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My Top Ten Book To Film Adaptations

I’ve listed my favorite book to film adaptations to assist you in finding the best ones.
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  • The Rebecca titles for both book and movie combined using picture editing app Picsart.

  • The One And Only Ivan titles for both book and movie combined using picture editing app Picsart.

  • The Life Of Pi titles for both book and movie combined using picture editing app Picsart.

  • The Alice In Wonderland titles for both book and movie combined using picture editing app Picsart.

  • The Die Hard and Nothing Lasts Forever titles for both book and movie combined using picture editing app Picsart.

  • The Princess Bride titles for both book and movie combined using picture editing app Picsart.

  • The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe titles for both book and movie combined using picture editing app Picsart.

  • The Little Women titles for both book and movie combined using picture editing app Picsart.

  • The Hobbit titles for both book and movie combined using picture editing app Picsart.

  • The Harry Potter titles for both book and movie combined using picture editing app Picsart.

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One of the most frustrating things as a reader is watching a film adaptation and it being very inaccurate to the book. As an avid reader myself, I’ve experienced this disappointment plenty of times. So, I decided to make a list of my top ten book to film adaptations to help my fellow readers make sure to pick the best of the lot. There is something for everyone here, from classics and adventures, to fantasy and psychology. Hopefully it proves to be of assistance.

#10- Rebecca

2020 film directed by Ben Wheatley  Adapted from the 1938 book by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca, is a thrilling suspense story that will leave readers on edge until the end. The movie definitely lives up to this expectation. Rebecca follows the second, young Mrs. de Winter after her marriage to Maxim de Winter, the instant change in their newly-wed relationship upon arriving at the de Winter estate, Manderley, and the suppressing feeling of Rebecca still haunting Manderley’s halls. Rebecca is a very dark and superstitious tale, and the portrayal of that uneasiness in the film is astounding. There definitely is some inaccuracy and parts that are altered or reordered, like excluding the blackmailing between Jack Favell and Maxim after the court ruling near the end of the book. But overall it’s a very enjoyable book to film adaptation.

#9- The One And Only Ivan

2020 film directed by Thea Sharrock  Adapted from the 2012 book by Kate Applegate

Who doesn’t love a good heart-warming animal story? But Kate Applegate is on another level with The One and Only Ivan.  For a kids book, there isn’t anything better than short chapters, sometimes only a few words long. It’s the best way to capture the attention of young audiences. When I found out that Disney was coming out with a movie adaptation, I was flabbergasted, and was anxious for its release. The wait was worth it. For a book told by a gorilla, this movie is surprisingly accurate! It can be difficult for movie directors to find a way to correctly convey the story that is told in the book, but Thea Sharrock does it with ease. There are few inaccuracies throughout this movie, like the animals’ nighttime break-out. Yet still, this film is every bit as heartbreaking and sentimental as the book, it’s such a remarkable adaptation.

#8- Life Of Pi

2012 film directed by Ang Lee  Adapted from the 2001 book by Yann Martel

WOW. Who could’ve predicted that an adaptation with so few characters would be so amazing? Due to this movie’s supporting roles all being animals, the amount of emotions and deep thoughts that are successfully portrayed is miraculous. You would think that having only one actual person talking for the majority of the movie would be boring, but it’s more captivating than most films made these days. Pi’s story will have audiences hooked from the beginning and leave them dumbfounded by the end. I read the book a few years ago, and at the time, everyone kept telling me how amazing the movie was. I of course proceeded to wait three more years before figuring out that the adaptation is 100% accurate and a phenomenal movie.

#7- Alice In Wonderland

1951 film directed by Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wilfred Jackson, Ben Sharpsteen   Adapted from the 1865 book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Although Disney is known for changing the story, Alice in Wonderland is uncharacteristically accurate! From the beloved characters to the talented artwork, even the music! The story in animation is wondrous because the vivid colors and funky patterns are a fantastic way to show the key elements of Wonderland. As you watch the scenes fly off the book and onto the screen, you really feel like you’re experiencing Alice’s adventures alongside her. There are still many scenes and characters whose stories remained solely in the book, such as the Mocking turtle and the Gryphon, but despite these absences, this production is a colorfully and delightful adaptation.

#6- Die Hard

1988 film directed by John McTiernan  Adapted from the 1979 book Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp 

Everyone knows this movie: A cop who gets trapped inside a building, on Christmas Eve, by terrorists, and has to struggle to survive despite the odds, all with no shoes on. What most people don’t know about this blockbuster movie is that it’s actually based on the book “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Roderick Thorp. The story is every bit as thrilling and suspenseful as the production, and the movie definitely captures the best scenes exquisitely. In the book you get to learn more about the personal life of Joe, but don’t worry, there is still a big emphasis on him being barefooted. There were some obvious points altered simply for a more cinematic drama aspect, like Joe’s love interest, but they barely change the important parts of the story. Overall, the action is more important than the entertainment elements, and the movie does focus on the actual conflict more than the audience’s preferences, so it retains its ranking.

