Adapting brilliant novels into movies hasn’t always been easy, but these are the best movies based on books. In them, the director has managed to transfer to the big screen the essence of the characters and the rhythm of the plot.
Sometimes, even, the movie has managed to surpass the novel .
- You can also read: The 15 best movies based on real events.
Movies based on science fiction books
Science fiction has been one of the great genres likely to be converted from book to film. The visual potential has attracted great directors who have made sometimes truly brilliant adaptations. 1. Blade Runner (1982)
In 1968, the great masterpiece of the cyberpunk subgenre , Do Androids Sound Like Electric Sheep
, by writer Philip K. Dick, was published. The favorite themes of the time, such as the limits between the natural and the artificial, the destruction of societies and ethics in the face of androids, found a fertile field in the science fiction fever of the eighties.
Dick died shortly before Ridley Scott brought the Nexus 6 story to life., an android superior to humans whose elimination has to be taken care of by the retired Blade Runner Rick Deckard, in the film played by Harrison Ford.
It is true that the film is a free adaptation that takes its licenses with respect to Dick’s book, but that does not detract from its celebrity, all the more so since by now the film has long surpassed the myth of the novel . 2. Jurassic Park (1993)
The brilliant brain of Michael Crichton invented a dream story: how to return the dinosaurs to Earth by recovering their DNA in fossilized insects. This science fiction best-seller ended up being one of the highest grossing movies in historythat takes us to an exciting world of adventures and special effects.
Steven Spielberg (who else) made millions of spectators remain attached to their seats with their eyes wide open and their mouths open before such a colossal spectacle , which now seems trivial and ordinary to us, but which in 1993 was something absolutely new and great in cinema. With much more means in their favor, the sequels failed to match the original.
Steven Spielberg worked on the script directly with Michael Crichton to keep the essence of the plot, in which a billionaire’s dream of creating a theme park with flesh and blood dinosaurs spirals out of control. 3. The Lord of the Rings (2000)
JRR Tolkien created a universe that caught thousands and thousands of readers fond of fantastic worlds, but it didn’t even come close to the legions of fans that his saga now has thanks to its film version.
A director who had barely managed to excel in some minor gore movies, Peter Jackson, took the risk of making the Tolkien universe a reality and the result has been one of the most successful products in the history of cinema.
The three films corresponding to the three books were released consecutively for three Christmases, and years later the director surprised with the prequel to “The Hobbit”.
The success of Peter Jackson, beyond the special effects, ishaving aesthetically captured the spirit of Middle-earth, with its creatures and its magic, getting as close as possible to what we imagine in our minds when we read the books. 4. Harry Potter (2001)
The success of The Lord of the Rings suggested the possibility of adapting another saga that was sweeping readers, that of the wizard Harry Potter. Chris Columbus was put in charge of this adventure and succeeded in recreating the atmosphere of Hogwarts School as suggested in his creator JK Rowling’s books.
Chris Columbus’ invoice was remarkable and laid the foundations for Alfonso Cuaron to sign the best movieof the saga, the third installment: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Then came other movies from the same saga by Mike Newell and David Yates.
However, from the first to the last, the great cinematographic success of Harry Potter has been the invisible hand of screenwriter Steve Kloves , one of the most brilliant and dynamic minds in today’s cinema, who knew how to read the spirit of the adventures of the young Potter and the universe created by the author of the novels. 5. The Chronicles of Narnia (2005)
The peculiar personality of the medievalist, Christian apologist, literary critic and writer CS Lewis is the perfect setting to understand the fantastic world that he recreated in the book series The Chronicles of Narnia, in whichA group of friends accidentally enter the fantastic world of Narnia through the wardrobe.
In addition to being surrounded by animals that speak and magical and fabulous beings, the children begin to be in danger when the White Witch learns of their presence from her, and they will have to get rid of her with the help of the lion Aslan.
