Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Film of the book: Top 50 Adaptations Revealed

This is not my top list. This highly controversial list was published in Guardian in 2006.

As anyone who has seen any version of Anna Karenina knows, a great book does not necessarily make a great film. And while The Godfather was a great movie, was it a great novel? Probably not.

These and other debates went into deciding a longlist of what are deemed the 50 best film adaptations of all time. Organised by the Guardian, a panel of experts has drawn up the list, which will be voted on by the public. The chains Waterstones and Borders are also involved and will promote the books in shops.

Andrew Pulver, the Guardian's film editor, who was on the panel, said: "There was some vigorous debate."

Among the issues under discussion was whether the film could be adapted from non-fiction. The answer was yes, but only in the case of Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese's mafia classic based on Nicholas Pileggi's account of the life of the gangster Henry Hill.

Short stories are allowed and Brokeback Mountain is there, based on Annie Proulx's piece originally published in New Yorker magazine.

Stephen King could have been in the list three times over for short stories from one collection. In Different Seasons, three out of four of the stories became films - The Shawshank Redemption,

Stand By Me and Apt Pupil.

The films of Stanley Kubrick could also have been in there several times since most of his movies were adapted works. The two which made the list are his version of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange and Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.

Jane Austen is included once, for Pride and Prejudice rather than Emma Thompson's Oscar-winning adaptation of Sense and Sensibility directed by Ang Lee.

And then there are the ones which are not there - no JK Rowling for Harry Potter or Tolkien for Lord of the Rings, nor EM Forster for Howards End, Room With a View or Maurice.

The Guardian, in association with the Book Marketing Group, will publish a supplement in the Film & Music section on May 5 when voting will begin. The winner will be revealed at the Guardian Hay literary festival at the end of May.

From words to pictures


Alice in Wonderland

American Psycho

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Brighton Rock

Catch 22

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory

A Clockwork Orange

Close Range (inc Brokeback Mountain)

The Day of the Triffids

Devil in a Blue Dress

Different Seasons (inc The Shawshank Redemption)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (aka Bladerunner)

Doctor Zhivago

Empire of the Sun

The English Patient

Fight Club

The French Lieutenant's Woman

Get Shorty

The Godfather



Heart of Darkness (aka Apocalypse Now)

The Hound of the Baskervilles


The Jungle Book

A Kestrel for a Knave (aka Kes)

LA Confidential

Les Liaisons Dangereuses


Lord of the Flies

The Maltese Falcon

Oliver Twist

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest


The Outsiders

Pride and Prejudice

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The Railway Children


The Remains of the Day

Schindler's Ark (aka Schindler's List)

Sin City

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

The Talented Mr Ripley

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

To Kill a Mockingbird


The Vanishing

Watership Down

Mark Brown, Wednesday April 19, 2006, The Guardian

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