Below are my Top 10 YA movie adaptations. My rankings are not always by how faithful a movie is to its source material. It's whether they accurately capture the essence of the book and make an unforgettable impression as their own cinematic entities.
10. Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement. Though this movie had very little to do with its source material, I always love watching this movie (better than the first). And how can you not? It has Julie Andrews (who is my favorite elderly actress, quickly followed by Dame Maggie Smith), Anne Hathaway, and Chris Pine. Not only are all beautiful on screen, their acting chops make this slightly ridiculous and definitely kooky story remain in my heart (even though the film wasn't considered a success).
9. I love Bridge to Terabithia. It made me weep on the page and screen. Also, who can resist a young Josh Hutcherson? Not me. Some people were disappointed with this adaptation, feeling it glossed over some important book material, but I disagree and think it was very well done. Everyone should see this movie (after they've read the book, because I'm all for "book first, film later"), but bring tissues.
8. Okay, clearly I like Jim Carrey (he's a great actor when he's not Green—and apparently even then). This movie is actually an amalgam of the first three books in the Series of Unfortunate Events (in a really long series): The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window. I think they glossed over some stuff, but the movie makers did an excellent job of linking the three together in a cohesive, 2 hour movie. I was very disappointed when they never made a sequel. Now that the "girl" playing Violet is now too old, I doubt they will. Everyone should still see this movie, though.
7. Divergent. If you haven't read the book. Get off this blog (after you finish reading this post) and read books 1-3. I don't care what people say, you have to read all 3. In this very faithful adaptation (albeit changing the climactic scene and some other stuff), this movie kept the heart of Veronica Roth's book alive while the packaging changed. And since they did it well (in my opinion), I'm not going to begrudge them box office success. Sidenote: Theo James is the perfect Four, and he's British.
6. I expected this movie to give me horrible nightmares (I had a really bad track record with "scary" movies. I'm looking at you Jim Carrey (The Grinch). Anyway, my fears were unfounded. I loved this movie and slept like a baby afterwards. Very Alice-in-Wonderland-y,Coraline is a dark spin on wish fulfillment and the dangers of an alternate world. As much as I loved the book, the published drawings were much more frightening, and this is the one movie I'd be okay with people just skipping the book. It's faithful enough not to cheat them of the book, and not as scary as the illustrations.
5. The Book Thief. I found the movie better than the book. There, I said it. The book's narrator, Death (it's not a spoiler, I promise), is always interrupting the narrative flow and kind of whiny. The movie almost completely removes him except from the beginning and end. Sophie Nélisse is a perfect Liesel Meminger and I started crying halfway through the film. I think everyone should see this touching movie (and bring tissues while they're at it)
4. Everyone in my class thought I was too "innocent" to read The Lovely Bones. I had to remind them that I read Speak the summer before 5th Grade (a decision I regretted, but whatever). I loved this movie for it's poignant adaptation of Alice Sebold's novel, though there was one particular creative choice that did not sit well with me. When I first saw it, I thought they had ruined the plot, but I won't say what it was. Besides that, it was a very good film (though it didn't do well in the box office), and it was nice to see Stanley Tucci be mean for a change.
3. First, let me explain why I did not choose The Hunger Games: I got nauseous from the shaky, hand-held camera, and felt some other directional choices were ill-advised. But I loved the production design and casting, and obviously the books, so much that I still went to the theater to see Catching Fire. The second installment of the Hunger Games movie adaptations exceeded my expectations. Possibly the most faithful film adaptation I have ever seen. The reason this didn't rank as #1 is that even so, I feel certain integral foreshadowing details were cut from the script.
2. My best friends and I love this movie. Another example where the film was more cohesive than the book, Perks of Being a Wallflower, tells the story of a teenage boy who doesn't quite fit in—something we can all relate to in some way. What makes this movie awesome is that the actors breathe life into their characters in an amazing way. And it's Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, people. It can't get much better than that.