In 1988 Marilyn Fox made a not insignificant adaptation of the heptalogy, although the favorite films of the world of children and adolescents are the most recent . The first, directed by Andrew Adamson, premiered in 2005, and in 2008 he released the second installment. The third was directed by Michael Apted in 2010, and a new release with Joe Johnston as director is expected in 2019.The best movies based on history books
Great writers of universal literature managed to capture the great events of history in unforgettable novels, which were later adapted into classic films. 6. Gone with the Wind (1939)
The unforgettable love story between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, or what is the same, by Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, was based on a novel by Margaret Mitchell published in 1936 with the same title. Its success meant that just three years later the film was released, directed by Victor Fleming, with a script by the Oscar winner Sidney Howard.
The story is set against the backdrop of the War of the American Succession and, in addition to brilliant photography that received an Oscar,the film’s success lies in the fidelity with which Sidney Howard, who died six months before receiving the award, maintains the link between the personal history of the characters and the background.
Thanks to that, it is possible to portray the globality of a historical era , and the gradual decomposition of a society in which issues such as racism and slavery are not lacking. 7. El Gatopardo (1963)
A historical novel turned into a myth and a masterpiece of cinema, the sixties have as background one of the most exciting historical moments of the 19th century, the Italian unification. In this framework, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa managed to create the character of Don Fabrizio, who was later immortalized in the cinema by Burt Lancaster .
So faithfully did he manage to capture the historical events in his novel, that Lampedusa even created a current, Lampedusism, based on that of “changing everything so that nothing changes” . This spirit is captured by an immeasurable Luchino Visconti in a film that talks about the decline and collapse of the Italian aristocracy.
Brilliant photography and staging of a historical film to frame that won the Oscar for best costume and is still a classic to revisit. 8. Schindler’s List (1993)
This Oscar-winning film (7 Academy Awards) is the story of a challenge as enormous as that of transforming a sensitive story like that of the Jewish holocaust into a film that is both tragic and hopeful. Such a feat was within the reach of few, and one of them was Steven Spielberg, who signed one of the best movies in history .
It is also one of the most viewed around the world, so he popularized the story told in the book Schindler’s Ark, by Thomas Keneally. Spielberg, at the hands of screenwriter Steven Zaillian, remains faithful to the spirit of the story of a Nazi German industrialist who saved the lives of hundreds of Jews. The dramatic charge that surrounds the storyoriginal in a harrowing drama has the invaluable help of the performances of Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall and Ben Kingsley.
- It may interest you: The 30 best war movies in history.
9. The language of the butterflies (1999)
One of the best Spanish directors of the nineties, Jose Luis Cuerda, put the finishing touch to his career with The language of the butterflies, a beautiful story centered on the life of a republican teacher whose life is affected by the outbreak of political conflicts that will end in civil war .
In fact, it is not a movie about war, because it breaks out at the end of the movie. The essence of it, which respects the narration of the book by Manuel Rivas, is the relationship between Professor Don Gregorio and Moncho, a clever boy who awakens to life thanks to the professor’s teachings. The last scene literally breaks the heart .
Noteworthy in the film is the music, by Alejandro Amenabar, and the immeasurable performance of Fernando Fernan Gomez in the role of the professor . 10. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
In 1853 Solomon Northup recreated in a harrowing memoir the exciting and tragic story of him going from being a free American citizen to working as a slave on Louisiana plantations. Raptured by the story, Steve McQueen turned it, at the hands of screenwriter John Ridley, into a brilliant film that won three Oscars.
All the weight of the film falls on a formidable Chiwetel Ejioforwho embodies this cult African-American musician who is fighting to regain his status as a free man. The cast also features brilliant performances by Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.
Steve McQueen’s recreation of the tragedy of the slaves, especially when it focuses on physical abuse, becomes so real that it becomes sheer overwhelming terror . Movies based on suspense books
The hardest thing about translating suspense stories into movie thrillers is maintaining the original tension of the story. In some cases it is achieved in such a way that the book ends up surpassing the original story. 11. The Maltese Falcon (1939)
If Dashiell Hammett ever imagined the physical form of his detective Sam Spades, this had to be something very similar to Humphrey Bogart in one of his best roles. The novel by one of the best suspense writers and the film by one of the best directors of the time (John Huston) give us an exciting story.
