Friday, November 9, 2012

3 Best Film adaptations of Novels

I do not write much about movies on this blog, agreed, but that does not mean I am not a movie person. I'm rather a total movie buff, the extents of which I'd rather not go into for now. But an idea just sort of popped up in my mind last night, acting on which I now plan to write about my personal take on movies - the must-watch kind, the why-the-hell kind and any other kinds that I can categorize films into. I can not claim to have seen all the movies in the world, so my lists might be sorely incomplete and at the same time highly subjective too, given my personal taste. But what the heck, let me just do it. I'm sure I'll find some if not many takers.

I shall start off with a set of three best film adaptations of novels that I have ever seen and would recommend to one and all.

1. The Namesake (2006)
This film is based on the novel of the same name by Jhumpa Lahiri. The novel failed to leave much of an impression on me back when I read it. I don't know exactly what it was about the book, but I didn't find it worthy of even half the praise it has been showered with (though I know the world at large might argue with me over that). It was at best, normal, for me. But after watching this movie I have come to see the novel in much better light. With powerful performances by two of the most intense Indian actors, Irrfan Khan and Tabu, and Kal Penn in the lead role, The Namesake is a moving tale centered around sensitive subjects like a traditionai Bengali immigrant couple's struggle to adjust to and raise a family in a foreign land, and how an unconventional name given to a child by his parents shapes up his entire life. The movie revolves around Ashima and Gogol's individual struggles in search of their true identities. And when the director happens to be Mira Nair, the movie is bound to be heart-rending and intense. Every shot, every frame delivers immense impact on the heart and mind.

2. The Kite Runner (2007)
This movie is as sensitive in its making as the issues it addresses. Adapted from the novel by Khaled Hosseini (*respect*), the movie is a poignant commentary on the tumult of the life and times in Afghanistan during, before and after the Soviet invasion and the Taliban regime. The story tracks the lives of two young friends, a Hazara boy Hassan and his master's son Amir, who grow up together during good times and share a very strong bond of kinship. The little Hassan knows not of anything else but extreme loyalty to Amir. However Amir is not able to uphold the silent promise of friendship when Hassan unfortunately falls prey to unforgiving bullies, for Amir's sake that too. He cannot live with this guilt, day after day, and coldly disposes off of Hassan. Years later, Amir, now married and settled in the US, is called upon to visit his hometown Kabul again to set things right and save Hassan's surviving son Sohrab in an attempt to attain redemption. The novel is by far one of the best books ever written in the English language, and the movie does not fall short of the expectations one would naturally have of its film adaptation. It brings out the plethora of emotions and the essence of the long novel perfectly in those two short hours. Definitely one of the best film adaptations I have seen, and a must watch for every one of us - the movie (as also the book) is a lesson of life in itself.

3. Pride and Prejudice (1995 TV Mini series)
I have reiterated time and again that Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is my most beloved novel. I have seen its 2005 film adaptation, the film Bride and Prejudice (loosely-based on it) and the 6-part mini TV series originally telecast in 1995 on BBC One as well. However the only adaptation that I found perfectly fitting to the novel was the TV series. Most of the important characters have been perfectly cast, and Colin Firth as Darcy was just impeccable. The series recreates the costumes, mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of the 19th century English society and remains true to the tone and spirit of the novel, at the same time making it more lively and easy for the audience to relate to. The film's charm lies in the fact that even while retaining the original vein and most of the dialogues of the novel, it also sheds light on the people, their common activities and conversations not just in the background but as essential parts of the narrative itself. One forgets that one is watching a film adaptation of a novel - it feels like a whole new movie in itself, albeit longer, given the six one-hour episodes. The series might not enjoy a huge variety of audience, given the current trend of popular movies, but to the Classic-loyalists, it is as good as a perfect film/TV adaptation gets.


Sushmit said...

LOTR, Jurassic Park and The Prince Of Egypt too :)

Mahima said...

All of these are based on books? :O

I've seen Jurassic Park. LOTR is on the list too now. :)

Garima Singh said...

How could you not include Harry Potter, woman?? that's almost blasphemous :O

Mahima said...

What in the world makes you think I am a Harry Potter fan, my dear? :P

Amul said...

I haven't seen any the three above, neither have I read the novels. But, yes, LoTR tops everything. Fantasy, mythology, fiction and then cinematography, direction.. Perfection would probably be an understatement. You gotta watch the movies. You just gotta!

Antarik Anwesan said...

Nice post. I am doing a research on this very subject and am restricting myself to the Indian context alone, as there are thousands of hollywood films based on novels...N I think you did help me with filling my questionnaire. Thank you :)

Mahima said...

@Amul - I shall watch them when you're done watching the three I mentioned above. :D

@Antarik - I think the inspiration or idea to write this post might have subconsciously come to me after reading your post on the subject some time back. It just occurred to me as probable. So thank you!

Would love to read more about your research and its progress :)

Sudeep Gupta said...

Reading the comments above- you have ignored LOTR? Dont watch the movie first. It will ruin the book experience :)

As for P&P you already know I'm a big fan. Though I like Keira Knightley, she somehow was a misfit as Liz Bennet, and Darcy was totally off the cue. The TV mini series was awesome though, Colin Firth in particular like you said. No one shoots classics like BBC!