I usually don’t have very great expectations when it comes to films adapted from classic novels but over the years some adaptations have stood out, either because of their uncompromising faithfulness to a classic novel or for their wonderful re-imagining of such a novel.
Sergei Bondarchuk’s sumptuous retelling of Tolstoy’s War and Peace just may be the best screen adaptation of all time. Not only did he capture the narrative flow of the novel, but many of its more subtle passages, as Pierre Bezukhov wrestles with the brute forces of Revolution befalling his country.
Roman Polanski beautifully evoked Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, Tess. He found the perfect actress to fill the role in Nastassja Kinski. Some of the scenes may be a little murky, but the pace is pitch perfect leading to the story’s fateful ending.
Paul Thomas Anderson stripped Upton Sinclair’s novel, Oil, to its essential elements, doing away with the pedantic tone Sinclair took in all his political novels. He probably could have filled out his periphery characters more, but Daniel Day-Lewis offered one of the most compelling anti-heros in recent years.
Merchant and Ivory have provided many faithful adaptations of novels, but the one that sticks out most in my memory is James Ivory’s The Remains of the Day, from Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, largely thanks to the very compelling performances by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.
One of the more audacious screen adaptations is Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which literally re-invents Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness.
Here are more film adaptations that stood out in my mind,Read less