Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Big Books - Big Films

When possible, I like to watch a film rendition after completing a classic, and I include a brief comment at the end of my book review. However, I’ve fallen behind a bit, and just recently got to film adaptations of four of my books from last year – three of which were of major tomes.

Atlas Shrugged:  Three film serial production:  Atlas Shrugged Part I (2011), Atlas Shrugged Part II (2012), and Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt (2014). Three films was probably a good idea, but entirely recasting each successive film was not. No exaggeration – 100% recast each film.  There were a few other minor problems, but it was pretty faithful. I don’t recommend it though. If you are a fan of Atlas Shrugged the novel, you should probably skip the films. If you are not a fan of the book, you should definitely skip the films.

War and Peace: 1956 starring Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda. I was pretty skeptical that a single film could do this justice, but this was a pretty decent adaptation and the 3 ½ hour length helped. It was a little light on War, both in how much of the film portrayed the war, as well as how it portrayed war. The war scenes should have been epic – cast of thousands – but it looked like they tried to cut costs with a cast of hundreds. But I’ll forgive it. It isn’t the most compelling part of the story, and the rest of the film adaptation was pretty faithful. It cut some parts down considerably, but the man themes – the lives of Pierre (Fonda) and Natasha (Hepburn) were pretty complete.

Great Expectations: 2012 starring Jeremy Irvine as Pip and Holliday Grainger as Estella is faithful to the book, well cast, well portrayed. I’m usually not a fan of film adaptations of Dickens, but this was quite good. Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch was especially good.

Tom Jones – I watched two versions: 1997 A&E / BBC 5 hour television mini-series was pretty good, but I expected to prefer the 1962 film with Albert Finney as Tom and Susannah York as Sophie.  It won the Academy Award for best picture after all and four other Oscars, and five more nominations including Best Actor for Finney. I am apparently no film critic, but I thought it was rather awful. As usual in my experience, BBC does a better job with Fielding, Austen, Dickens.

Have you seen any of these films? Can you recommend a better version?



  1. I remember Tom Jones with Albert Finney and Susannah York very fondly. I saw it a couple of times in my youth and rewatched it about 10 years ago, and still enjoyed it. I remember when I was in college in the 1970s, I had a history professor who did a showing of the film (this was before VHS, DVD, streaming, etc) because he felt it was an accurate depiction of 18th century rural English gentry. It is campy but I always thought the tongue-in-cheek approach worked for the story. I haven't seen the 5 part mini-series, and probably won't until I finally get around to rereading the book itself.

    1. Campy is a good way of putting it, and probably what I didn't like. I don't know, maybe I would have liked it better if I had not first watched the BBC version.


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