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Book adaptations dominate screen

Published: Sunday, January 13, 2013

Updated: Sunday, January 13, 2013 22:01



Bilbo Baggins sets out on his journey in J.R.R. Tollkien's book adaptation.

Turning books into movies is a trend well known to filmgoers. The end of 2012 saw several films go from bookshelves to movie theatres in what seemed like a literary craze, sparking interest and competition with what adaptation was the best.

First out in the box office was “Life of Pi,” based on the young adult novel by Yann Martel. Directed by Ang Lee, the film follows the adventures of Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel after he survives a shipwreck that kills the other passengers, including the boy’s family. Widely described as a masterpiece by critics and moviegoers, Lee makes careful use of 3D and digital visuals, creating a spectacular immersion effect.

“It was gorgeous,” Emily Moore, junior math major, said. “Especially the way they did the animals. It was really different.”

The film was a critical and box office success, garnering rave reviews, eleven Academy Award nominations, and three Golden Globe nominations, as well as over $300 million in box office earnings.

Next on the list was Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first in a trilogy adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy classic “The Hobbit.” This return to Middle Earth follows hobbit, Bilbo Baggins as he strives to help a group of misfit dwarves reclaim their fortress from the dragon, Smaug.

The film earned a record-breaking $84 million on its opening weekend. To date, the film has earned more than $830 million and three Academy Award nominations, for Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Production Design. Some reviewers questioned its pacing and its visual representation, but others believed the film representation was well done.

“It never felt like any time was wasted the way I was worried it would,” Jenna Guinn, sophomore education major, said. “It covered just enough. I would’ve hated for it to be any shorter.”

Another popular adaption this holiday season was “Les Misérables.” Written by Victor Hugo in 1862, the novel was critically hated and publically lauded. In 1836 the author’s son, Charles Victor Hugo, wrote the first theatrical adaptation.

In the latest film adaptation, starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, a fleeing convict, and Russell Crowe as a persistent police inspector, the movie presents a story of hope and loss in a time wrought with revolution. With a stunning set and popular cast, many students seemed to love this inspiring film.

“The cinematography was flawless and the story was gripping,” Callie Strickland, sophomore education major, said. “I would like to see some awards there.”

“Les Misérables” was nominated for nine BAFTA awards, eight Academy Awards including Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress for Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway and four Golden Globes, including Best Film.

Adapting literature to film is a long-standing tradition, as is taking them to anywhere from animation to sung-through musicals. From the early 20th century to present day, it’s a successful habit that people are sure to see for a long time to come.


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