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5 Book-to-Movie Adaptations Hollywood Got Right

“The book was so much better,” is a common phrase uttered by both novice and professional critics. But often there’s some truth to it—not every literary classic translates well to the big screen. However, there are plenty of stories that have thrilled audiences regardless of the medium.

“Into the Wild”

This man-versus-nature story first appeared in an article by Jon Krakauer titled "Death of an Innocent," which covered the unusual struggles and tragic death of Christopher McCandless. The article later became the book "Into the Wild," and then a movie with the same title. The movie sticks close to the events outlined in the book, and Emile Hirsch's performance and Sean Penn's directing brings McCandless' views and yearnings to life. The result is a message about the constraints of society and how far one must go to find freedom from them.

“Princess Bride”

When William Goldman originally wrote "The Princess Bride," he based it on stories he told his children, and the book includes humorous helpings of his commentary as the story rolls along. This style of storytelling translated well onto the big screen. The movie frames the plot with as much humor and warmth as an actual bedtime story. The jokes are often kooky, but memorable enough to pass down between generations.

“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”

With all of its colorful twists and turns, Roald Dahl's 1964 children's book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” offered a great opportunity for a successful onscreen adaptation. While it's a children's story, the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” doesn't shy away from darker themes. For example, the tunnel scene is as frightening as it is fantastical. Gene Wilder's portrayal of a mysterious (and sometimes creepy) Willy Wonka fits perfectly into this backdrop.

“Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”

In “The Fellowship of the Ring" and throughout his other books, J.R.R. Tolkien creates an expansive fantasy world, filled with various races of people, incredible landscapes, and plenty of attention to detail. Bringing it to the screen would be a difficult task, but Peter Jackson was up to the challenge. Jackson’s interpretation of Middle Earth incorporates grand special effects, an enchanting score, and legendary actors including Hugo Weaving, Ian McKellen, and Christopher Lee. The result was a wildly popular retelling of a classic story.

“Shawshank Redemption”

While Stephen King's “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” was a novella, making for a quick read, the characters' plights are anything but "quick." In fact, the main character is imprisoned for nearly three decades. The film does a great job of portraying this passage of time. The film’s plot advances at an unhurried place, thanks in part to Morgan Freeman's narrations, but it still manages to capture the essence of the original story in under three hours.

Have an adaptation in mind that hasn't been done before? Post your idea to Greenlight Pix, but remember to give credit where it's due!

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