Why turn good books into movies?
When I started this article, I actually had something completely different in mind. I thought I would throw out a list of books I love, say why I would want to see them made into movies, and who I think would be good in the movie or as director and so on. I soon realized though, that most of the books I adored and would want to see on film simply wouldn’t make good movies. However, some books I loved had already been made into good movies, and others had somehow hatched their way into bad film versions of very good books and were as appealing as rotten eggs in an enclosed space. Yuck.
Hyperbole aside, some books simply do not translate well into film. The problem is, not all of the people I know enjoy reading the way I do, and when I read a good book I want to share the joy. So, I may recommend something to a fellow reader, and I know we’ll probably talk about it and compare, but for someone who doesn’t read, my thoughts are normally, “Well, if only it were a movie…”.
Reading makes the mind work harder — take the author’s words and sentence structure and create your own picture; you are the director, you do the hard work. But, sometimes seeing those movies come to life and sharing special book moments with others can be thrilling, too. It’s nice to let go and let someone else’s vision take over, especially when you can smile at the person next to you and whisper, “This is really good!”
What Books Would You Like To See Turned Into A Movie?
I could have chosen lots of books I’d enjoy seeing made into films, but I decided to narrow my choices down to ones I thought would actually work. My taste in literature pretty much runs the gamut from Sci-Fi to Classics to True Crime to Beatniks and most everything around and in between.
These may not be my top choices, but they are books I enjoyed, books I’d love to see made into a feature film, and I think they would actually be good movies in the right hands.
1. The Kay Scarpetta Books by Patricia Cornwell (especially the earlier books)
Dr. Kay Scarpetta is tough, smart, attractive, driven, and has been through some serious drama. She manages to handle her life, her cases, and the dynamic personalities of those around her, all the while reeling us into her lab, her kitchen, and sometimes her bedroom. She’s sexy, but she’s also a lady.
I imagined her being played by Jodie Foster or Laura Linney; Diane Lane or Mariska Hargitay– Someone with class and beauty and just a little tough, too. I imagined someone who could portray Scarpetta’s vulnerability as well as her need for perfection.
I’ve read every Scarpetta book, and I know her, as do all her fans. She deserves to be brought to life on film as a woman with many facets, and not just pretty lips and long legs (which are not her traits anyway), so when I heard that there was actually talk of a movie and that Angelina Jolie would play Scarpetta, I pouted. Angelina Jolie is not Kay Scarpetta, period. She’s wrong for the part, and I would like to see one of my choices or even a newcomer play the Medical Examiner whose life we follow. AJ is too exotic for this part — again, she is not Kay.
I thought of removing this one from my list, but I’ll leave it since I do love the series and hope that the movies do it justice. We’ll see!
2. Tesla : A Man Out of Time — based on the life of Nikola Tesla as written by Margaret Cheney
David Bowie did an excellent job of portraying Tesla in the movie “The Prestige”, so he’s definitely a possibility.
There’s one other person who immediately came to mind — Jeff Goldblum. Whoever plays Nikola Tesla, the genius inventor and engineer, will have to be able to portray his quirkiness, his extraoridnary intelligence, and his charm and compassion all while wrapped in a smoldering, smart package both early and late in life.
I can definitely see either Bowie (he did it before) or Goldblum(he has the look) as Nikola Tesla. Compare the pictures and see for yourself — there is something about both of them that screams “quirky OCD almost magical engineer who was friends with Mark Twain”.
Tesla and his discoveries and inventions contributed so much to technology, and he is sorely underrecognized. Let’s make this book into a movie and give Tesla his due. (I’m leaning toward Goldblum. His range is amazing, and I think he can embody the intelligence, darkness, humor, compassion, and quirkiness of Nikola Tesla. He certainly has the dark good looks and could age well or go younger.)
3. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Wally Lamb managed to capture Dolores Price and hurt-female-childhood/adolscence/womanhood, delivering her voice to us in first person narrative, and it worked; oh how it worked. Women around the world were stunned that a male could not only get it, but could get it so right. A guy actually wrote this book? Yes; I know!
From the opening page, I was hooked. Dolores had problems, and we soon knew why. We saw her grow (physically , enormously ) and shrink inside herself. And who could blame her? We cried with and for Dolores, and Wally Lamb left us shaking with tears of joy, rage, and sadness for this girl as we followed her into adulthood.
Wally Lamb manages to rip our hearts out with Dolores’ and our own pain, and somehow build us back up to something that seems so real, and so very feminine. It’s dark, it’s humorous, it’s painful, and it touches on subjects we don’t like to talk about — mental illness, rape, homosexuality, obesity, revenge, AIDS, loss, family, friendship, and how sometimes friendship is more like family and family is more like pain. Dolores doesn’t battle her life with rainbows and butterflies and perfect tidy endings, and the climax of the book is one that would overwhelm a movie screen … but it coud be done.
That book ripped me apart. I’d love to watch the movie and cry. I know Dolores, and in some ways, I am Dolores.
We stay wtih Delores a long time, so whoever played her would have to be really, really good. I think Christina Ricci would be good in some ways, but she’s so tiny and young looking, I don’t know how well she would age. I think she does well at playing vulnerable and somewhat kooky characters, and Dolores is definitely those things.
Perhaps Kate Winslet with darkened hair –she seems pretty good at morphing. I’m honestly not sure who I would have play Dolores, but I would love to see this book made into a very good film.
So Many Choices
There are many other amazing books I wish could be made into movies, but I’m no sure how they would do, so for now I’ll leave it with those three. They’re great books, I’d love to see them on the screen, and I think the casting would be an interesting and even emotional process, considering how much we readers invest in characters.
And for you … what books would you like to see made into a movie?