Sam Spades and his assistant Archer are commissioned by a girl to find her sister, but in the middle comes the question of a statuette , a solid gold falcon, which the Knights of the Order of Malta gave to Charles V in the 19th century. XVI and was stolen by pirates. John Huston himself adapted the scriptfrom one of the best film noir films that offers us an agile thriller of robberies and crimes in which the best are its characters. 12. The Godfather (1972)
Francis Ford Coppola worked closely with Mario Puzo, author of the novel The Godfather , to bring the plot to the big screen. Both were in charge of the script, and Francis Ford Coppola of the direction of a trilogy that has become a legend.
In fact, The Godfather remains as the precedent of an authentic vein that the seventh art, and later the television series, found in the mafia plots. Everything ends up referring to the spirit of this criminal thriller in which Francis Ford Coppola found the soul of Mario Puzo’s storyabout the bloody war between mafia clans. In it , one of the iconic characters of cinema , Vito Corleone, who we will always remember in the skin of Marlon Brando caressing his cat,
remains for history . 13. Murder on the Orient Express (1974) The most successful thriller writer of all time , Agatha Christie, created in her stories an atmosphere that combined the best mystery plots with an attractive exoticism. This made her novels the object of desire for many filmmakers, but without a doubt Murder on the Orient Express has been the most adapted.
And without a doubt, the best achievement was that of Sidney Lumet in 1974, which in addition to giving us a brilliant performance by Ingrid Bergman, Oscar winner, traps us in a story that despite having read the book and knowing the outcome continues to attract us.
Kenneth Branagh made a remake in 2017 that, without missing a level, fails to reach Lumet’s realism beyond the technical improvements of the moment . 14. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Jack Nicholson played one of his best roles (with which he won the Oscar for best actor) playing Randle McMurphy, a lunatic whose longing for freedom and living against the tide breaks out in a fight against the system when he is confined in a psychiatric hospital .
This story, which has become one of the great cinema classics, was born from the homonymous novel by Ken Kesey, which at the time became a true Best Seller. In cinema, the Czech director Milos Forman made the best film of all time about the depth of madness , a film whose flaws are absorbed by the greatness of the whole. 15. The Shining (1980)
Jack Nicholson’s Oscar-winning role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest made Stanley Kubrick think he was the ideal candidate to bring to life one of the most disturbed minds in movie history. , the schizophrenic Jack Torrance.
The brilliant narration in the rhythm and in the plans of Kubrick and the talent of Nicholson go hand in hand to transform into images what the master of literary horror Stephen King left written in one of his best novels. The Shining is the story of a deranged man who attacks his own family in a snowbound hotel.
Rarely have we felt so much psychological terror in front of the screen . 16. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
One of the best thrillers in history is based on the novel The Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, although director Jonathan Demme adapted it as The Silence of the Lambs. psychological terrorthat he, along with screenwriter Ted Tally, manage to print the character played by Anthony Hopkins, elevate the film to myth above the book.
In addition, the love story of agent Clarice Starling and her boss Jack Crawford is not told in the film, but these licenses do not undermine the firm direction with which Demme immerses us in the atmosphere of tension that is established between the novice Clarice (Jodie Foster) and the sadistic doctor Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins).
None of the remakes that have been tried subsequently have managed to surpass the original. Movies based on children’s books
Entire generations have grown up feeding their imagination through the pages of unforgettable books that take us to other worlds. The genius of some film directors has managed to take us even further.
- You can also read: The 25 best movies for teenagers (also on Netflix).
17. The Wizard of Oz (1939) One of the most colorful and original children’s stories is a magical creation by Lyman Frank Baum in the 1900 book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
In this children’s fable, little Dorothy is swept with her puppy by a tornado to the world of Oz, where she has to help the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the lion to find a heart, a brain and the courage they need. .
In 1939 Victor Fleming took us along the Yellow Road to the Emerald City with an impressive recreation for the time. The movie The Wizard of Oz won two Oscars and offered an audience of all ages a stimulating spectacle of color and music on par with the best adaptations of children’s literature.. 18. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
Almost a century after the master of juvenile fiction Jules Verne wrote one of the great classics in the history of literature , Richard Fleischer put Kirk Douglas, Peter Mason, Peter Lorre and Paul Lukas in the role of the main protagonists of 20,000 leagues under the sea.
