‘On The Road’ And Ten Classic Books Made Into Films

2012 will see many films on the silver screen that began life on the printed page. So far, we’ve had ‘The Lucky One”, “The Hunger Games”, and “Think Like a Man”, and later this year, we’ll get “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and “Breaking Dawn 2″.

None of these films, however, can actually claim it’s based on a timeless work of literature- not the way Walter Salles’ “On The Road” can. The film is, of course, based on the classic Kerouac novel, and it stars Sam Riley (“Control”) as Kerouac’s alter ego Sal Paradise and Garret Hedlund (“Tron: Legacy”) as his BFF, Dean Moriarty. And despite the filmmakers best intentions, there are certain to be a few persnickety students of literature who will complain that the film has left out their favorite part. But, as often happens when converting books to movies, many of the subtleties and nuances that make the original so timeless simply don’t translate well to film, and the big ones, such as On the Road, are tough to tackle.

So it’ll be interesting to see what kind of reception “On the Road” receives when it premiers at the Cannes Film Festival later this month. Until then, let’s take a look at 10 more films based on classic works of literature and see how they made the grade.

1. Oliver Twist (1948)
Based on the book by Charles Dickens

David Lean’s second film adaptation of the Dickens classic is generally faithful to original story. However, subplots like the story of Rose Maylie are omitted. And the film misses out such literary gems as,“Dignity, and even holiness too, sometimes, are more questions of coat and waistcoat than some people imagine.”

2. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
Based on the book Charlie And The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was disappointed with the film, believing it placed too much emphasis on Willy Wonka and not enough on Charlie, and he was reportedly “infuriated” with changes made to the plot by screenwriter David Seltzer- such as converting Slugworth into a spy and belching in the “Fizzy Lifting” room. As a result, Dahl refused to allow a film adaptation of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

3. Out Of Africa (1985)
Based on the book by Isak Dinesen

The Syndey Pollack film differs significantly from the book, leaving out the devastating locust swarm, some local shootings, and Karen’s musings about the German army. The film downplays the size of her considerable 4,000 acres farm and 800 Kikuyu , while it up-plays her romance with Denny (how could it not?). On a side note, Catcher in the Rye‘s Holden Caulfield recommends the book.

4. To Kill A Mocking Bird
Based on the book by Harper Lee

The film focuses mostly on the Tom Robinson trial , because the novel examines how the events affect young Scout’s childhood. Smaller details, such as a the “romance” between Dill and Scout, were omitted along pretty, pro-literary lines like: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

5. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Based on the book by Anthony Burgess

The Kubrick film is relatively faithful to the novel but omits the final chapter where Alex repents of his evil ways. The film ends with the implication that Alex is still a sociopath at heart, while the novel signs off with an affirmative charge in his character. This difference in plot is due to the fact that Kubrick based his screenplay upon the American edition of the novel, which had deleted the book’s last chapter.

Read the entire article and find out what other films made the list.

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