1. I bet you thought I forgot about Harry Potter. You would be mistaken, however. How could I forget the book series and movie franchise that defined a generation? My friends are divided into 4 groups on this book-to-film adaptation: some who only watched the movies (I still insist they read the books, but whatever), some who refuse to see the films, those who know both but hate what was lost between page to screen, and a few who like both within their own entities. I'm with the last group. I honestly think the Harry Potter films are among the best book-to-film adaptions—not because of their 100% adherence to the source material, but because they stay true to the heart of JK Rowling's famous series.
And there you have it! Did I get to any of your favorites? If not, feel free to comment below.
For those of you who don't yet know, I am now one of the "Fab Four" bloggers on my boss Melissa A. Petreshock's blog. This is my introductory post over on her Dragon Blog. Read it below, or on her site. If you want to be featured on her blog, click here.
What are your favorite parts of "regular" teen life?
1. As cheesy as it sounds, knowing that this is the beginning of the rest of my life (especially with college applications fast approaching).
2. Being halfway between childhood and adulthood is particularly great because while I am gaining more responsibility, I don't yet have to deal with taxes and other annoying adult concerns.
3. Hanging out with my friends is always the highlight of my day: whether it is to study for school or to watch a movie, we always have a good time—and amidst all the stress of being high school Juniors, any relaxation is welcome.
Your least favorite?
1. The amount of work I receive. While I do have the need to always be busy and doing something productive, I do wish I had more down time to write my own novels, do my job as Melissa's assistant, or to just relax.
2. The stress that accompanies all the work. Deadlines make some people productive, but for me, they make me more anxious than anything else.
3. Not being fully independent. I know I'm being self-contradictory, but as a teen, I still want more freedom than I have now.
What are your favorite YA novels?
1. The Giver by Lois Lowry. I read this book a long time ago on the recommendation of my older cousins. It was the first book I remember reading as a young child. The hard facts and choices represented in the novel shaped my world, and continue to influence other books (e.g. the Choosing Ceremony in Divergent by Veronica Roth). Greer can tell you more about that during one of her #ClassicLitLove posts. Anyway, this is my #1 favorite YA novel. Read it, and you'll love it too.
2. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (Northern Lights if you're British). Another one of my cousins's recommendations, this philosophical novel also has a very special place in my heart. It's fantastical take on childhood spirit imbued me with a love for creativity and curiosity that I hope stay with me for the rest of my life. The rest of the His Dark Material Trilogy is also great, but this was my favorite.
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (buy the whole series if you haven't already). This was by far my favorite literary introduction on behalf of my cousins. The idea that we have magic powers that can be used for either good or evil, at our own discretion, to change the world has been one of the most powerful lessons that I still carry with me today.
What do you wish was portrayed more/less in YA fiction?
1. "Normal" female characters. I do love the precedents set by Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger, and Tris Prior, etc, but while all of them are relatable, they all possess a "bigger than life" quality. Shailene Woodley has said in many Divergent movie interviews that she liked her character (Tris) because she's a normal girl faced with huge challenges. I disagree, but that is just my opinion. I am not saying get rid of these fierce role models, just add a few more truly awkward characters into the mix (like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell).
2. Less emphasis on romance. Don't get me wrong, I love romance, but when it comes to books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, people are dying, we don't need to zoom in on the romance. I believe the latter kept things in better perspective (I mean 1701 children died in previous Hunger Games before the first book takes place, and we focus on the love triangle). **annoyed rant over**
3. A bigger role of family. I know, I know. Half the adventures couldn't take place if there were hovering parents, but to never mention them creates a bizarre expectation that parents are obstacles to all fun. And that's definitely not true (my mom is one of my best friends and we have great times together). The Prior family (Divergent), and its precedent in The Giver are shown before the main character separates from them (in one way or another), and I would like to see that in more YA books.
How do you juggle school work with your writing career?
