My Favorite Book-to-Movie Adaptations

Olivia Cornell, Reporter

Taking a book from the written word to the big screen is a huge undertaking. Not every director is able to successfully translate an author and reader’s vision into a satisfying movie-going experience. Being both an avid reader and film lover, book-to-movie adaptations are of great interest to me. Here are three of my favorites:

Little WomenGreta Gerwig’s movie adaptation of the book Little Women captivates the audience, plunging them into the lives of the four March sisters, detailing their individual journeys from childhood to womanhood. Set in the 1860’s, the film treats you visually to the clothing, architecture, and ways of life that are so vividly described in the book.

The film stays true to Louisa May Alcott’s characterizations of each sister, considering they each have a wide range of interests and quirks. Jo, the main character, struggles to acquire a more lady-like persona. Meg, the oldest, learns how to follow her own heart in the midst of others telling her to do otherwise. Amy is prone to selfishness and vanity, and Beth must learn to overcome her shyness.

As the main character, Jo March, tries to compete as a writer in a man’s world – often being rejected – she questions her role as a woman in society. Gerwig takes Jo’s story, as well as her sisters’ stories, and relates them to social issues present in the world today, while still relaying the book’s true themes and messages.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

With the book’s format being a collection of letters from the main character, putting The Perks of Being a Wallflower in movie form must have been no easy task. But who better to direct the movie than the author himself: Stephen Chbosky.

In a review of the movie from the Los Angeles Times, Betsy Sharkey says, “Chbosky trusts his audience to understand the subtext of moments without throwing in a lot of unnecessary explanations. That requires a more nuanced level of acting and the core cast is very adept at pulling it off.” With the rare privilege of being able to direct this movie, Chbosky brought in the perfect cast. Logan Lerman, who portrays Charlie Kelmeckis, really embodies who Charlie is as a person and the events in his life that he grapples with: his best friend’s suicide and past childhood trauma that is unraveled throughout the story. Emma Watson, just coming out of her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter series, does a wonderful job at becoming the character Sam and showing Sam’s impact on Charlie’s life. And last but certainly not least, Ezra Miller, playing Patrick, steers away from a stereotypical “gay best friend” portrayal, and shines as a fully-rounded character, who experiences joy, love, and more.

The cinematography in this movie reflects a true coming-of-age feel, with a raw and grainy look, which is also fitting to the 1990’s time period of the story. After reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, watching the movie was experiencing Charlie’s letters come to life. 

The Hunger Games

I recently read this fascinating trilogy and rewatched the four-movie series, and found myself completely satisfied with the films’ portrayal of all three books. 

I’ll start with the characters. The main character, Katniss Everdeen, is sixteen years old. Jennifer Lawrence, being casted for the role at 20 years old, does an incredible job at portraying that young and innocent side of Katniss while also showing her fiercely passionate and rebellious nature. With more performances from actors such as Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark) and Donald Sutherland (President Snow), these complex characters are really brought to life.

Along with great character portrayals, the Hunger Games films do a great job at establishing the unique setting and environment of the dystopian world. From the lavish Capitol city to the intricate fighting arenas, the details of the set are heavily influenced by the book, and it shows.

Although some may argue that the on-screen romantic chemistry between Katniss and the two boys in her life does not compare to the chemistry in the books, one must remember that Katniss has always been independent. Her main focus, as well as the series’ main focus, has never been that love triangle between Gale and Peeta. The boys are a crucial part of the story, but as a whole, this futuristic story focuses on 21st century issues like political corruption, propaganda, and war.

The question that always rises is, “Which is better, the movie, or the book?” However, these three adaptations show that movies and books can both tell stories and demonstrate ideas in beautiful and unique ways. Reading is such a beautiful and individualized experience and it’s really amazing to see how the world of cinema can bring a reader’s vision to life.