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The Best Prose-To-Screen Adaptation Ever? Vote!

As we commiserate the end of the Harry Potter series as well as the end of the first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, a thought occurred: What’s the best screen adaptation of a genre novel so far? Have your say after the jump.

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Note: There are some obvious choices not listed above, because (a) I didn’t want to have too many options, and (b) Blade Runner aside, I actually kind of dislike all of the Philip K. Dick adaptations, so no Total Recall or Minority Report for you, readers. Well, unless you put them in as write-ins. Oh, and there’s also option (c), that I just plum forgot about some classics. Again, use the comments to tell me what I missed.


  • Nataniel Costard

    Uf, what a topic!

    My personal favourite is Kubrick`s Lolita. He wrote it together with the motherf**king Nabokov, and they pulled a film about a pedophile who falls deeply in love with a 12/16 years old teen in 1960. They changed many, many things, but when they did the new version in the 90`s, it was exactly like the novel… and didn`t worked at all. I guess that`s what happens when you got two of the most incredible geniuses in history working together…

  • Kevin M. Brettauer

    Keith Gordon’s adaptation of Mother Night is sheer genius. Spot-on casting, performances, cinematography and direction. Haunting stuff.

  • 123

    Deffo none of the above, would have to go for Clockwork Orange, The Colour Purple or Precious. Sci-Fi just can’t match the unlimited budget of a book on the screen.

  • Nataniel Costard

    2001 is also very cool. The book itself is really easy to understand, nothing weird about it. Kubrick took that “simple” story and transformed it in one of the most wonderful reflections about, well, just everything. That was a thing with Kubrick too, he could take some not that amazing book and transform it into wicked amazing art. Barry Lyndon comes to mind too… which shows you that sometimes the films are not only as good as the books, but even better…

    Well, as I said, wonderful topic to talk about for hours!

  • Coryjameson

    A Game of Thrones is actually better than Lord of the Rings. It’s better written – simple as that.

    Hobbits. Nuff’ said.

  • Dan Taylor

    JAWS. Discussion over.

  • Gary

    Fight Club

  • Ben

    Silence Of The Lambs. It was probably as faithful as any page to screen adaptation I’ve seen thus far, though Game Of Thrones was also pretty amazing.

  • Rt

    Jurassic Park.  Good book.  Great movie.

  • DB

    Kind of surprised Coppolla’s adaptation of “Heart Of Darkness” isn’t included.  If only because it brilliantly translates the premise from Colonialism Africa to the Vietnam War seamlessly, and it resulted in one of the greatest films of all time.

  • Btilley2

    Lord of the rings took out and added too much for me

  • Charlie Bronson

    Princess Bride!

    Or you know, maybe Fight Club.

  •!/ David R. Schmitt

    Hobbits are awesome! But George Martin writes in a more contemporary prose and the two (him and Tolkien) have/had different writing styles and his writing seems to meld well in the current Spartacus/True Blood/Camelot etc gritty fantasy storytelling. Tolkien is pure fantasy, Martin reads more like historic drama with fantastic elements.

  • Horn32374

    The green mile.

  • Jonas

    The Shawshank Redemption

  • Guerrillastudios

    fight club or Fear and loathing in las vegas.  Their flawless

  • saucyllama

    oh, and 2001 is really a book of the film, written based on the script by clarke and kubrick and not completed till the film was being edited.

  • Trey

    I have to go with Fight Club simply because it retain the same feel as the book.  

    I love 2001 but it’s so much more than The Sentinel so I can’t really call it a faithful adaptation.  Now if you use the idea off of the novel yeah sure it’s spot on but only because Clarke wrote it as a novelization of the script he and Kubrick wrote so I don’t think that would really count.

  • Booknutt

    The Green Mile

  • Lance C Johnson

    I say To Kill a Mockingbird even though I like a lot of the choices that were offered.

  • Lance C Johnson

    Crud…didn’t see that the question was about “genre novels”.  Let me take back my answer and go with Lord of the Rings

  • Bill Reed

    Well, you said “genre,” so…

    Does A Clockwork Orange count?

  • Josh

    Marathon Man by William Goldman.

  • Don

    “The Godfather” film actually accomplishes the rare feat of surpassing the novel.

  • Megan Perry

    I <3 Harry Potter and all but LoTR is unquestionably the best to date.

  • Anonymous

    I voted ‘other’ because for me Tales Of The City set the standard for unflinchingly sticking to the source material…

  • Lackshmana

    Blade Runner.

    They took a bizarre and fairly plodding story and made it one of the greatest examples of storytelling on film.

    Lord of the RIngs could have been much better with less changes.

