Writers love words. I’m typical that way. In fact, I love words so much I studied German with an emphasis in German Literature when I was in college. So when I saw this topic-what 3 books should be made into movies-my choices were naturally influenced by my studies. With these recommendations I act in part as a lover of literature and films and in part as a German English translator; I suggest great stories to you that you might not have heard about otherwise, but might just wind up loving. So with no further adieu, these are my choices for the top three books that I’d like to see made into movies, and hopefully, nothing will be lost in translation.
by Birgit Vanderbeke
“First I had no child. I didn’t want one. Then I had one. Good. Good? My biggest problem was to stay alive. You laugh, but that isn’t a joke.”
And so begins Birgit Vanderbeke tale of a reluctant, accidental mother, Miss Ragotsky. The tale takes the reader from a girl who was so worried about dying that she shouldn’t have a kid to a girl who fretted over the fact that after a certain point no men looked at her legs anymore as her stomach expanded to its outer limits. That same young girl didn’t trust her own judgment when it came to raising kids so she deferred to her mother-a lot-when her son, Flo was born. Oh, and did I mention that the boyfriend, A.C., who was Flo’s father, wasn’t a serious boyfriend until she became pregnant. Talk about messy.
But eventually Miss Ragotsky gets it. She doesn’t end up with the guy, but she does end up trusting herself as a mother, and figuring out that even if the world ends, what she’s doing is good enough.
Miss Ragotsky:Renee Zellweger. She was awesome in “Briget Jones’ Diary, and this book has that kind of messy, but really funny kind of real life quality to it. Zellweger’s strength is her ability to play working class folks with class so that they are three dimensional characters and not caricatures.
A.C.: Paul Rudd. Why? Because he’s got that quirky kind of charm that makes you believe given the right circumstances he can really be a dork, but in a cool, charming, aaawwww kind of way.
In the director’s chair: Catherine Hardwick. The lady who first brought Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” saga to the screen is just savvy enough to pick a just right cast, but quirky enough to take on material like this.
by Lev Raphael
“My Germany” is the only non-fiction book on the list, but deserves to be there nonetheless. Raphael’s parents were Holocaust survivors, which lands Lev Raphael into that small, but important minority known as the Second Generation. That is, he and others like him are the children of the Holocaust survivors. They, too, bring scars with them. He learned very early on it life that unlike other kids he knew, photos of his extended family didn’t exist, because his family no longer existed. What’s more, Nazi cruelty not only took his extended family away, it took away his mother’s ability to talk about her family, leaving Raphael with no sense of his family history.
When she finally died, Lev Raphael realized, he didn’t know anything about where he came from, so he did what every child of Jewish Holocaust survivor is forbidden to do-go to Germany to find his roots.
But as Raphael points out in the opening of his book, he would be arriving in Germany under very different circumstances-as a successful author and in a Germany post World War II.
The story is fascinating and gripping from the first page, and Raphael is a first-rate writer. This book definitely deserves to be made into a movie.
Lev Raphael: Keith Caradine. Not only do the actor and the author bear an uncanny resemblance to one another, but Caradine also has a deep resonant voice like Raphael and the dignity and quiet humor necessary to play this part.
In the director’s chair: Bryan Singer. Granted Brian Singer has made some big movies like the “X-Men“, he also made “Valkyrie“, which shows he’s no stranger to big World War II topics.
by Franz Kafka
Probably the most famous story by the man who inspired the saying “Kafkaesque”. “The Metamorphosis” tells the story of Gregor Samsa, a man who wakes up one morning to find he’s changed into a giant bug. No one knows why. And Kafka didn’t beat around the bush either, waiting a couple of pages to tell the reader that Samsa had been turned into a bug so that the reader had time to learn to like his main character. No. He dropped that little bomb right in the first paragraph.
So how come it is, then, that a book that starts out trying its best to repulse the reader ends up making him cry at the end? That’s the genius of Kafka. Many people have wanted to make this into a film, but so far because of the constraints placed on the character and special effects, no satisfactory version of this book has been made into a film that wasn’t an animated version or the retelling of Kafka’s life.
Gregor Samsa: Andy Serkis of LOTR Gollum fame. I chose him in part because he has already proven more than once that he’s the actor to bring the character in a suit alive and in part because he’s just a great actor.
In the director’s chair: Peter Jackson, of course. Who else could direct Gollum and bring Kafka’s work to life without overdoing the special effects?