1. To Do lists and prioritization. Homework first, and hopefully I have enough time to write. The weekend it's reversed. It's not a perfect system, but I have yet to let the ball drop on either. And you know what they say: "If it's not broke, don't fix it."
2. If I'm ever feeling particularly stuck (writing or homework), I switch for an hour. It resets my brain to be more productive, and it works like a charm in getting everything I need done.
3. Whenever it feels like too much, I take a break to eat a snack and listen to music. This may sound like wasting time, but getting into the right mindset is so much more conducive to productivity than puttering around for hours on end. Once I'm back to "normal," I use the aforementioned tactics.
How do your teen struggles influence your novels?
1. My existential crisis (yes I had one when I transferred to my new high school) has helped me create a lot of internal character conflicts concerning their places in this world.
2. As an addendum, being a teen means my emotions are much more volatile than any of my older relatives' (bad when I'm trying to stay calm, good when I'm writing novels).
3. Similar to Melissa (who writes strong female characters so her daughters have good role models), I use my life lessons to create admirable characters for future audiences. My characters go through similar struggles I do (obviously tweaked and heightened, but the emotion is the same).
Today I am going to New Orleans on a week-long Habitat For Humanity trip, and will be MIA until late afternoon on Sunday. I am really excited to be going on such an amazing mission, and will also turn 17 while I'm there (March 20). To celebrate, I am doing a 99¢ sale for my book (the prices may not be updated until later since I forgot to change them yesterday).
I'll see you when I'm 17!!!
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s avant-garde fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, has captivated audiences since the character’s debut in 1887 with the publication of "A Study in Scarlet." Skilled in deductive reasoning and forensics, this consulting detective revolutionized the mystery genre. In the most recent edition of Writer’s Digest, an article states that new stories “that hearken back to the Golden Age of detective fiction” are continually emerging in the modern mystery fiction market. Doyle’s influence has transcended the literary medium and has inspired many dramatic adaptations (both stage and screen), stretching all the way back to the late 1800’s during Doyle’s writing career. Some of the most famous include the early-1900’s play Sherlock Holmes—A Drama in Four Acts written by and starring William Gillette; the famous 1939 movie featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce; the two Robert Downey Jr. films Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows; BBC’s Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch; and CBS’ Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller. The three most-recent Sherlocks, all of whom are friends, will soon be joined by Sir Ian McKellan in portraying the famed detective when the movie adaptation of the 2006 Sherlock-inspired novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, hits theaters. The official release date, not yet set, is estimated to be sometime in 2014.
In addition to the myriad responses of the global fanbase, Sherlock Holmes has also recently been in the news on the legal front. In February 2013, editor and scholar Leslie S. Klinger sued the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate. He refuted its claim that a license was needed in order to publish his upcoming book, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes; he had previously worked on at least four similar works. Klinger argued that the stories were in the public domain and accused the Estate of “Copyfraud,” when false copyright notices are included in documents to garner illegal fees. The issue blew up on twitter using the hashtag #FreeSherlock, and Klinger created a blog, “free-sherlock.com,” to chronicle the legal proceedings. Eventually, the scholar won the case when Chief Judge Rubén Castillo ruled that “Klinger and the public may use the Pre-1923 Story Elements without seeking a license.” All the Holmes stories will enter the public domain in 2022. On January 12, 2014, in association with the BBC, PBS Masterpiece aired an hour-long special about the timeless appeal of Doyle’s iconic detective. The feature includes interviews with BBC’s Sherlock stars, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman; the show’s creators, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss; and other experts. The special delves into the many inspirations for the popular twenty-first century Sherlock adaptation. Unlike most previous incarnations of the detective, the plot of BBC’s Sherlock derives much of its material straight from the Doyle stories such as “A Study in Scarlet,” “A Scandal in Bohemia,” and “The Final Problem”—the last of which has been dubbed “The Reichenbach Fall” for its final scene where Sherlock and Moriarty apparently fall to their deaths.
