Tag Archives: adaptations

Catch Me If You Can: An Awesome Non-Fiction Adaptation

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly meme hosted by Picture Me Reading, focusing on the book to movie adaptations we love. This week’s topic is an Awesome Non-Fiction Adaptation.


As mentioned on yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday, I have actually read the non-fiction account of Frank Abgnale, Catch Me If You Can. In the book he tells the story of how as a brilliant but bored young man he went from conning his dad with a gas card to how he passed himself off as a doctor, a lawyer, and a pilot.

catchme-quote2There are differences between the two stories, obviously. The movie does dramatize and condense some events. One of the main ways the film dramatizes the true story is by giving Abagnale (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) one clear protagonist in Carl Hanratty, played by Tom Hanks. In the film, the two are engaged in a true cat and mouse hunt, that begins when Abagnale dupes Hanratty into thinking he is an agent also looking for the con artist, to their annual phone conversations on Christmas Eve. And at the end, the two actually end up learning a lot from each other. I really enjoy watching the dynamic between the two of them on the screen.

This scene is a true standout for me, so much so that every time I hear “The Christmas Song,” I can’t not think about this scene:

Though I do find the movie more enjoyable, I do appreciate the additional insight the book brings, especially in who Frank Abagnale is as a person, and what exactly was going through his mind throughout his exploitations.


He also feels remorse for what he has done in the past, especially for the people he had hurt. And as explained in both the book and the movie, Frank is now working to help stop fraud.

Catch Me If You Can is an easy and interesting read; and the movie is a fun romp with serious undertones, and I feel a standout early performance of Leonardo DiCaprio’s.

Have you seen the movie or read the book? What are your thoughts? 

My Top Ten Best Movie Adaptations

There are so many movies based on books that sometimes, we might see a movie multiple times before we realize that it was actually based on a book! Usually in these cases, the movie has become something bigger than the book ever was. On the flip side, some movies have a built-in audience because of the wide popularity of the book. The Broke and The Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday topic this week fits in perfectly with the idea behind this blog, because it honors what I love about various forms of storytelling. My Top 10 for the week consist of the Top 5 (plus an honorable mention) Movie Adaptations where I have read the book, and the Top 5 (plus an honorable mention) Movie Adaptations where I have not read the book (but the movie makes me want to!). Here’s my list in no particular order.

Top 5 Movie Adaptations of Books I Have Actually Read

1. Pride and Prejudice

book-movie-pandpThis is a case where I saw the movie first, LOVED IT, then read the book. Though I appreciate the content from the original source, I have to admit, the movie make me swoon much more! Of course, it helps to see it all play out before your eyes. And is just me, or does Mr. Darcy seriously become more attractive to us as the viewer the moment he becomes more attractive to Lizzie? How do they do that?!

2. Sherlock Holmes

book-movie-holmesthink I have read all of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but if not, I’ve read at least a large portion of it. From my first Holmes story I was really intrigued with the character of Sherlock and his amazing skills of deduction. When I heard about the movie version with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, I was beyond excited. Some people seemed to doubt it would work, but I felt it would be a perfect match, and I believe it was! Though it is not a strict adaptation in terms of using one of Doyle’s stories, all the elements of a great Sherlock mystery are there for both the first and second of this Holmes franchise.

3. The Hunger Games


I started reading The Hunger Games in August 2011 after hearing a couple of recommendations for it as well as seeing hype for the upcoming movie. Since I was out of town and not constricted to my regular work schedule, I was able to fly through the first book in two days. I could barely stop reading. The same was true for the next two, even when I did have to go back to regular life schedule. I had high hopes for the movie, but I also knew a lot could change. Overall, I liked what they did with the film, though there was a little more I would have liked to have seen. However, Catching Fire looks like it is going to be completely amazing and I can hardly wait!

4. Catch Me If You Can


Despite some differences with the actual account of Frank Abagnale and his conning schemes, this movie really serves his story justice.

5. Little Women


I completely adore both the book and the movie, and feel the 1994 movie does a good job with highlighting the main elements of the novel. And hello, Christian Bale as Laurie?! What’s not to love?

Honorable Mention: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

lionwitchwardrobeI completely love the book, and I love how the Disney movie really brought the story to life. I think all the children were perfectly cast, it’s just too bad that Prince Caspian was not quite as good.

Top 5 Movie Adaptations of Books I Haven’t Read (Yet!)

1. The Prestige


I have listened to part of The Prestige the novel in audio book format, and the only reason I stopped was due to the fact that while listening from Overdrive (the app/program my library uses to borrow audio books) I was apparently streaming the book with my phone’s data and totally eating it up. I definitely intend to finish one day, as I was intrigued by both the differences and similarities between the book and movie. But regardless of the fact that I have not finished the novel, I feel like the movie does capture the spirit of the book. It is also just a fantastic film that really got me to recognize Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker.

2. Emma


Though I enjoy the Gwyneth Paltrow version, I absolutely love the more recent BBC minis-series version, starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller. And though I have not read the book yet, since there are many similarities between it and the Gwyneth version (though this one is more detailed), I feel it must be fairly true to the book.

3. Phantom of the Opera


Technically the movie is based on the musical based on the book. I have not read the book and am not sure how much the musical and movie hold true to it, but the movie is pretty close to the musical (which I saw on Broadway in New York when I was in college, scratching an item off my bucket list!). Joel Schumaker gets a lot of flack for many of his directional efforts, but Phantom is a beautiful film to watch and listen to. And it makes me more curious about the original story!

4. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


The movie is such a fun romp, and though greatly condensed from the book, it was fortunate to have the author of the book as a screenwriter. So while I have not the book for comparison yet, I feel comfortable saying that the spirit of the movie is much the same as the book.

