I did a post a month or so ago where I talked about what I think are the most successful adaptations of books into films or TV series. In the end I only had three – Atonement, Pride and Prejudice (1995) and Romeo + Juliet.
But since publishing that I’ve been thinking and come up with three more that I think deserve to be added to the list. And probably the moment I publish this one I’ll come up with a few more so this may well end up being an ongoing project.
1. Brideshead Revisited (see what I did there with the title? Comic genius)
The 1981 TV series was successful for a few reasons. The casting was brilliant; hardly ever has there been an adaptation where I haven’t seriously disagreed with the casting choice for at least one of the main characters (Harry Potter, I’m looking at you here) but for this one every character was exactly how I’d pictured, right down to Aloysius. Secondly the score, which set the melancholy tone perfectly. I actually have the soundtrack on CD for days when I really feel like depressing myself. Thirdly was just how long it is. Eleven hours dedicated to one book. I doubt that would be possible now. But it means it stays true to the book all the way through, which is absolutely a good thing in my eyes.
2. History Boys
I probably wouldn’t say this counted as it is a play but as I’ve already included Romeo and Juliet I’ve set a precedent. And it gives me a chance to talk about how much I like this film. Which is a lot. It’s thoughtful, witty and partly responsible for sparking my interest in poetry. I will draw the line before I include musicals though as then this list would become MUCH longer. I love a film musical.
3. Sense and Sensibility
This isn’t my favourite Austen novel. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m sceptical about Marianne and Colonel Brandon actually being happy together for the whole of their marriage. I also find it lacks some of the humour that Jane Austen is famous for. But this adaptations adds the humour back in again and makes Edward Ferrars into a more rounded character. In the book I almost felt sorry for Elinor for ending up with someone quite so one dimensional. This all makes it sound like I hate the novel. I still love the book, I just have very high expectations for Jane Austen. But it’s ok because she redeems herself with her others.