Top 10 Most Epic Movies Adapted from Books
10. Peter Benchley’s Jaws
Jaws (1975) became the preeminent summer blockbuster movie and the highest grossing movie ever at the time. Benchley based his book on some real life events and people that added to the intrigue, but Spielberg’s movie scared people out of the water and back into the theater to see it a second time. My parents took me to see this movie when I was 5 (no kidding), never dreaming the shock value involved even for adults.
9. Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) is a marvelous adaptation of the work by Stephen King. Andy Dufresne is a character you root for and are not disappointed with the movie’s depiction. Dufresne triumphs over surprising corruption and cruelty that is shocking. But the payoff is huge!
8. Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men (2007) showcases the Coen Brothers’ quirky, magical touch, lifting this adaptation to the big screen. The bad guy’s musings reminded me of the first time I read Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find, showing depth and philosophical musings juxtaposed with cruel violence.
7. Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club
Fight Club (1999) has a tremendous twist preserved in the movie and captures the frustration of bureaucratic, corporate America. Most of us take out our frustrations on pints of Ben & Jerry’s best rather than each other thankfully. Fight Club actually leaves you thinking long after you watch its conclusion.
6. JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) was an adaption of one of the most beloved reads of my childhood. I was so pleased when I saw the film adaptation that it made me want to purchase the set for safekeeping. I was a bit surprised at the long shots of the evil minions building their army — not attractive folks. But I would say the worst part was the waiting inbetween releases of the three movies.
5.Charles Portis’ True Grit
True Grit (2010) is one of those movies that has it all: drama, revenge, underdogs, kid heroes, and cowboys. Jeff Bridges was amazing. My wife was so drawn in by the story and grit of the girl actress and didn’t mind some of the shocking violence. This tremendously successful western thrilled audiences even without John Wayne.
4. Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) is truly scary to read and imagine in your own mind. Surely no movie could reach those levels of intensity? Anthony Hopkins is Mr. Intensity in this film and impacts audiences’ dreams weeks afterward with his portrayal of Lechter.
3. Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park (1993) is another Spielberg blockbuster that both delighted and thrilled fans while avoiding too much of the lecturing on chaos theory. I still think of that cup of water, resonating with the footsteps of the approaching Tyrannosaurus Rex. But I don’t think I will forget the poor fellow meeting T-Rex — and his demise — in the outhouse.
2. Mario Puzo’s The Godfather
The Godfather (1972) is a brilliant masterpiece directed by Francis Ford Coppola, complete with violent moments that only a portrayal of the mob could allow. It replaced Gone with the Wind as the highest grossing movie when it premiered. Puzo assisted with the screenplay, no doubt lifting its production to the heights it achieved. And who can forget Marlon Brando? If you do, you may no longer be part of the family.
1. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind (1939) is the number one movie of all time on the charts for prices adjusted for inflation. The movie was epic, sweeping, moving, and star studded. It premiered in a day when the running time was not the obstacle it is today. It was honored as the first film to ever receive 5 Academy Awards. I can still watch this movie and be enthralled with it for hours. But the shock of Rhett Butler’s final words lives on in movie history, and it was truly shocking to the audience of the day.
Written by Dr. William