(This is a joint post).
In light of the previous post, we decided to acknowledge some of our favorite children’s books that were also adapted into great movies. I mean, the kind of movies that draw on the original material but still hold their own. Granted, this doesn’t happen very often, but here are a notable few that made the cut:
To Kill a Mockingbird
- Gregory Peck is Atticus!
- the child actors hold their own, too. Mary Badham, the actress who plays Scout, completely nails her character. So does Phillip Alford as Jem
- the amazing title sequence is incredibly nostalgic. The box of Boo’s gifts and the crayon drawings act as a time capsule to Jean Louise Finch’s childhood
- the side stories are pruned to focus mainly on the Finch family, Boo, and Tom Robinson’s trial. Thus, Dill’s there from the beginning; no back story needed. Miss Rachel and Miss Stephanie become one person. Some of Atticus’ key lines are shuffled to consolidate scenes. And it works.
- Bonus: we get to see Boo Radley!
The Princess Bride
- both the book and the movie like to interrupt the narrative of the story. Although some may decry the deletion of the “editor’s notes” on the “original” novel, the grandfather-and-sick-grandson schtick works better on film than, say, a voice-over.
- the movie is more optimistic, thanks to over-the-top acting combined with cheesy special effects
- the book focuses more on revenge and the idea that “life isn’t fair,” while the movie is more about Wesley and Buttercup and true love.
- My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. It’s funnier with Mandy.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
- there’s a hint of The Incredibles as the kids get wrapped up in their parents’ former dangerous lives
- the visiting cousin creates great parent/kid tension
- the unique style of animation, especially in the tunnel sequences
- kudos for snipping out incidental characters like Glorfindel and Tom Bombadil
- ditto for bumping Arwen from a silent character whose main contribution to the plot is to embroider a banner to someone who rides a horse and faces off against the Nazgul. Sadly, she became more pathetic in the later films…
- we actually like what they did to Faramir. His golden-boy nobility would have looked pretty dumb on screen; inner monologue angst works better in print
- judicious omission of all the songs and poems in the book. I’m glad Sam’s bit of poetry made it into the extended edition, but it was still a short rhyme!
- superb art direction and music
- the Ring feels more menacing when it has a voice. Sauron still looks ridiculous, but what can you do when the main villain masquerades as a giant eyeball?