Battle Of The Remakes

Successfully turning books into films is a huge challenge. Charolotte Lloyd looks at a few examples of adaptions that have hit the mark.

We all say the movie is never as good as the book, and for the most part we would be right. There is not enough time in a movie to be able to squeeze in every detail contained in a book, but there are those rare cases – those times when you sit back after watching a movie adapted from a book – that you feel completely satisfied. It was exactly how you had imagined it and there is a certain amount of relief. Like a weight has been lifted.

A lot of us avoid watching TV or movie adaptations because we are scared of disappointment. I’m the worst for this, but I’ve turned a new leaf. Below is a list of my favourite movie adaptations which are worth the read (obviously) and the watch, because they lived up to or were even better than the book.

Dear John

Written by Nicholas Sparks | Directed by Lasse Hallstrom

Just take a quick little jump if you don’t like sappy romantic books or movies, but this was one I will never forget. Reading this book as an innocent 15-year-old, borrowing it from the school library and binge reading it meant this was the stuff of dreams. To be honest, it’s not the ideal love story and definitely doesn’t follow the generic romantic drama story line, but after finishing this book, I couldn’t wait to put the movie on. And to make it better, the leads were two of my ultimate faves (and still are): Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried.

Long story short, boy and girl fall in love, the boy goes to war, the girl doesn’t wait for him, girl marries, fast-forward and they find each other again. It’s a complicated story to say the least, but if you like romance, I don’t see the problem. It is always easier to just watch the movie, after all who wants to make the effort required to read 300-500 pages and then just watch the same thing? But, this one is totally worth it. Oh, and if you’re the type to cry in movies, may I suggest having a box of tissues (or 10) by your side?

“Love meant that you care for another’s happiness instead of your own.”

*Available to stream on Stan

The Fault in Our Stars

Written by John Green | Directed by Josh Boone

Again, we find ourselves in the romance genre. But this is not sappy, and it is definitely not stereotypical. Augustus and Hazel are the main characters, trying to navigate their lives as cancer patients. What follows in the adaption has been done beautifully, honouring the book almost exactly. And though I was apprehensive about watching the movie, it did not disappoint.

The characters are almost exactly how you would expect them to be, and it is the adventures occurring within the story line which make the movie so damn good. You might say that in their breakout roles, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort define in this movie what it means to have loved and lost by living life to the fullest. I also read this book when I was around 15, when it had just been released and on everyone’s mind. Everybody was talking about it and this new author, John Green. Five years later and I’ve read all his books. It may follow a teenage love story, but that is not really what is at the root of the story line. It is about love in general with the underlying message being make the most of what you have.

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world but you get to choose who hurts you.”

The Great Gatsby

Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald | Directed by (many people, but most famously) Baz Luhrmann

Need I say more? I will say more, but this needs no explanation. Studying this book in my final year of high school was honestly one of the best things I could have done. It’s not like I really had a choice, but that is beside the point. The Great Gatsby is a quick read; a very small book and very easy to get through. Other than that, it is written beautifully. If you are unaware of the story line, let me fill you in. Set in the 1920s, war veteran, Nick Carraway, settles in New York, where he works as a stock market trader and soon becomes attracted to Jay Gatsby and the flamboyant lifestyle he leads.

The book is amazing, but the way the movie presented provides the audience with something (perhaps) even better than the book. The 2013 version of this story won many awards for the production, the costumes, the setting, and the cast. In short, it left me speechless. Leo DiCaprio portrays Gatsby, with Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. This duo really brings to life Fitzgerald’s characters, including Aussie actors, Joel Edgerton, and Isla Fisher. I know there are some of you who aren’t fussed on Baz Luhrmann himself, but if you can disregard his arrogance, he is extremely talented to be able to pull off a two and a half hour show-stopper like this, and we love him for it.

 “Gatsby looked at Daisy in a way all young girls wanted to be looked at.”

*Available to stream on Netflix


It was hard to pick only a few that would satisfy, and while there are so many more I could have rambled on about, these three offer some of the best transitions from book to screen (that I have seen anyway). Of course this is subjective, but nevertheless, these picks are all worth the watch (and the read, too, if you have time) – even if you don’t like flamboyant flashbacks or cheesy romances.


Feature Image: Madelyn Gardiner, Yak Media Designer


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