As Benedict Cumberbatch states, Moffat and Gatiss approach this show with a “fanboy reverence” unique to the British TV production. The entire documentary as well as other mini behind-the-scenes episodes are available on iTunes. Understanding the story behind the script is not the only knowledge Holmes fans are after. In this demanding and fast-paced world where distractions abound and impact one’s ability to focus and retain information, people also want to be able to think like him. Maria Konnikova’s book Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes addresses this demand by delineating the differences between the regular and non-observant “Watson” brain and the aspirational “Sherlock” brain. She offers many tools and exercises to maximize the brain’s capacity for critical thinking and deductive reasoning. Spanning countries, generations, and gender, Sherlock Holmes appeals to almost everyone, and has for centuries. If you haven’t already joined the fandom (“Sherlockians”), it’s not too late. The books are available in any bookstore (physical or virtual), and the TV shows Sherlock and Elementary, as well as the recent films Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows are all available on iTunes.
Three months after the release of the touching movie adaptation of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (November 8, 2013), Hollywood is revisiting World War II with The Monuments Men. George Clooney co-wrote, directed, and starred in the film, which is based on the book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter. As the Allied Powers closed in on Nazi Germany, seven men, led by Frank Stokes (Clooney), volunteer to become part of a special unit tasked with saving stolen artwork, monuments, and artifacts from Nazi possession and destruction. Each member was a renowned art expert. George L. Stout, the real-life counterpart of George Clooney’s character, worked in the art conservation department of the Harvard Fogg Art Museum. He became director of the museum in 1933, and held the position for fourteen years. Matt Damon’s character, based on James Rorimer, was a museum curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was instrumental in the creation of the Cloisters. Some of the other men were art historians, or artists themselves.
Some critics have emphasized the historical inaccuracies and attacked the theatrical humor inserted for dramatic purposes. One of the most glaring differences between historical fact and the movie’s depictions is the number of men on the team. In a special featurette and interview on the Internet Movie Database, it is stated that most of the film’s seven main characters are really composites of the 350 members (men and women from thirteen nations) of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section (MFAA aka “the Monuments Men”). The very founding of the group was also altered for the film, giving Clooney’s character a more direct role in influencing President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s decision to create the MFAA. However, the Monuments Men book does state that the group was Stout’s “brain child.”
While the film may not be a completely accurate or thorough textbook representation of the historical events, press for the movie has brought attention to past and present art repatriation debates, including those surrounding Greece’s “Elgin Marbles” (taken from the Parthenon in the nineteenth century) and Egypt’s famed Rosetta Stone. Both the “Elgin Marbles” and the Rosetta Stone are currently housed in the British Museum in London. Clooney and his co-stars, Bill Murray and Matt Damon, all support Greece’s claim that England should return the marble statues, but the British Prime Minister David Cameron said he does not “believe in ‘returnism,’ as it were. I don’t think that’s sensible.”
Other British arguments against repatriation range from declaring the act useless to not wanting to set a precedent that could empty their historical collections. Is this situation any different from Hitler’s plan to display stolen artwork in his private museum? Where do we draw the line? Both the film’s message and repatriation in general emphasize the importance of preserving different cultures. As Clooney’s character states: “You can wipe out a generation of people. You can burn their homes to the ground, and somehow they'll still come back. But if you destroy their achievements, and their history, then it's like they never existed.” The Monuments Men risked their lives to protect Europe’s artistic achievements. Thanks to the MFAA, thousands if not millions of artworks were saved from destruction and returned to their rightful owners. While the movie effectively conveys an emotionally compelling story, it is less successful in creating a completely factual representation of history’s true events.
What did you think of the movie? And what's your opinion of repatriation?
I'm a self-published author (because being a college student wasn't hard enough!) and spend most of my time doing homework. I write YA multi-genre fiction for young adults or the young at heart. I love NCIS, BBC's Sherlock,
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