I was inspired to write this by the series of posts Redeemed Reader did a couple of weeks ago on making movies from books. It got me thinking and my thoughts led me to decide that it would make a wonderful installment of My Favorite Things. Turning books into movies is a tricky business because there is already a loyal fan base that will have firm opinions on what is being done. Most of the time my reaction is somewhere along the lines of "that was good but the book is better". Sometimes I become enraged by what they have done to a beloved book. (See the most recent The Count of Monte Cristo and Les Miserables. Actually don't see them, but those are examples.) There are times when I actually like the movie better than the book, where the movie becomes what I want to experience again. These are my absolute favorite adaptations.
How to Train Your Dragon, also one of my favorite animated movies in recent memory, is just wonderful. The writing is top notch and rhythmic, there is a sympathetic, inventive, likable hero, a capable and daring heroine, dragons who are fierce and dangerous, witty dialogue, and an engrossing story. The book has none of these things.
Stardust: I have a complicated relationship with Niel Gaiman's writing. This is one of his books that I enjoyed, but I ended up loving the movie. It is one of my favorites. I watch it regularly. The movie has more humor, the pacing is better, the chemistry between Tristan and Yvaine sparks more. And because I am a sap I am better satisfied with the movie's ending.
The Princess Bride This one might be because I had seen the movie a million times before I ever tried to read the book. I was in grade school when I saw it in the theater. Although I have heard so many others who agree with this one that I know it isn't just me.
Peter Pan This live action one, not the insipid Disney version. I am not a big fan of Barrie's prose, but I like the concept and story he came up with. I think this version has done the best job capturing the spirit of his vision and themes. Also, Jason Isaacs is BRILLIANT. It was a stroke of genius to have him play both Captain Hook and Mr. Darling.
The Lord of the Rings I know. I know. You can't say anything to me about this choice that my husband, who rereads the books every year, hasn't already said. Me? I read the books. Yes, before I saw the movies. Am I ever going to reread them? Not if I can help it. I enjoyed them alright, and I feel proper indebtedness to Tolkien for what he did for fantasy as a genre, but I never want to read them again. I like the movies lots though.
And here are the movies that I am willing to substitute for their books when I want to relax my brain:
Pride and Prejudice (the 1995 BBC version)
Sense and Sensibility (the Emma Thompson one)
Anne of Green Gables
Strong Poison (but not Gaudy Night)
The Secret Garden
Charlotte's Web (the new one)
To Kill a Mockingbird
I have conflicted feelings about the Harry Potter movies, but they belong on this list too.