The creative ability and visual acuity of the director, and the intelligent adaptation of the screenwriter Earl Felton culminated in the best cinematographic reproduction of the Jules Vernes story in which a warship is sent on a mission to destroy a supposed monster that inhabits the depths of the Pacific Ocean, and that ends up being a submarine.
Film for children to enter the world of dream science of the French writer and for adults to return to the nostalgia of childhood. 19. The Neverending Story (1984)
An entire generation grew up recreating in their minds the world described by German writer Michael Ende in The Neverending Story (1979). Years later, director Wolfgang Petersen reconstructed the youth fable in a film only suitable for nostalgics .
In Ende’s story, a boy finds an old book in the attic that he devours during class time and that leads him to a mysterious world where a kind of “Nothing” gradually destroys the kingdom of fantasy. To prevent total destruction, Bastian discovers thatyou have to get inside the book .
Thus begins one of the most exciting adventures of fiction literature for young people, and a jewel of fantastic cinema that fell in love with an entire generation in the midst of the explosion of science fiction in the eighties. Revisiting this classic is revisiting the purity of our childhood . 20. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
The endearing and colorful world, oneiric, that Tim Burton gives us in this total product to which Johnny Depp puts the finishing touch, returns us to Roald Dahl’s children’s story Charlie and the factory of chocolate. Thanks to the perfect adaptation of the script, the film maintains the children’s essence of the story and elevates it to its fable category.
Although in some moments it loses vigor and rhythm, the film does not lack entertainment and becomes an attractive adventure that transports children to the world of dreams. The imagination of the director and the sophistication of the script complete a more than acceptable product. In 1971 Mel Stuart had already directed an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story in a film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which never hurts to revisit. Movies based on romantic books Romantic
bestsellers have always garnered a legion of admirers who have also been able to enjoy their favorite titles through the magic of cinema. 21. Wuthering Heights (1939) If we put the names of Emily Bronte and William Wyler togetherIt gives us as a result one of the most overwhelmingly sad romantic stories in the history of literature and cinema that puts us in the insoluble task of deciding if the book or the movie is better.
Because Wuthering Heights has become one of the quintessential literary classics of drama and love, and in turn one of the best directors in film history turned it into an image in 1939 with a magnificent duet by Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier . He received the Oscar for best photography with a brilliant reproduction of the sad English landscape.
Many will remember, however, with more freshness, the 1992 adaptation starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche , not so successful but also highly recommended.22. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
In 1965 David Lean made the film version of one of the great works of Russian literature written by Nobel laureate Boris Pasternak. Doctor Zhivago was a great blockbuster of the time of almost three hours in which the scenery, the photography and the performances of Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Julie Christie and Geraldine Chaplin shine above all.
The classic became a top-grossing film, although David Lean took more than one license to adapt Pasternak’s billet to the demands of commercial cinema. Despite this, it maintains the essence of the story of Yuri Zhivago, a poet and doctor whose life is turned upside down after the Bolshevik revolution with the arrival of the Russian civil war.
Lean emphasizes the love affairs of Yuri Zhivago with his wife and Lara, the woman with whom he falls madly in love, the film sometimes bordering on melodrama . 23. The Remains of the Day (1993)
This James Ivory melodrama was nominated for eight Oscars, but was released the same year as Schindler’s List, which swept the awards. However, there is a broad consensus in considering What remains of the day a marvel of the seventh art that combines an enormous narrative talent in the direction with a masterful production.
All this wraps up a truly delicious script in which Ruth Prawer Jhabvala adapts the story created by the Japanese-born British writer Kazuo Ishiguro .
In the film, an overflowing Anthony Hopkins plays the butler Stevens who works for an American millionaire (Christopher Reeve) and whose life changes with the arrival of a new housekeeper (Emma Thomson). As a gift, he offers one of the most beautiful silent romantic scenes in the history of cinema. 24. The Age of Innocence (1993)
One of the best movies based on romantic books has as its background the classic question of the contradiction between duty and desire when love infiltrates between rigid social classes. Although the subject is already very worn, from time to time great writers like Edith Warton manage to metabolize it into an exciting story .
Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder managed to climb to the peak of their literary nerve with indisputable power in a Martin Scorsese film that is a myth of romantic cinema.
