Which is better – the book or the film? Keen readers will nearly always say the book is better, pointing out just how many crucially important plot details the film-makers left out, or explaining that a particular choice of actor was just a devastatingly horrific casting mistake. But sometimes the film-makers get it just right and book-lovers like you and me get to experience our favourite stories in a whole new way. Here are some of my personal favourites…
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – My favourite book of the series, and my favourite of the film versions too. It’s a tight and clever story with lots of tension and a brilliant twist. I love the magical feeling of the film adaptation – at times dark, frightening and Halloweeny, at others more twinkling, cosy and Christmassy… The sets and the music really make the Harry Potter films for me.
2. The Jungle Book – I’m referring to the Disney version here, as opposed to the new live-action film, which I’ve yet to see (it looks visually stunning although perhaps just a tad too action-tastic). The Disney film of The Jungle Book is timeless, though – a gloriously cheerful interpretation, and I absolutely love the songs.
3. Mary Poppins – Perhaps, for many children, the film version of Mary Poppins has rather eclipsed the original books by P. L. Travers. I read them once when I was small, but when I think about Mary Poppins, I always see (and hear) the wonderful Julie Andrews in this magical, part-animated adaptation.
4. Matilda – Possibly my favourite Roald Dahl story. I was always convinced that my brain was capable of doing extraordinary, supernatural things too… The film version of Matilda is lovely, though it took me a while to get used to the American accents. I also saw Tim Minchin’s musical of Matilda in the West End a couple of years ago and it was just BRILLIANT.
5. The Wizard of Oz – Another musical movie adaptation, and a magnificent one. I have no idea how many times I saw this film when I was little, but it was A LOT. I still remember being small enough to find some of it genuinely terrifying – the Wicked Witch of the West’s scenes, obviously, but I was also petrified of the trees that threw apples…
The new film version of The BFG is out now and I CAN’T WAIT to see it! Perhaps it will become one of my all-time favourites! What are your most-loved book-to-film adaptations?