5. A Beautiful Mind


I first saw this movie in my high school psychology class and fell in love with it. It’s beautifully shot, and the story is powerful as well. Though I have not read the book, I know of some of the differences, especially in the portrayal of schizophrenia. Schizophrenic hallucinations are based on hearing things and if I recall correctly, even smelling things, but not so much seeing things. For film, however, this had to be adjusted. I definitely want to read the book though, as schizophrenia is a subject that has fascinated me since watching this film.

Honorable Mention: The Return of The King

book-movie-kingAll these movies are great, albeit very different from the books based on what I have been told. I find The Return of the King to be a very powerful conclusion to the franchise, even with its ridiculously long and screenwriting-rule-breaking ending.

What book-to-movie adaptations are your favorite? And have you actually read the books? 

The Prestige: A Magical Adaptation

Once again I am participating in Picture Me Reading’s weekly meme Awesome Adaptations, about films that have been adapted to screen from books. This week’s theme is “An Awesomely Magical Adaptation.”

I have not kept it a secret that I really love what Christopher Nolan does as a writer and a filmmaker. In 2006 he released a movie of intrigue based on a novel by the same name, The Prestige, about two feuding magicians.

prestigeI have listened to about half of The Prestige audio book, so I can only compare the two stories so much. The book starts in modern-day, with a young man, Andrew Westley, who we come to find out is Alfred Borden’s great grandson. Since he has been adopted, he learns of this connection only recently at the time the book begins. He is a journalist for a local paper who travels to a place for a story, only to find out that he has been summoned by Kate Angier, the great-granddaughter of Rupert Angier (who is named Robert in the film), who has some questions for Andrew that she believes will explain a mystery surrounding their magician predecessors and from their own childhood. Later, we get Alfred Borden’s account of his story in his own words. Then we get the perspective of Kate, and then we get Rupert Angier’s account in his own words (what happens beyond this point I’m not sure).

“Are you watching closely?”

The accounts of Bolden and Angier share similarities and dissimilarities between the story of the two magicians in the film. In the film, the two appear to be friends and colleagues at first, who then become scorned with one another after a  terrible accident. In the book, an accident does turn the two against each other, though they are hardly acquainted beforehand, and Bolden is not even aware of what the consequences of his actions have borne for Angier. The focus for the magicians in both the book and the movie, however, is on each magician wanting to create the best version of The New Transported Man illusion, where the magician himself appears to be transported in less than a second.

prestige-onstageNolan, however, clearly added some elements for dramatic purposes. (Warning, movie spoilers ahead) Unless these things come up later in the book, it appears that Borden was never on trial, that his wife Rebecca never hung herself, and that Angier’s wife did not drown on stage. Borden and Angier also do not exchange many words during the book, and they especially don’t appear to write secret coded journals specifically for the other magician to find. Nolan also eliminated the modern-day story line that is in the book, which I have found myself engrossed in since I am not sure what will happen there, but I can understand how it needed to be cut for a feature length film.


What I find most fascinating about the film Nolan created is that the viewer doesn’t even know who they are really supposed to root for. Most people I saw the movie with did seem to sympathize with Angier more, whereas I had sided with Borden; but regardless, who the true protagonist is and who the true antagonist is is left quite gray. In the book, when you read (or in my case, hear) Borden’s account, he’s easy to side with. He admits he started a skirmish with Angier, but sought to make amends and did not want it to continue, whereas Angier seemed to further provoke it. Then when you hear Angier’s side, you understand better why he did what he did. Again, it’s quite gray, and even generations later, you see that the families have still not forgiven each other entirely.

(L-R) Hugh Jackman, Andy SerkisThere’s no real magic in The Prestige, but there is a lot of science, wonder, and creativity crafting the great illusions the magicians perform. And sadly, their stage lives also often overshadow, rule, and consume their real lives. For a great story about the mystery of stage magic as well as the intrigue of the human condition, I would definitely recommend the film The Prestige, and based on what I have experienced with the book so far, I would recommend it as well.

Have you seen the film or read the book? What are your thoughts? 

Why Rebecca Needs to be Readapted

For the first time I am participating in Awesome Adaptations hosted by Picture Me Reading. Every week there is a new category to explore great adaptations of books to film. This week’s category is “Another Awesome Novel That Needs To Be Adapted.” After doing a lot of thinking, however, I wanted to focus on a novel that was adapted to the screen several years ago, but that I think could use a re-do, is the classic novel Rebecca.

rebecca-book&movieI read it in high school and probably need to re-read it, but I remember enjoying the suspense of it. Alfred Hitchcock adapted the book to a movie in 1940, and it was pretty good, as Hitchcock’s works typically are, but I think it is one of the few Hitchcock films that would benefit from a makeover by a more modern filmmaker (because I firmly believe that you just can’t duplicate Psycho or Rear Window). Here’s the synopsis from the IMDB movie pageWhen a naive young woman marries a rich widower and settles in his gigantic mansion, she finds the memory of the first wife maintaining a grip on her husband and the servants. So who would star in this version of Rebecca?

dewinters2Emma Stone and Jude Law, pictured above next to the originals just for comparison’s sake. The age gap between the wealthy widower Mr. and the young, naive Mrs. de Winter is supposed to be noticeable, and I believe the age difference between Jude Law and Emma Stone of 14 years feels about right for the story.

I think a director with a knack for suspense ought to be the one at the head of the project, but I have not decided who I would choose. I mulled over a few possibilities but I’m still not sure, as I don’t know what modern-day film to equate to the likes of Rebecca would be. Who do you think would be a great director for this film? And…

What do you think of a Rebecca re-adaptation? Which book are you most interested in seeing becoming adapted to film?