By Anna

Since the first Academy Awards, an Oscar for best screenplay adaptation has been awarded. Screenwriting wasn’t even initially considered a field because everyone just adapted plays for the silver screen. These days are nothing new, even though it seems like every “new” film is a remake or adaptation, it’s not always a disservice to the industry. So here are a few of my favorites and least favorites based on which medium tells the story better or enlightens the audiences’ view in a new way.


1. Wit: Emma Thompson brought me to tears in this play adaptation of a woman dying of cancer. It is a powerful force bringing literature, film and death together telling us that we ought not to suffer alone. It is terribly sad and clever.

2. Apocalypse Now: Francis Ford Coppola’s intense Vietnam War film is based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness loosely, but profoundly. Coppola takes the skeleton of Heart but places us in another jungle and another time. Comparing and contrasting the colonization of Africa with the senseless war in Vietnam was smart, and I would like to see more films take this adaptive approach.

3. No Country for Old Men: Adapted almost exactly doesn’t mean the Coen brothers do film better than McCartney does books, but they certainly enhance one’s experience of the Texas border. Every detail added to the experience and held me captive, just as the book did.

4. The Hours: I was skeptical that the movie could be adapted well enough to fit the poetic nature of Cunningham’s novel, but the film was just as poetic. Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep play their roles effortlessly, giving the audience fear and hope. I would suggest reading the book, but the movie is also moving.

5. A River Runs Through It: I actually prefer the movie over the book because it puts the viewer in the rivers in Montana. I am always intrigued when a film uses a narrator, suggesting that a movie does in fact function like a book, but providing the visuals for you. Both mediums embrace the challenges of life and familial commitment necessary for success.


    1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s: This adaptation has always upset me because Truman Capote writes so eloquently and efficiently—not wasting a word—where as the film doesn’t do a great job staying true to his character development nor staying true to the ending. They are pretty decent separate from each other though.
    2. Away from Her: Eh—about both the film and the short story. I think short stories can make the best films because it gives directors creative liberty without being distracted by the plot. This film was minor, but the short story was better.
    3. The Cider House Rules: People should not be adapting John Irving’s work for the screen. He’s too great of a writer and no one has adapted his work justly.
    4. The Grapes of Wrath: I love Peter Fonda, but this film is not near as brilliant as the book. Again, it might be ok separate from Steinbeck’s novel, but don’t put them together and don’t replace the film with the book if you’re teaching Steinbeck.
    5. The Great Gatsby: The movie seemed disinterested in its own characters.

      Quick Reviews from Movies I saw this week:

      Alice Adams

      The first Katharine Hepburn film I’ve seen that was pretty obnoxious. She can’t help it though since it’s one of her breakout films. She’ll go on only three years later to make Bringing Up Baby one of my favorites. Alice is a young poor girl who cannot get a boy because her father won’t buy her new clothes. Naturally a handsome rich man falls for her absurdities, and for no apparent reason. It ends happily ever after for all involved.

      Wendy & Lucy

      Michelle Williams is great in this lone traveler film. Traveling with only her dog, Lucy, from Indiana to Alaska, Wendy breaks down in Oregon. Oregon residents take on her plight positively and negatively. It is a heart-wrenching work about human need and stereotypes. How far should we go to help strangers? It’s worth seeing, even twice, but it is tough because of the challenging introspection posed.