While most cinephiles with a literary obsession will tell you "the book was better," sometimes the movie camera and the printing press stand shoulder to shoulder in their abilities to convey the written word. It's not exactly a rare feat, but it's less often than you think that a movie can give you the same message and/or thrills that an original novel can, but when it does, it's truly a thing of alchemy. But which film-based adaptations rank as the best of the best?
Well, in the case of the British population, there are 10 films that take right after their bookish equivalents. The Independent sampled 2,000 movie going Britons, and out of that sample, 10 films are the obvious heavy hitters. The top spot on this list is occupied by a 32% result, which sounds like this list is full of stiff competition if you ask us. But don't take our word for it. See the list for yourself, and let us know if you agree with the top 10 book-to-film adaptations, according to the British population.
10. Forrest Gump
If life is like a box of chocolates, then Forrest Gump is the candy you eat first in a box of really good confections. With Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks telling the story of a man not graced with stereotypical intelligence, but still wise beyond his years, it's hard not to see this movie as pure gold. Of course, if the book's author Winston Groom were asked the same question, he'd undoubtedly leave this film off this list altogether.
9. The Hobbit
If you want to know what type of a list this is, The Hobbit managed to make it into the Top 10. While the trilogy of films is the weaker of the two sagas from the pen of J.R.R. Tolkien, the films by Peter Jackson do manage to recapture some of the magic that ran through the pages of the relatively short tome. Just pretend The Desolation Of Smaug didn't happen, and you should be fine with this result.
8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The confusion of which version of Roald Dahl's infinitely witty children's book is the better cinematic experience might seem like a no-brainer to most fans. However, while Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory has Gene Wilder's lovable madman and the more memorable songs, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory maintained some of Dahl's darker tones, and in a more modern setting. The poll in the Independent says Charlie, but in our hearts, we know folks had to have been thinking of the 1971 classic when they submitted their result, so advantage Wilder. Right? Right?!
7. The Green Mile
The other author to have two very similar entries on this list is none other than literary impresario Stephen King. His first showing on this list is the Frank Darabont / Tom Hanks collaboration known as The Green Mile. Now, while The Shawshank Redemption ranks above this film in every sense of the word, that doesn't make this film a dud by any stretch of the imagination. It's just a matter of preference, in a game where both options are the winner.
6. The Bourne Franchise
Here's another case where fans may have been voting with their movie tastes over their quest for literary accuracy. Anyone who's read Robert Ludlum's original series of novels, starting with 1980's The Bourne Identity, will tell you that these movies are more of a series of "name only" adaptations. Still, Jason Bourne has endured everything from various government conspiracies, to some sequels of diminishing returns, so obviously his place on this list is secured with the blood of his enemies.
5. The James Bond Franchise
Full essays could, and have, been written about how the James Bond franchise has changed over the decades. In some cases, the films have strayed so far away from Ian Fleming's original vision, we're surprised he hasn't made a pact with Baron Samedi to revive himself and exact brutal vengeance. But when the series decides to hew closer to its printed origins, with films like On Her Majesty's Secret Service, License To Kill, and even Casino Royale, then it's not hard to see why Bond is as strong as he is after all this time.
4. The Lord of the Rings
You knew The Lord of the Rings was going to be on this list, and its pretty high showing compared to The Hobbit speaks volumes of how the public reacted to both pieces of the over-arcing saga. With lush visuals, and its heart so buried in the right place that even a Ringwraith would have a hard time piercing it, Tolkien's masterpiece is as well respected now as the day audiences first laid eyes on it.
3. The Shawshank Redemption
Considering how beautiful of a film The Shawshank Redemption is, seeing it rank third on a list of literary adaptations kind of feels light. While the competition above it is worthy of their respective slots, part of our heart pangs for this film not taking the top spot. Still, third place or not, Stephen King and Frank Darabont created a perfect film when they birthed The Shawshank Redemption, and it works just as effectively on the first, or four hundredth viewing.
2. A Christmas Carol
If A Christmas Carol hasn't broken a record for being the most adapted piece of literature ever, then it surely must place pretty high up on the list. Charles Dickens' holiday classic is so easy to adapt, whether it be through its period appropriate context or re-written to fit into another era and culture, that it really is hard to screw up. Though depending on who you ask, favorite adaptations may range from Richard Donner's Scrooged to The Muppet Christmas Carol, with Alastair Sims and George C. Scott's turns as Scrooge topping both of those films easily.
1. The Harry Potter series
Harry Muggle-lovin' Potter, ladies and gentlemen. Vanquisher of magical foes, charmer of ladies and spells, and an all around awesome kind of guy. J.K. Rowling's literary empire reigns supreme in the eyes of the British people, and even with some of the more drastic revisions and trims that the series has taken in its cinematic journey, it's still a bright, shining example to be held above all. These films truly are the best adaptations, as they may not always nail the letter of the text, but they always capture the spirit and the world of Rowling's words. Good on you, Harry!
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CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.