Now, I know what you might be thinking, this is a book blog right? So, why should we even be talking about, let alone encouraging watching movies? Well, the truth is, I happen to be a bit of a movie connoisseur. Not only is my apartment overflowing with books, but my DVD collection is giving my books a run for their money as they compete for what precious space I have. What draws me to both books and movies is that I simply love stories of all kinds, and what is a movie, if not a story? As some of you may be aware, tonight is the 85th Annual Academy Awards, which happens to be a pretty big deal at my house. So, today, I wanted to take the time to blend my love of books and movies and share with you some of my favorite movie adaptations of great books.
1. Matilda– this 1996 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic was directed by Danny Devito and stars Mara Wilson as the title character. Matilda is rated PG and does an admirable job of entertaining the whole family with its subtle (and at times dark) humor and its childlike wonder and appreciation for the written word.
2. Charlotte’s Web – Now I realize there is a newer movie version, but the 1973 cartoon starring Debbie Reynold’s voice as Charlotte will always be my favorite adaptation of E.B. White’s tale of a very special friendship. I love the title song (in fact, I played it for a piano recital piece), and well, I grew up with this version–so maybe I’m a tad biased.
3. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Winnie the Pooh – Both of the 1977 and the 2011 films are delightful. And I’m willing to bet, that when most of us think of A.A. Milne’s characters, we picture the Disney cartoons. Both of these movies are charming and gentle enough for a young viewer, but I think most adults get a kick out of them too. I know I sure do! One could certainly do worse than make a visit to the Hundred Acre Wood.
4. Peter Pan – This 2003 live-action adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s story is full of enough whimsy and derring-do to inspire anyone’s imagination…even a grown-up’s. This Peter Pan is rated PG and is one of only two live-action adaptations to feature an actual boy in the role of Peter. While I do enjoy the Disney version of Peter Pan, this film doesn’t shy away from the inherent bitter-sweetness of Barrie’s original, and it is the better for it.
5. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott’s classic has been adapted for the screen many times, once even starring the brilliant Katharine Hepburn, but it is the 1994 version starring Winona Ryder as Jo March that is nearest and dearest to my heart. This is truly a wonderful movie in every way, and with a PG rating, it is family entertainment at its finest. P.S.–if you want a boy to watch it who might be scared away by the title, just tell him that Christian Bale is in it–you know, Batman. And what’s good enough for Batman, should be good enough for all of us.
While I encourage you to check out all of these wonderful films, please don’t hesitate to check out their literary inspirations too. And while it is seldom that the movie version holds up to the book, I assure you that all of these films can make that claim. So, tonight, whether you watch the Oscars or not, take some time to celebrate the art of great storytelling.