Louisa May Alcott's timeless novel has been adapted for the big screen numerous times, yet that has not lessened its continuing appeal, as demonstrated by the newest version. In honor of that, join us in exploring the most memorable and important book to screen movie adaptations!
HARRY POTTER SERIES
"You're a wizard, Harry Potter." Words with greater wonder were never spoken. The adaptations of J.K. Rowling's YA series defined a generation and inspired audiences to open their hearts & minds. These were great movies, but the real charm was that audiences watched 95% of the Harry Potter franchise's cast grow up over a full decade.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
What hasn't been said about 'To Kill a Mockingbird'? We saw the South through the innocent eyes of Scout as her father, Atticus Finch provided legal defense for an innocent black man in a kangaroo court of Jim Crow Alabama. Scout and her father provided a heartfelt example of morality by which we should all strive to live, and nobody embodied that better than Gregory Peck.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' was so epic that it was considered unfilmable. Peter Jackson's adaptation, however, was so brilliant that Elijah Wood's Frodo, Ian McKellen's Gandalf, and Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn are THE definitive versions of the characters. Jackson's original trilogy is an achievement that can never be replicated, but his Hobbit trilogy sure tried!
"Welcome to Jurassic Park." No one could've prepared for Spielberg's instant classic that enraptured, thrilled and horrified with one superlative character, effect, and setpiece after another. 'Jurassic Park' advocated responsibility in science, capitalism, parenting and the arts. Moreover, the franchise is so definitive that it has no real competitors for movie dinosaurs!
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Lewis Caroll's 'Alice in Wonderland' is a view on adulthood through the lens of a child, and it's no wonder that things look a little mad! Disney's 1951 animated classic is still our favorite adaptation, capturing the fun, mind-bending qualities of the book, but Tim Burton's 2010 movie featuring Alice's return to a post-apocalyptic Wonderland is truly something to behold!
What scares you? For many, the answer is Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown. Tommy Lee Wallace's TV series faithfully adapted 'It,' Stephen King's generation-spanning novel, scaring the hell out of '90s kids. Twenty-seven years later, Andy Muschietti's remake with Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise scared the hell out of those now-adults and a whole new generation.
Team Edward or Team Jacob? Stephanie Meyer's 'Twilight' series brought romance to vampires & werewolves and love triangles to young adult audiences. The movies presented the small-town melodrama with a presumed straight female gaze – shocking for blockbuster audiences of the time - which allowed audiences to emphathize with Kristen Stewart's Bella. Team Edward, BTW.
"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Robert Zemeckis' 'Forrest Gump' is an unparalleled classic. A snapshot of the Baby Boomer generation, it addressed everything from the Civil Rights Act, Vietnam and the AIDS crisis all through Tom Hanks' titular character, whose worldview was one of simplicity, kindness, and equality.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW
James Ivory's 'A Room with a View' is the high watermark of British costume dramas for a few reasons. 1. It's got Helena Bonham Carter, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Daniel Day-Lewis all in the same place. 2. It was a subtle critique of Edwardian society and conventions of traditional courtship. 3. Finally, it encouraged us to rationalize how we feel, and to love how we love.
THE HUNGER GAMES
Katniss Everdeen was a simple archer until she competed in the Hunger Games. She inspired her dystopian society into rising against their fascist leaders, and Jennifer Lawrence's turn as Katniss was just as meteoric for her career. She appeared to be, in many ways, the same kind of hometown woman with the fighting spirit Katniss embodied and that this world needed.
JAMES BOND SERIES
When you think spies, you think James Bond. You think gorgeous cars, slick gadgets, beautiful women, globe-trotting, plans of world domination and pulse-pounding action. James Bond is a British institution, a series that's lived long enough to embody imperialism and colonialism only to become a criticism of those values. Who's the best Bond? There's only one right answer…
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
The final installment in Guadagnino's Desire trilogy and a modern romance by James Ivory, 'Call Me By Your Name' is a celebration of love and identity. Featuring standout performances by Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet, the movie is a powerful yet understated romance, and may just be the 'Brokeback Mountain' of the '10s.
GONE WITH THE WIND
'Gone with the Wind' was Hollywood's first true epic, exploring the Civil War, class and the changing face of America, all connected by the romance between Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara and Clark Gable's Rhett Butler. Just Scarlett was a model of perseverance, and so too was the production, which was a masterclass in Technicolor and flouted the Hays Code for its famous line.
THE WIZARD OF OZ
Judy Garland's Dorothy's song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is just as powerful today as it was in 1939. Her impassioned plea for freedom and wonder may be what transported her to Oz, a marvel of set design captured in brilliant Technicolor. There, Dorothy's adventures with Scarecrow, Tin-Man and the Cowardly Lion taught her responsibility, and to love her home.
THE GODFATHER SERIES
Mario Puzo's 'Godfather' novels were gangster potboilers until Francis Coppola reimagined them as a regal family drama. 'The Godfather' films explored Michael Corleone's descent into organized crime while also celebrating Italian culture and addressing the struggles of Italian immigrants. Moreover, these were career-defining roles for Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Marlon Brando.
"A game for those who seek to find/a way to leave their world behind." 'Jumanji,' 'Zathura' and 'Jumanji (2017)' were funny adventures with a ton of heart. The original 'Jumanji' taught us the importance of responsibility and honesty. 'Zathura' taught us the depth of brotherly love. 'Jumanji (2017)' taught us how to break out of our shells – all while running from stampedes!
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
In their definitive performances, Morgan Freeman's Red and Tim Robbins' Andy survived decades in Shawshank Prison. Red was a cynic, but Andy was an outsider with heart, creativity and a determination to see that every person, free or captive, had the same basic human dignities as anyone else. Your body can't be free unless your soul is. Rita Hayworth always helps.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE
William Goldman's 'Princess Bride' transported us to our youth, to rainy days stuck in bed, when the world was simple and could be boiled down to good vs. evil; where kidnapped princesses could be rescued by dashing rogues and where sidekicks could aspire to heroism. A more charming adventure is inconceivable!
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS
Most recall "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold" from Johnny Depp's Raoul Duke's gonzo journalism tale, but the drug-fueled comedy is a veiled tragedy. Duke's hallucinogenic revelry of capitalism snaps to a wide-eyed hangover, realizing that the biggest battles were lost and that America had fallen from its zenith.
WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Roald Dahl's children's novel is surpassed only by its film adaptation with Gene Wilder giving the performance of a lifetime as the jaded Willy Wonka. Willy's journey with Charlie and the other children into the factory is one of wonder, merriment and life lessons, proving that you never have to grow up if your heart is always in the right place.
The romantic comedy adaptation of Kevin Kwan's novel, 'Crazy Rich Asians' is a landmark in Asian representation. It has proved to be popular with audiences worldwide, reminding everyone that what makes a film "click" with moviegoers usually has nothing to do with the race or origin of the characters.