12 book-to-film adaptations

Classic novels that made it to the silver screen

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby

It’s said that any great work of art should inspire you to go out and absorb more art. We’re not sure that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is on the same lines as Picasso or Da Vinci, but, coming from the producers of Juno, we’re sure it will be steeped in sweet-centred, offbeat oddness, plenty of indie guitars and self-conscious cultural referencing.

The tale of a nerdy kid left to make sense of a friend’s suicide, the film is an adaption of Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 novel of the same name that picked up a wave of controversy a decade later, named the American Library Association’s third most-challenged book of 2009. It’s made up of letters sent from Charlie (Logan Lerman) to an anonymous recipient, which work through the list of books assigned by his teacher, Bill – each of them modern classics that should grace any shelf.

Eagerly awaiting the film’s release on Thursday September 20, Time Out went back to school and looked at how each of these novels has been brought to the silver screen to create you an admirable reading and viewing to-do list.

To Kill a Mockingbird
Based on the racism that she observed growing up in her home town, Harper Lee’s 1960 classic has been taught in classrooms around the world to promote tolerance and equality.
On screen: The 1962 adaptation, starring Gregory Peck, won three Oscars, including Best Actor.

This Side of Paradise
F Scott Fitzgerald’s much-praised first novel, published in 1920, chronicles the coming-of-age confusion felt by America’s moneyed youth in the aftermath of WW1. One critic, from the Chicago Tribune, called it ‘genius’.
On screen: The rumoured Miramax production starring Matt Damon never got off the ground.

A Separate Peace
John Knowles’s first and best-known story, from 1959, focuses on the protagonist’s return to his school 15 years after graduating, inspiring a literary recollection of his formative relationships.
On screen: A well-received 1972 adaptation starring Parker Stevenson and Fred Segal.

Peter Pan

The famous flying boy who never grew up was created by JM Barrie in 1902, and immortalised in the novel nine years later.
On screen: Peter Pan first saw the screen in a 1924 silent film, before Walt Disney’s 1953 classic, which has inspired a sequel and a number of other screen works. Of particular note is Steven Spielberg’s 1991 family flick Hook, starring Robin Williams.

The Catcher in the Rye
JD Salinger’s 1951 classic novel of angst, alienation and rebellion is one of the best-selling novels ever, shifting 65 million copies.
On screen: Salinger blocked any adaptation of the novel after one of his earlier short stories was made into a lacklustre film. Actors including Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio, and directors including Billy Wilder and Terrence Malick, have tried to challenge it, but there’s still no official adaptation.

On the Road

Jack Kerouac’s 1957 stream-of-consciousness ode to escapist adventure, jazz and Beat culture changed the youth generation in America forever.
On screen: After 55 years we’ll finally see On the Road on the big screen later this year. Directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries), it stars Sam Riley, who’s best known for playing Ian Curtis in Joy Division biopic Control.

Naked Lunch
William S Burroughs’ 1959 cut-and-paste word collage details his horrific and surreal experiences in The Interzone, based on his time in Tangiers, Morocco.
On screen: David Cronenberg’s loose 1991 adaptation received mixed reviews.

Published in 1854, Walden details noted transcendalist Henry David Thoreau’s two years in a self-built cabin in the American countryside.
On screen: None known.

The Great Gatsby
F Scott Fitzgerald’s best-known novel, from 1924, chronicles the decadence of America in the swinging ‘Jazz Age’ through a visit to a party at the eponymous Gatsby’s mansion.
On screen: There have been four feature-length adaptations to date, starting with a 1926 silent film. Baz Luhrmann’s 3D epic with Leonardo DiCaprio is set for release next year.

William Shakespeare’s longest play and best-known tragedy.
On screen: More adaptations than we can count. Notable: Laurence Olivier’s 1948 Oscar winner. Forgettable: Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 version – with Mel Gibson in the title role.

The Stranger
Albert Camus’s existential classic, about an Algerian who inexplicably kills a French man.
On screen: Italian director Luchino Visconti’s 1967 movie, Lo Straniero.

The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand’s epic 1943 tale of a non-conforming architect was an ode to the power of the individual, as preached in her philosophy of objectivism.
On screen: Rand wrote the screenplay for an acclaimed 1949 adaptation, starring Gary Cooper.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is in UAE cinemas from September 20.

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