Direction, script and actors keep the viewer with his heart in his fist through the story of Newland Archer, an aristocrat engaged to a girl of his social class who, however, feels driven by desire when he falls madly in love with the cousin of his future wife, in turn subjected to social prejudice for having separated from her husband. 25. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
After a real fiasco of bringing the best-selling Pride and Prejudice to the big screen in 2003, but with the precedent of a more than correct miniseries headed by Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, in 2005, Joe Wright finally found the way to the adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel into a film of overflowing joy.
In fact, the best thing about the film is the optimistic and vital tone, colorful and fantastic, of this romantic drama in which Keira Knightley finds the last of her shoe, even overshadowing the role of her partner Matthew Macfadyen, also at the height.
The aesthetics of the eighteenth century give a special charm, reinforced by good photography, to the story of the complexities of Lizzie’s soul whose yearning for freedom is disrupted when she meets Mr. Darcy, apparently vain and proud. At only 33 years old, Joe Wright signs one of the best movies based on romantic books. Movies based on books on Netflix
In the Netflix distributor you will find some of the best movies based on books in various genres. This is a modest list of recommendations.
- More movies: The 17 best Netflix movies so far.
26. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
The viewer is stunned when he discovers that the character whose adventures he has witnessed in the skin of Leonardo di Caprio exists and is called Jordan Belfort .
This nouveau riche who embodies the American dream by becoming a common and gray middle-class man in multimillionaire for his meteoric career as a stockbroker wrote in his memoirs his rise to fame and also his fall , the effects of the drunkenness of success in the individual and his subsequent scandals and problems with the law.
Although the movie The Wolf of Wall Street is three hours long, he is a dizzying whirlwind of frenzy that is consumed in the blink of an eye.with a harmonic combination of comedy and drama narrated by Martin Scorsese. 27. 1922 (2017)
In addition to being an incredibly prolific writer, Stpehen King creates stories whose color and vivacity are always capable of being transformed into cinema. Another of his works has recently been adapted to the big screen with a terrifying story called 1922.
This is a short novel in which a farmer kills his wife without suspecting that this will only be the beginning of his particular ordeal, since an army of rats and the very ghost of his wife begin to turn his life into torture. The film is signed by Zak Hilditch and stars Thomas Jane and Neal McDonough. 28. Gerald’s Game (2017)
Shortly before 1922, a film was released that was even more successful and is also one of the best films based on Stephen King’s books : Gerald’s Game. In this case, it focuses on an unfortunate incident when Jessie’s husband dies during her sexual intercourse while she is handcuffed on the bed, and she is trapped with no chance of escaping from her.
The terrifying visions that Jessie begins to see of a murderous dog and a macabre individual are confused with her own inner monologue in a fight for survival that is, at the same time, an introspective therapy. Mike Flanagan, who is no newcomer to horror movies, maintains the psychological tension of the literary story and coats it with the effects of the genre .
The distributor Netflix has other movies based on Stephen King books such as Christine, The Fog and Deadly Connection. 29. Beasts of No Nation (2015)
The drama of child soldiers with the civil wars that devastate the African continent as a backdrop is the theme of this film directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and featuring the unforgettable performance of Idris Elba .
Despite a certain excess of voiceover that perverts the effect of depth to derive it into a predictable product, overall we are before an exceptional film that at times refers to Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.
Beyond the final result and the performances, here it is necessary to value Fukunaga’s natural talent, sometimes overlooked, who revealed himself as a sweeping force in True Detective (series) and who now assumes the responsibility of a material sensitive drama . 30. The Danish Girl (2015)
It was not very well received by critics, who considered it insipid and lacking in tension, but the story told by The Danish Girl is most interesting, and its great merit is found in the pages of the novel David Ebershoff wrote .
In addition, the story is based on real events: When in the roaring twenties Einar Wegener replaces Gerda’s female model, his painter wife, the final resemblance of the portraits encourages Einar toadopt a feminine appearance . What at first begins as a game ends up being a total catharsis for the protagonist himself.
An entertaining story that reflects on the concept of identities that is so much in vogue today, and that features a magnificent performance by Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander .
- You can also read: The 20 best Mexican movies in history.
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All the news and news about cinema and series of the moment, you will find them in this link.