Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Reading Assignment: movies from books

I love it when books I've read are made into movies, although watching them can sometimes lead to rage, if you don't agree with the treatment of a particularly beloved novel.  For the most part, I'm pretty tolerant, and I know of one instance (The Secret of Roan Inish) in which the movie is actually better than the book.

I recently watched the Masterpiece Theater production of The Cazelets, based on the series by Elizabeth Jane Howard, which I loved.  This is a six-hour miniseries, made in 2001.  It doesn't star anyone particularly famous (except for Hugh Bonneville, who I think has been legally obligated to appear in every single British film made since 1998).  The only cast member I recognized is Anna Chancellor, who plays Diana, Edward Cazalet's lover.  She was Miss Bingley in the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle Pride and Prejudice.

The cast may not be famous, but the acting is excellent.  I particularly liked Patsy Rowlands as Miss Millament the governess, Stephen Dillane as Edward Cazalet, (though his character is such a shit) Lesley Manville as Villy Cazalet, and Florence Hoath as Clary.
Patsy Rowlands as Miss Millament

My one complaint is that the movie really only covers the first two books in the series. Several stories, such as the romance between Tonbridge, the chauffeur and Mrs.Cripps, the cook, were still developing at the conclusion.  I wonder if there was a plan to make a second series and they never followed through.  The DVDs from Netflix were damaged, so there were chunks that I couldn't see, including the very end.  Maybe they did a hasty wrap up, but the rest of the movie is so sensitively filmed that I'd be surprised if they stooped to such a cheap trick.

Overall, I loved the movie.  It's respectful of the novels and thoughtfully casted, costumed, and directed.  It's also unbearably sad.  I think for me, some of the sad scenes were difficult because they closely paralleled things that have happened in my own life, and I found myself crying more than once.  Indeed, my children were so concerned that they asked me to stop watching. It's not all tears, though, and I loved naughty Neville Cazalet, and there are delicious gossipy-fashiony scenes too.  The damaged discs were a bummer though.  Unfortunately, there's no hope for a second series at this point.  Patsy Rowlands died in 2005 and the other cast members have grown up and moved on.

What's your favorite film adaptation of a novel?  Also, name one that you found disappointing.


  1. Favorite film from a book? Probably "Anne of Green Gables" with Megan Follows as Anne, Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla & Richard Farnsworth as Matthew. Perfect casting with those three.

    A disappointing one? So many to list. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood comes to mind, as does Simon Burch (A Prayer for Owen Meaney).

  2. I think the best adaption of a book into a film is "The Godfather," which, while not an especially good book, is an excellent film. I also really like the film version of "The Namesake."

    The worst one that I can think of off the top of my head is the movie they made of Frank Herbert's "Dune"

  3. I've always loved the film adaptation of "The Princess Bride" because it clung to the book.
    I do want to watch this series when I finish reading it!!!

  4. Becky, I LOVE the Anne of Green Gables movies (except for the very last one, set during WWI) and all the books.

    Laoch, I have never seen or read The Godfather. I really ought to. I've seen bits of Dune, passively when it was on TV and other people were watching. It doesn't look like something I would like. But wasn't Sting in it?

    Green Girl--I love the Princess Bride movie, but I have never read the book.

  5. Sting was in Dune, which while being a very good book, was a truly an awful film. There is a British Miniseries made of Dune which was quite good.

    The Godfather is really well made and acted and deservedly iconic. The book is pedestrian although perhaps could be looked at as a user manual for power wanting to obtain power.

  6. "To Kill a Mockingbird" was a great adaptation as was Stephen King's "Shawshank Redmption". Worst? Anything where they fuse two book characters into one with elements of both personalities and then assume that the reader won't notice the difference. HATE it when this happens!