The other day I started thinking about some of my favourite movie and book tandems. These are not necessarily the greatest movies ever made, however they have left a lasting impression on me over time. I will look forward to any comments, rebukes, or thumbs up to my list. The list is in no particular order.
1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz both in book form and the movie continues to amaze me. The book was spellbinding as a child, and although I was in my mid-teens when I first saw the movie, its impact has been lasting. When Judy Garland opens that door into the technicolor land of Oz, it really is breathtaking on the big screen.
2.Jurassic Park, despite some obvious dialogue shortcomings and over acting by a few people, does justice to Michael Crichton’s novel. There are several Crichton books that I have enjoyed over the years and this one was certainly one of them. His books always move at breakneck speed. The movie scene, as the main characters encounter the brachiosaurus, remains spellbinding for me and one of my favourite scenes in a mainstream movie.
3. The English Patient is one of my alltime favourite Ondaatje novels – his talents are immense. This novel is complex and so rich that I’ve read it three times to date. The movie, while not as good as the book, is wonderful with some brilliant acting by Ralph Fiennes and Kristen Scott-Thomas.
4. Doctor Zhivago continues to rank as one of the most sweeping and epic films of the twentieth century. David Lean’s skills are amazing and Omar Sharif and Julie Christie deliver performances not often seen in a Hollywood film: raw and haunting. Pasternak’s book is nuanced and a great entry point for a view of everyday life focusing on the Russian Revolution.
5. The Grapes of Wrath is a book I read every few years and almost always find a handful of new gems that I had missed previously. Steinbeck wrote with such penetrating skill that oftentimes a reader can forget that they’re reading and not actually in the novel. The movie is exceptional as well, capturing the devastating effects of depression in a capitalist system on working people. Henry Fonda delivers one of his best performances in the movie version.