Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Bookshelves to big screens: Hollywood’s notable adaptations

Brooklyn Leighton

Hollywood’s favorite pastime is turning beloved books into blockbuster movies. While these films are bringing attention back to classic novels, there is an art to staying true to the tone of the story while bringing it to the eyes of movie lovers. There are standout movies that bring fans of the book to theaters and movie lovers to bookstores to fall in love with their favorite characters over and over.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen 

Written in 1813, this enemies-to-lovers story follows Elizabeth Bennet, the second oldest of the five Bennet sisters in 19th century England. Elizabeth meets a wealthy man named Mr. Darcy who is equally as strong-headed as the Bennet sister. “Pride and Prejudice” tells the story of their love that grows for one another despite their efforts against it. 

The movie has been made many times, yet the version that stands out is the 2005 remake, in which Elizabeth Bennet is played by Kiera Knightley and Mr. Darcy is portrayed by Matthew MacFadyen. These two have captured the hearts of viewers since the release with the simple line, “You have bewitched me body and soul.”

Along with slight character modifications, particularly to Elizabeth, the costume and makeup also have been critiqued as not accurate with the time period.  Many would consider the 1995 adaptation as “more accurate,” however it does not stand a chance in bringing viewers in, making the 2005 film an instant classic and fan favorite. 

The Fault In Our Stars – John Green 

Originally published in 2012, “The Fault In Our Stars” changed the trajectory of many teenagers’ lives. It’s a love story of a teenage girl with lung cancer, Hazel Grace Lancaster, and a teenage boy, Augustus Waters, who meet in a support group for young teens that have been diagnosed with any form of the illness. This love story is guaranteed to steal your heart when reading. 

This movie could be argued as one of the most accurate book-to-movie adaptations with very few scenes taken out for the film. The plot stays true to the novel and keeps the integrity of the story. Hazel is portrayed by Shailene Woodley while Augustus is portrayed by Ansel Elgort, two young actors who stole the hearts of millions around the world when the film hit theaters in 2014. 

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Arguably one of the most well-known book series to movies is “The Hunger Games” series. It follows the life of Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 in the nation of Panem, when she volunteers to compete in the annual Hunger Games. The games were created by the power-hungry government, known as the Capitol, as a form of entertainment where they take two people, a young girl and a boy, from each of the 12 districts and put them in a fight to the death until there is only one person remaining. 

The film series took theaters by storm in 2012, bringing a whole new audience to the book series and creating a cult following. While certain smaller points were taken out from the movie, the films are seemingly pretty true to the book narrative. With small creative changes, like turning the book trilogy into a four-movie series, the movies accurately tell the story of Katniss who is portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence.

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Published in 1960, “To Kill a Mockingbird” was Harper Lee’s first novel and follows the life of Scout Finch, a young girl living with her brother Jem and their father Atticus in Maycomb, Alabama. This book includes themes of racism and prejudice when Atticus, who is a well-known lawyer, takes on a case defending a Black man, Tom Robinson, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a white woman.

This novel was made into a movie in 1962 starring Gregory Peck as Atticus and Mary Badham as Scout. This movie beautifully executed the story that was being told in the book and remains critically acclaimed to this day. The book won a Pulitzer prize while the movie won countless awards, including an Academy Award for the best-adapted screenplay.

The Great Gatsby –  F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The Great Gatsby” was probably one of the books you read in middle school because your English teacher forced you to. Following a summer in the life of the narrator Nick Carraway, who is the next-door neighbor of the mysterious Jay Gatsby who lives in the shadows while throwing the most extravagant roaring ‘20s parties. This book of mystery, love, lies and longing is guaranteed to make you fall deeper and deeper into the enigma that is Gatsby. 

Yet, the movie that was released in 2013 and directed by Baz Luhrmann, left fans of the book speechless. There is a tone difference between the book and the movie that changes the overall meaning of the story. Those that read the book gain a deeper understanding of the puzzling life that surrounds Gatsby, while those that only know Gatsby portrayed as Leonardo DiCaprio and Nick Carraway portrayed as Toby Maguire in the film will be left wondering if this wasn’t all just a dream. The differences, however, do not take away from the glitz and the glamour that filled the lives of the rich in the 1920s which is detailed in the book and movie. 

No matter the story, there is no pleasing book lovers. It does not matter how accurate the story may be in the film, there will always be complaints since it is an adaptation of the story that readers have grown to love while flipping through pages.

Book-to-movie adaptations, even when they do well at the box office, are hard to master. With that being said, many movies have successfully captured the hearts of readers globally and those films deserve recognition. 

Follow Keely on Twitter @menyhartkeely

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About the Contributors
Keely Menyhart, Arts & Entertainment Editor | she/her

Keely is a junior from Merritt Island, Florida. She is majoring in journalism with a print/web concentration and a minor in advertising. When she is not writing for the Journal, you can find her walking through museums, listening to music or rewatching her favorite shows. You can also find her exploring record stores and obsessing over new music. Keely plans on continuing her work from the Journal after graduating by covering music and entertainment for news publications.

Brooklyn Leighton, Opinion Editor | she/her
Brooklyn is a junior English major with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in journalism from Falmouth, MA. When she isn’t working on writing a book, she is listening to Taylor Swift, watching Marvel movies, or reading. She loves cats, baking, and spending time with her friends. After graduation, she plans on becoming an author and literary agent. 

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Bookshelves to big screens: Hollywood’s notable adaptations