#5- The Princess Bride

1987 film directed by Rob Reiner    Adapted from the 1973 book by William Goldman

This fantastic film is- believe it or not- based on a book. It has everything: sword fights, true love, comedy, dramatic adventure, cunning villains, unlikely heroes. But most importantly, this is true of both the movie and the book. While there is a lack of accuracy for most book to film adaptations, the insane attention to detail that went into this adaptation almost makes up for all the terrible ones! The descriptions of the characters in the book are almost an exact match to the actors. This story is so intriguing and excellent, and no matter how often you watch it or read it, the story never gets old.

#4- The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

2005 film directed by Andrew Adamson  Adapted from the 1950 book by C.S. Lewis

For a production made in 2005, the special effects are incredible; the CGI used for Aslan is truly impressive. The book is so magical, and it feels more real because of its common entrance: a wardrobe. I think that’s what makes it so alluring. I remember trying to look through all sorts of different doorways and cabinets as a kid, trying to follow after Lucy Pevensie, trying to reach Narnia. On the rare occasions I came upon a wardrobe, I was almost too nervous from anticipation to open it! If you’re wondering if the movie lived up to the expectation, clearly, it did. Narnia is every bit as fantastical in the movie as in the book. It has all the intense fighting scenes and the brutal battle, and the unforgettable moments like seeing the lamppost in the snow. While the other movies for this series are very well done, my childhood memories will always put this one first.

#3- Little Women

2019 film directed by Greta Gerwig  Adapted from the 1868 book by Louisa May Alcott

This film is exceptionally well done. It hasn’t any flaws, except that it wasn’t longer! The actors are perfectly cast and the costume design is on point(ahem- it DID receive an Academy Award for costume design…. just saying). It is such a wholehearted, classical book that truly deserves a film that lives up to its legacy. The setting is such an accurate representation of the book’s description, it feels as if you’ve actually entered the pages of the book. Little Women is a spectacular film for the whole family to watch, whether or not you’ve read the book.

#2- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

2012 film directed by Peter Jackson   Adapted from the 1937 book by J.R.R. Tolkien

Everyone knows the notorious Lord of the Rings trilogy- books and films. However the main series isn’t my first choice of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. In my opinion, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is much better. The LOTR movies have too many aspects that are altered that really change some of the key plot points, whereas the Hobbit movies extend through three movies just to make sure all the details are included(yes, it could have been shortened to two, but you can’t have everything). Although it’s only about half of the book, the details they have embedded into the screen production is mind blowing, like the impeccable creation of the fantastic and horrific creatures. Honestly the only thing that keeps this movie from first place is the rest of the Hobbit movies, they REALLY went downhill fast. The first one was such a success, you would have thought they would have just completed the fantastic journey in a second movie; instead, they drew it out into two more movies giving the series a bad rap. However, if we focus on just the first one, there’s no question that it’s a spectacular adaptation, and is one of my all time favorite films, even outside of adaptations.

#1- Harry Potter

2001- 2009 films directed by Alfonso Cuarón, David Yates, Mike Newell, and Chris Columbus    Adapted from the 1997- 2007 book series by J.K. Rowling

It’s impossible to get tired of this magical world, the characters who are so realistic, the story that is relentlessly intriguing and is so thoroughly intertwined, simply Hogwarts itself. One of the best things is that the movies are(almost) just as mesmerizing as the books. I personally believe there never has been or ever will be a movie to book adaptation better than Harry Potter. The details are so in depth, the cast is one of the best representations of fictional characters ever, and the sets: a reader’s dream. Even the music adds to the whole magical story. Yes, this technically is an entire series, but the adaptations are so well done, only calling one out seems wrong. However, the third one, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, is exceptionally well done with all the animal transformations. But again, the whole adapted series is so well done, there is no hesitation in recommending this to anyone and everyone(yes, in this case, even if you haven’t read the books… but it would be A LOT better after reading the books, just saying!).


Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading my top ten book to film adaptations, maybe you even recognized some that you’ve seen or read before. If not, at least you have some new suggestions to look into!

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About the Contributor
Andi Heininger
Andi Heininger, Journalist
I'm in 9th grade and I'm super excited to be taking Journalism this year! I love to write, especially about topics I'm passionate about. Some of my other hobbies include soccer, reading, and debating.  Thanks for taking the time to read about me!

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