Some of the world’s best-loved movies began as books – The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, and Forrest Gump are a few prime examples. Then there are those incredible books that you just know would make great movies. Each of the books presented here have unique and interesting characters, and a captivating storyline that jumps off the page begging for a trip to the silver screen. I’d advise anyone to check out these books today, they may just be among tomorrow’s great movies.
The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice
Since first discovering The Witching Hour in my early teens, I’ve been dying to see this on the big screen. This book was written by Anne Rice, most commonly known for her modern vampire tale Interview With the Vampire and the series of books that followed. The Witching Hour is also part of a series, as the first part of a trilogy about the “Mayfair Witches”. The Mayfair family are a large New Orleans clan bearing a dark legacy. The family have their own personal spirit of sorts, known as Lasher, handed down through the centuries to the family’s heir – always a female, known as the “witch” of her generation. This book provides a lush history of the Mayfair family and its supernatural happenings, juxtaposed against present-day San Francisco and New Orleans.
Rowan Mayfair, a brilliant San Francisco neurosurgeon, is unknowingly about to become the next Mayfair Witch. Adopted at birth by distant cousins and taken thousands of miles from the madness of her mother and the sagging old Garden District mansion that had been home to so many family tragedies. She saves a drowning man from the San Francisco Bay, who comes back from the brink of death with a mysterious supernatural power in his hands. It’s difficult to say much more without giving spoilers to potential readers, but this is truly a story that shouldn’t be missed.
If The Witching Hour were ever adapted for film, it would have to be by someone who could translate the depth of both the character-based story and the creepy elements. David Lynch would be my fantasy choice for a director. I think someone like Laura Linney (Love Actually, The Mothman Prophecies) would make a great Rowan Mayfair, and Michael Curry could easily be portrayed by Kevin McKidd (Rome, Grey’s Anatomy). I can’t think of any actors who would translate as a good Lasher, perhaps making it an ideal breakout role for some unknown actor.
Survivor, by Chuck Palahniuk
Survivor is, admittedly, a bizarre book. This eccentricity is what leads me to believe it would make a great movie, rife with social commentary and cheeky etiquette references and Heloise-style cleaning tips. The book opens on Tender Branson, the lone surviving member of the so-called Creedish Death Cult, recording his story into the black box of a plane he’s hijacked and intends to crash into the Pacific Ocean. Tender is the last of an army of Creedish butlers, maids and gardeners, sent out by their church into a life of servitude and left behind when the Creedish opted for mass suicide a decade earlier. Despite the help of social workers, all the other Creedish survivors kill themselves off as they’d been programmed to do until only Tender is left. His status as the last surviving member incites media coverage, and handlers catapult him into the public eye as a televangelist and spiritual leader.
True to Chuck Palahniuk’s style, Survivor is an edgy and sardonic book with some surprising plot twists. In related trivia, this is the book from which alternative pornography website “Suicide Girls” derived its name and also boasts a “secret ending” visible to the reader by re-reading the book or reading it backwards.
I’d love to see a film adaptation of Survivor directed by someone with an edge. David Fincher handled Palahniuk’s debut novel Fight Club beautifully, but Survivor doesn’t have the same level of grit synonymous with Fincher’s filmmaking. I think Paul Thomas Anderson, director of Magnolia and There Will Be Blood, would do a brilliant job bringing this story to life. I feel Tender Branson would be best cast as someone like Matthew Gray Gubler, of Criminal Minds fame – someone who appears somewhat generic at first glance, but has just enough of that creepy off-putting look about him.
The Wheel of Time series, by Robert Jordan
The Wheel of Time series (or WoT) is a collection of best-selling fantasy novels conceived by Robert Jordan and currently continued by Brandon Sanderson, following Jordan’s 2007 death. These novels center on a world in which magic is abundant, but strained – suitable only for the hands of special women known as the Aes Sedai and forbidden for men, due to a world-breaking set of events thousands of years before the books begin. The world is set in fear of a prophecy in which another man will cause cataclysmic events by using magic, bringing the dark lord Shaitan back to the world. As such, any men caught wielding magic or believed to have magical prowess are collected and dealt with by the Aes Sedai.
Parallels can be drawn between these books and many enduring stories – even the grandaddy of all fantasy books, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s impossible to capture the essence of the Wheel of Time series in so brief a space – these books are renowned for being enormous and detailed, each an epic unto itself. It would be almost impossible to make only one of these books into a film – they’re much more poised for a series of films If you’ve ever enjoyed a fantasy book, the WoT series is definitely worth a look.
As with the Twilight or Harry Potter film adaptations, I think these books would best be brought to film with the help of a cast of unknown actors. It’d be difficult to see main character Rand Al’Thor played as any current actor – Hayden Christensen would have come close, but he’s now too old for the role. I think this series of books could become great movies with the help of Peter Jackson, famous for his directing of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The plots of these books are weaved together with many threads, any director unwilling to pay homage to the special details might as well not make the films.