7 book-to-film adaptations you have to see

January 10, 2017

Whether you’re an avid reader or devoted film buff, there’s something special about a good book-to-film adaptation.

From children’s tales to pop-lit hits to Pulitzer prize winners, there’s something for everyone. You can delight in watching your favourite stories as they’re reimagined for the big screen, or finally experience those rich narratives your book-loving friends and family have been raving on about.

To celebrate the start of the Sydney Writers' Festival, Australia's largest celebration of literature, stories and ideas which returns May 22, here's a list of some of our best book-to-film adaptations!

7. Child 44

Child 44

A unique spin on the detective-thriller formula, Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman are in their element as Soviet secret police investigating a series of mysterious deaths, blocked at every turn by a state unwilling to admit a mass murderer is on the loose.

Political corruption, paranoia, and renowned men of many voices Hardy and Oldman donning Russian accents. What more could you ask for?

6. A Walk in the Woods

A Walk In the Woods

Hollywood veterans Robert Redford and Nick Nolte star as curmudgeonly old friends humorously bickering their way along the Appalachian Trail in this adaptation of one of travel writer Bill Bryson’s best loved books. 

We could wax lyrical about the stunning vistas and brilliant cinematography, but it’s the chalk and cheese bromance of Redford and Nolte that makes this comedy-drama a must watch adaptation.

5. Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot

Esio Trot

Roald Dahl’s celebrated children’s novel about a shy retired bachelor who falls in love with his neighbour, who in turn only has eyes for her pet tortoise, is brought to life with so much love thanks in no small part to the efforts of megastars Dustin Hoffman, Judi Dench, and narrator James Corden.

But don’t just take our word for it. “Just watch it,” says The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan, “Once a week, I’d recommend, for the rest of your life.”

4. The Divergent Series

The Divergent Series: Insurgent
The Divergent Series: Allegiant

The Divergent Series

It’s no secret that YA fiction adaptations are all the rage in Hollywood and, at least for Initiates, it should be no surprise that The Divergent Series is one of the best to make the jump from page to screen.

It’s an emotional and action-packed journey about breaking social boundaries, with a side-serving of teen romance. #FourTris #4ever.

3. The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans

From sumptuous panoramas of the windswept New Zealand coastline* to a moustachioed Michael Fassbender effortlessly pulling off a turtleneck sweater, The Light Between Oceans is a beautiful adaptation about a couple, who raise a baby who washes ashore in a rowboat, as their own.

*Director Derek Cianfrance, having no doubt picked up on Australia’s longstanding tradition of claiming the best our Kiwi cousins have to offer as our own (see: Phar Lapp; Russell Crowe), shot the Western Australian set film across a number of picturesque South Island locations.

2. A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

Guillermo Del Toro’s protégé Juan Antonio Bayona brings his trademark mix of realism and dark-fantasy to this adaptation of Patrick Ness’ heart wrenching coming of age tale about a young boy facing the impending death of his devoted mother.

Starring Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, and Liam Neeson as the imposing tree-like monster, A Monster Calls is equal parts Pan’s Labyrinth and The BFG.

1. The Girl On The Train

The Girl on The Train

With a powerful performance as the titular down-and-out alcoholic commuter from Emily Blunt, The Girl on The Train was one of our favourite films of 2016.

Remaining remarkably faithful to the novel (excluding a shift of setting from the UK to the US), it’s little wonder that this intriguing psychological thriller about a woman who becomes entangled in a mystery involving a couple whose house she passes on the train was fast tracked to the silver screen.

The Sydney Writers' Festival runs from 22nd - 28th May.

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