50 greatest book movie adaptations

Adapt and thrive

Books. Generally filled with pages that were in turn filled with words arranged in the rough approximation of ideas, these creations were highly regarded by early societies. But after the advent of cinema and television, books were largely regarded as ancient relics with little practical value beyond propping up table legs.

In certain cases, filmmakers could use what is technically referred to as 'movie magic' to convert these dusty tomes into enjoyable cinematic experiences. The 50 most notable results of this occult process are hereafter detailed.

50. Forrest Gump (1994)

The Book: Winston Grooms 1986 novel follows the adventures of the titular character, from shrimp-fishin to running around the world.

The Movie: A feel-good biopic, Robert Zemeckis Forrest Gump captured the hearts of cinemagoers with its sentimental-yet-gripping look at a simple Southern man, effortlessly portrayed by Tom Hanks, as he makes sense of the world around him. In the novel, Forrest embarks on a NASA mission with an astronaut and an ape named Sue which ends when they crash land back to Earth and get captured by cannibals. This entire sequence was (unsurprisingly) not featured in the movie.

49. Into The Wild (2008)

The Book: A narrative account written by reporter Jon Krakauer based on the life of Christopher McCandless. An adventurer inspired by Jack London who wandered into the wilderness with a dream of expanding his horizons.

The Movie: An inspirational drama directed by a fan of the book, Sean Penn. This cautionary tale instills a magical excitement to McCandless adventure, mainly due to its star Emile Hirsch pouring his soul into his performance. The real-life McCandless was portrayed as far more serious in the book, shunning girls and proving more rebellious towards authority.

48. Mystic River (2003)

The Book: Dennis Lehanes Bostonian novel centres on the lives of three childhood friends who experience a trauma in their formative years.

The Movie: Clint Eastwoods bleak tale cast Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon as the grown-up counterparts to the young lads. The twisty-turny drama of the novel translated to the screen for one of the years best ensemble thrillers. The opening sequence of the novel takes place at a train station, whereas in the movie the boys are approached while theyre playing street hockey, making things slightly more action-y.

47. Die Hard (1988)

The Book: A pulpy thriller titled Nothing Lasts Forever, penned by Roderick Thorp as a sequel to his earlier novel, The Detective.

The Movie: Bruce Willis role of ruthless cop John McClane, and the now-iconic image of him sweatily-clad in a white vest, catapulted the star into the limelight. A brainy actioner, Die Hards strengths lie in its commitment to telling a fun story with a ton of uber-cool explosions and killer one-liners. The novels anti-hero is called Joe Leland, not the reworked John McClane as he is referred to in the movie.

46. The Thing (1982)

The Book: A 1938 sci-fi novella by author John W. Campbell Jr. entitled Who Goes There? investigates the paranoia around a group of secluded scientists in Antarctica once their base is compromised by an alien.

The Movie: John Carpenters brilliantly-realised 1982 adaptation fuses horror and sci-fi into a scary-as-hell monster flick. The group of scientists, led by Kurt Russells Macready, catfight, bitch and squabble while uncovering the sheer incredulity of their alien invader. Shapeshifting never looked so good. Literally. Rob Bottin and Stan Winstons animatronics put the 2011 rebootequel CGI efforts to shame. The novella briefly describes The Things original real form - a blue-pelted blob with red eyes. We only see the gaping hole left in the ice in the movie.

45. Requiem For A Dream (1999)

The Book: Hubert Selby Jrs novel braids together four equally-harrowing stories of drug addiction in Brooklyn.

The Movie: Filming the unfilmable, Darren Aronofskys rendition pulls no punches when it comes to delivering the goods. The hopeful intent of the books beginnings languish into subdued hues of utter degradation and depravity. An absolute must-see for its solid core of performances from Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn, and Jennifer Connelly. The character of infomercial presenter Tappy Tibbons was created solely for the film.

44. A Clockwork Orange (1972)

The Book: A slim novella published in 1962 and written by Anthony Burgess, exploring violent themes beget by the dissatisfaction of youth.

The Movie: Surrounded by controversy upon release, Stanley Kubricks vision of Burgess novel sparked a furor of debate for its hyper-stylised rape sequence and purported glamorisation of violence. In later years the film was praised for its depiction of youth-gone-wild culture pushed to the extreme by the delinquent Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his gang of droogs. The film bows out on Alex, immediately upon release from hospital claiming sarcastically I was cured alright! - leaving the audience to ponder the authenticity of his claim. In the novel we see him into old age as he loses his propensity for violence and desires a family.

43. Cool Hand Luke (1967)

The Book: Written by Donn Pearce based on his own experiences working in a chain gang.

The Movie: A cocksure war hero, Paul Newmans Luke comes to epitomise the sense of hope his fellow prisoners desperately need to survive. Through a series of failed escape attempts, a cluster of legendary one-liners emerged in this poignant, riveting and often funny spot of drama. The story is told in first-person narration for the novel by a fellow prisoner called Sailor, who through flashbacks, recalls the time Luke came into his life. The character is completely absent from the film.

42. The Color Purple (1985)

The Book: American novelist Alice Walkers Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of a young African-American woman living in the deep south during the 1930s.

The Movie: Steven Spielbergs period piece captured the novels loyalty to its narrators story, scooping 11 Oscar nominations as a result. Whoopi Goldbergs Celie, caught in the strife of rampant racism and sexism, carries the film as she seeks out strength to overcome her situation. The intimate relationship between Celie and Shug is downplayed in the film, whereas the novel expands on an undoubtedly lesbian affair.