    Game of Thrones was pretty awful and seemed to be changed to play to the True Blood crowd.

    True Blood is trite, romance novel trash.

    Twilight is abstinence porn.

    Harry Potter took a charming kids story and tried to make it an epic “dark” adventure so adults would feel less guilty about liking it, to the detriment of the films and later novels.

    I haven’t read any of 2001, so I can’t comment.

    Farenheit 451….really? really? How the hell did that terrible b-movie trash warrant a mention? Such an amazing book, such an embarrassing film.

  • Anonymous

    Frak.  I missed the genre part too.  Definitely not Lord of the Rings.  The changes in the first movie from the book had me ready to walk out halfway through (only my ride not wanting to leave kept me there).  I’ll go with Princess Bride if it has to be genre…

  • Gavin

    The Shining.  Better than the book.

  • Spag Hoops

    I think the novel and screenplay were written in parallel, so the book’s as much a novelisation of the movie as the other way round.

  • Nataniel Costard

    I missed the “genre” thing too. Well… Lolita is kind of a horror book :)

  • T Dempsey

    Stephen King’s MISERY!  Kathy Bates nailed the character of Annie Wilkes perfectly, and even won an Oscar for it!

  • Carlos

    Fight Club or maybe Out of Sight and yes it is a genre book

  • Shane McCarthy


  • Dameyon Moore


  • Rick

    Silence of the Lambs for sure. I read the book after seeing the movie and had to give up like 60% of the way through, because it’s so spot on, I no longer saw a point in finishing.

  • CaseyJustice

    Die Hard!

    But from this list, Harry Potter. Simply a better, more fully realized world than LoTR.

  • Jonnyquest037

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

  • Jonnyquest037

    Whoops, me too.  Easy to miss.

  • Quinn Hopkins

    The Godfather. It’s better than the book.

  • Jonnyquest037

    OK, like some other, I missed the genre qualification.  So I’ll change my vote to Jaws.

  • Ed Irvin

    The Body/ Stand by Me

  • DC

    There is gone with the wind, the wizard of oz, the green mile,and forest gump. Now with forest gump the movie is completely different than the book because in the book he is actually a jerk. Oh and any Stephen King movie like the movie IT lol

  • Steven Ferrari

    The Princess Bride, hands down.

  • Will M.

    For movies that transcend source material that’s just pretty good and make something great, I think of those more as just “great movies” than adaptations. (The Shining comes to mind.) Not because bringing original ideas to the table and changing things around makes for a less successful adaptation; on the contrary, that can be what makes it successful. It’s just that movies like that seem to stand on their own more, outside of the context of being an adaptation. Most of the things that make The Shining a great movie are just the movie itself.

    For adaptations, the first thing that comes to mind has to be Lord of the Rings, because it took extremely highly regarded source material and made movies just as loved, because even if details were changed from the books it will probably always be thought of within the context of being an adaptation, and because it seems like it should have been impossible to make Lord of the Rings movies that good. Or at least extremely unlikely… to me it seems like the gold standard for spending a lot of money on something really ambitious and not messing up.

  • demoncat_4

    had to go with lord of the rings. mostly because Peter jackson stayed true to the source material and even gollum he made as nasty as in the book for  farenheit 451 one and blade runner werre good they both fell short mostly farenheit falls way short to the point Ray himself wants a remake

  • trevor

    Island of the Blue Dolphin

  • DanielT


  • Uncle-badtouch

    The Road. Great book, and my favourite movie.

  • Sigerson

    This is just FAR broader than any sane judgement could make. Half the great films ever made belong on this, from Ben-Hur to The Wizard of Oz through to The King’s Speech. Adding TV to this was just madness.

    Here are five noone’s even mentioned.

    Yojimbo, which is based on Hammett’s Red Harvest.
    All About Eve, based on a short story called The Wisdom of Eve, (and maybe my favorite movie ever.

    Every Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, classic horror film, mystery film and nearly every children’s film can go here. So.. Green For Danger’s my favorite filmed mystery, (though I’d throw The Long Goodbye, The Thin Man films and.. oh, the Hammer horror Hound of the Baskervilles as almost as wonderful.)

    Night and the City
    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

  • Isgard The Terrible

    A Clockwork Orange, clearly.

  • Isgard the Terrible

    Like many others, missed the genre thing. Though you could argue Clockwork Orange is sci-fi.

  • Finn

    Shawshank Redemption without a doubt.  Almost word for word.

  • TuftyW23

    Fight Club

  • Scavenger

    Princess Bride, most definite.

  • madmanmax

    FIGHT CLUB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bazell


  • Bret

    really surprised so many are saying Fight Club, especially over the likes of LOTR, Jaws, Shawshank. Fight Club is a good movie, but come on, it’s no classic.

