December 15, 2004

5 Favorite Adaptations

In the "spirit of the season," Amy and I are each going to share our favorite literary adaptations. We hope you'll add yours to the comments section as well.

Kim's Picks:
Pride and Prejudice
Obvs. choice. Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth) and Elizabeth Bennet struggle over class prejudice and personal pride. Colin Firth famously exits a pond in a wet shirt and gives Jennifer Ehle (as Elizabeth) "the look." Sigh.

The Buccaneers
New money American heiresses travel to England to find aristocratic husbands in this mini series adaptation of Edith Wharton's unfinished novel. Carla Cugino (Spin City, Spy Kids) is wonderful as the naive, high-spirited Nan. Greg Wise (Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility) and Mira Sorvino co-star.

Zefirelli's Romeo and Juliet

This film famously stars Olivia Hussey as the doomed Juliet and boasts a high percentage of handsome gents in tights engaged in witty banter and suspenseful swordfights.

Sense and Sensibility

Ang Lee (Director) and Emma Thompson (Screenplay) partnered to create this lush adaptation of Austen's novel. Starring Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, and my not-so-secret crush, Greg Wise (see The Buccaneers above).

This last one is hard. I thought about The Shining, Emma, Apocalypse Now, The Scarlet Pimpernel (a new favorite), but I'm going to go with My Precious...

Lord of the Rings I, II, and III
If I were stuck on a desert island, I'd want Legolas to keep me distracted (and a DVD Player, of course). If I had to pick one of the three, I'd choose The Fellowship of the Ring. --Kim |

Amy's Picks:
Since there are still tons of adaptations I have yet to see, I'm sure this list won't even begin to measure up. Still, here are my faves not mentioned among Kim's selections.

A Room With A View
Pretty much any E.M. Forster adaptation is brilliant, but this is the best. The romantic embrace in a sea of flowers kills me every time, and the soundtrack is superb.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Strange yet delightful. Weird yet wonderful. Gene Wilder is a genius in this movie, and that twisted ferry ride scene is trippy indeed. I pray Johnny Depp in the new version can measure up, but somehow I doubt it.

Sophie's Choice
I'm pretty stoic during movies, but this one had me heaving, and I mean HEAVING sobs by the end. Go, Meryl Streep!

Doctor Zhivago
Only Julie Christie and Omar Sharif can make marital infidelity seem magical. The stark Russian landscape and haunting theme music only add to its epic appeal.

The Forsyte Saga
Basically a soap opera about stodgy rich Brits at the turn of the 20th century, this is a miniseries you can really sink your teeth into.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more, although I haven't seen the Buccaneers, but according to your fine taste, I imagine it's a must see.

    Other picks: Emma, The Other, To Kill A Mockingbird, Mansfield Park, oh! and how could I forget my favorite of all time?!:

    Wuthering Heights

  2. Jenn: You have to watch the Buccanneers. You will LOVE it! --Kim

  3. "Mill on the Floss" by George Eliot is a good adapatation. I saw it on PBS. And also "Return of the Native" and "Tess of the D'Urbervilles." The Tess I saw on A&E starred Justine Waddell. I think there are also different adaptations of "Jude the Obscure." (I <3 Thomas Hardy!)

  4. I LOVE Thomas Hardy...I've seen Mill on the Floss, but have never seen any version of "Tess" which is one of my favorite books. As for Jude the Obscure, there's a very depressing one starring Kate Winslet.

  5. Whoops...Mill on the Floss is George Eliot. There's a PBS version of Mayor of Casterbridge that's great, too.

  6. I'm a Hardy fan as well, but the Jude the Obscure with Kate Winslet has to be one of THE most depressing movies I've ever seen. Between that and the blatant over-use of the train track as metaphor in that adaptation, I don't recommend it. I added Roman Polanski's Tess to our Netflix queue. Apparently it won an Oscar for Best Cinematography!

  7. BBC's 2004 North & South almost ties with Davies' Pride & Prejudice. But yeah, Lord of the Rings hands down.