Books have been adapted into movies ever since the advent of film. From the popular Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series, to this year’s most anticipated movies, The Fault in Our Stars and Gone Girl, there’s just something wondrous about seeing your favorite characters pop out of the pages and onto the big screen.
But recent best sellers aren’t the only novels that should get star treatment. A lot more of the classics could be adapted into films, as well. For example, when The Lord of the Rings and The Great Gatsby were modernized into big budget films, their greatness was re-introduced to a new generation. Their timeless themes are what have let the classics endure through the ages, within libraries and high school curricula. If adapted into movies, we think these particular books could be re-popularized to the mass public.
7) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
This classic sci fi was made into a TV movie in 1998, but we think it should be revisited with a bigger budget. The book takes place in a futuristic London in the year 2540, where everyone is unified under The World State and kept peaceful and happy with drugs, government controlled reproduction, and caste system.
Sex is a big seller for modern movies (think Don Jon and The Wolf of Wall Street), and this is one reason we think Brave New World would be a steamy remake; in the book, sex is a hobby rather than a means for reproduction. Casual intimacy along with drug filled parties, futuristic fashion, and settings in London and New Mexico (where the main characters go on holiday at a “savage” reservation) would make the videography for Brave New World a must see.
6) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
Fahrenheit 451, another futuristic novel, is set in a society in which “firemen” are tasked with finding and burning books. Guy Montag, a fireman and our protagonist, begins to question his job after meeting and talking to an outcast teenager, Clarisse.
Although a movie adaption of Fahrenheit 451 came out in 1966, we think a newer, more action-packed, fast-paced version would do well today. After all, the plot of Fahrenheit 451 has a lot in common with recent popular young adult science fictions like The Hunger Games and Divergent; each centers around a distopian future society that the main character goes on a quest to change. To take inspiration from the strong female leads in those novels-turned-movies, a current version of Fahrenheit 451 could expand the character of Clarisse, and young actresses like Emma Roberts or Dakota Fanning could possibly be fit for the part.
5) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
The Scarlet Letter is continually referenced in today’s pop culture – the movie Easy A and Taylor Swift’s “Love Song” lyrics, “You were Romeo, I was a scarlet letter” – so it’s about time that modern society sees what the allusion is really about.
Hawthorne’s famous novel is set in Puritan Boston, where protagonist Hester Prynne finds herself pregnant out of wedlock and therefore shunned from society, forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her chest as a constant reminder that she is an adulteress. A film version of The Scarlet Letter was already made in 1995, but twenty first century Hollywood could capitalize on passion and romance of The Scarlet Letter to turn it into a real hit. The producers could even play with the setting to put it in more modern times, making the language more approachable to general audiences.
4) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
The messages of equality and justice in To Kill a Mockingbird that make it a classic, also worth another shot at the big screen. To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the South during the Great Depression. When lawyer and widowed father of two young children, Atticus Finch takes on the defense of a black man who was accused of raping a white girl, tensions in the town run higher than ever.
We could possibly see Matthew McConaughey take on the part of Atticus because of his broad acting experience and Southern roots. Even further, we could see Johnny Depp play the part of Boo Radley, the town’s mysterious recluse. The characters of Atticus’s children, which are very big parts in the book, as his daughter is the first person narrator, would be good break out roles for up-and-coming child actors.
3) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (1937)
Like To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men is also set in the Great Depression era, but in California instead of the South. An unlikely pair, George, a clever young man, and Lennie, who is big and strong but intellectually disabled, set off together to find ranch work. They find trouble when Lennie accidentally hurts the wife of the farm owner’s son.
Currently, James Franco and Chris O’Dowd are playing the two main characters in a Broadway version of the book, so they would be obvious choices for an Of Mice and Men movie. We can also imagine a new movie-version of the book having stunning, brightly colored visuals of California farmland to offset the poignant plot.
2) Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)via kahnscorner.com
Gone With the Wind is unique because the 1939 film is just as well known as the book itself. However, one of the most famous things about the movie is how long it is – almost four hours. A modern version of Gone With the Wind would be challenged to pick up the pace.
Gone With the Wind is set in the south during the Civil War and centers around the many romances of Scarlett O’Hara, especially that with Rhett Butler. One of the things we’d most look forward to seeing in a modern remake of this tale is the beautiful, intricate costumes, especially Scarlett’s many dresses. There’s a few actresses that could play the spoiled and hot-headed heroine. Reese Witherspoon could be an interesting option because she’s already a southern belle, but an actress like Scarlett Johansson (she already shares the protagonist’s name, after all) might also suit the role; the book begins when Scarlett is 16 and ends when she’s 28.
1) The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)
The number one classic book we want to see come to life is The Catcher in the Rye. Unlike many classic books, this novel has never been made into any kind of on screen adaptation. J.D. Salinger actually refused to sell the movie rights to his book, calling the story “unactable.” After Salinger died in 2010, however, whispers of Hollywood snatching up Catcher began to stir.
We don’t know what truth there is to them, but we do know it would take someone truly special to play Holden Caulfield. The book follows Caufield’s journeys through late 40s/ early 50s New York City, after leaving his private school. It’s a coming of age story of a teenager dealing with independence, sexuality and humanity, in a way similar to the modern tale The Perks of Being a Wallflower. However, Logan Lerman, who played Charlie in Perks, might not be the right person to play Holden. Instead, someone like Dylan O’Brien may have the right look and set of skills.