  • Zen Strive

    No love for “Little Women” adaptation?

  • Zen Strive

    A Song of Ice and Fire series are not a fantasy novels
    it’s gore, pretentiously adult novel masqueraded as fantasy novels with minimal fantasy and maximal “Adultness”

    LOTR series are indeed, not nicely written and bore at a time, but it’s pure fantasy, Tom Bombadil, Witch-King, Elves, and all.

  • Atomic Kommie Comics

     From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming

  • Mike

    LOTR for me, hands down, especially now that i’m over the omission of Tom Bombadil (and sort of agree with it).

    300 anyone? Great genre novel to film adaptation.

  • Scottoman2

    Hard to put 2001 on there since the book and movie were produced at the same time by the same creative team.  The book came out of the screen play which went back into a screen play then the movie.

  • nik

    I feel no shame in saying that the film is actually BETTER than the novel.  And the novel is great.

  • Jmcreer

    Jaws the film bears little resemblance to Peter Benchley’s novel (which is excellent BTW) so I wouldn’t call it a good adaptation

  • Jmcreer

    Jurassic Park is a fun movie – but it’s an absolute disgrace how badly adapted the book was.  Fingers crossed HBO get a chance to do a good adaptation.

  • Jmcreer

    My thoughts exactly – unfortunately I was somewhat bored watching the film because there was little difference with the book, hence no surprises.

  • Jmcreer

    McMillan hasn’t specified which genre he’s talking about anyway so it doesn’t matter.  All he’s identified are best written prose to film adaptation.  As a result any type of written prose to film adaptation applies.

  • Alan Stanwyck


  • Cjorg2

    Genre is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria.  Graeme hasn’t specified any specific genre apart from prose to film, so anything goes.

  • Nataniel Costard

    Are you really talking about the amazing film by Trauffaut? Or is there another Fahrenheit adaptation I don`t know? Julie Christie, for grife`s sake!

  • Nataniel Costard

    Really? Like “The Third Man”! I didn`t know that, thanks! Anyway, Kubrick still managed to transform good to average books like The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut or the mentioned Barry Lyndon into incredible pieces of art, in my opinion.

  • Bilious

    That’s about as narrow-minded a view of “fantasy” as I’ve ever come across. Not that I don’t think Martin suffers from a good dose of having his head up his own arse, but it does not take  Elves to make fantasy. You could try looking up a definition of the genre, or even – given that it is a purely marketing distinction from other forms of fiction – go look at the shelves in a fucking bookshop. Twat.

  • Seth Frisbie-Fulton

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.   Glengarry Glen Ross.   Both are plays adapted to film that had strong involvment with their original writers.

  • Hugo Sleestak

    How do you take a novel from around 1912 and make a good film out of it? You film it in 1918 and you call it “Tarzan of the Apes,” starring Elmo Lincoln. I’ve always had a suspicion that Hal Foster used some stills from the film for the first comic adaptation in 1929. The movie is quite a bit more faithful than my second favorite Tarzan movie, “Greystoke.”

  • Chronomaxx

    The Outsiders.   Costumes are as described in the book.  Dialouge can be read from the book as the movie progresses.   Watch the COmplete Novel cut and it is almost perfect….

  • gaylordfocker

    Michael Chrichton’s Jurassic Park! He wrote his own script! It was a good movie.

  • stealthwise

    Of course!

  • Christopher Ware

    The Princess Bride

  • Brian from Canada

    The Joy Luck Club. It raises the economic level of the characters and adds a scene or two, but it’s accurate to the book in terms of where the characters are all in relation to each other.

    But — if you want to stick with “genre” — I’m surprised Graham didn’t nominate Star Wars, since it was published as a novel before the film.

    Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe edited one small scene’s lines but is otherwise quite accurate.

    And 300 should be there too. Granted, it was a copy of a film based on an ancient text, but it’s still pretty accurate to the graphic novel.

  • Jeff Pedigo

    Fight Club. Easily.

  • Ger

    L.A. Confidential.

  • Josh in OR

    Peter S Beagle’s THE LAST UNICORN is a PERFECT example of how to translate a book to the screen.  As a child, I grew up watching this move and remember being utterly enthralled by the visuals, the dialogue, the songs…and then, when I finally found a copy of the book, I was struck by just HOW faithfully it had been adapted to the screen. 

    Hands down, no other movie I’ve ever seen has been SO faithful to the source material. 

  • rawn gandy

    Fight Club is one of the rare movies where it is better than the book. While the book is good, the movie takes the ideas presented and organizes them better and presents a better ending.