The books behind your favourite films

15 March 2017

It's hard to know what Hollywood would do without authors. There are many classic films that you might not even realise are based on books. Here's our pick of some of the greatest book-to-movie adaptations, all of which live up to, and in a few rare cases even surpass, their source material. 

 

Blade Runner 

Based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Considered one of the best sci-fi films of all time Blade Runner captured cinema goer’s imaginations when it was released in the early ‘80s. Before the sequel (slated for release later this year) familiarise yourself with the original story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by the much acclaimed Philip K. Dick.

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Clueless 

Based on Emma by Jane Austen

Loosely based on Jane Austen’s brilliant comedy of manners Emma, this Beverly Hills teen movie captured the hearts of the first cohort of Gen Y-ers when it was released in 1995. Follow Alicia Silverstone as Cher/Emma Woodhouse and the late Brittany Murphy as Tai/Harriet Smith as they transform from vapid to vastly self-improved.

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Cruel Intentions 

Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos 

The complex moral ambiguities of seduction and revenge make Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782) one of the most scandalous and controversial novels in European literature. Its prime movers, the Vicomte de Valmont (Sebastian/Ryan Phillippe) and the Marquise de Merteuil (Kathryn/Sarah Michelle Geller) are gifted, wealthy, and bored. Adapted into an Upper East Side prep school setting, 1999’s Cruel Intentions is a dark teen thriller about seduction and deception. 

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Die Hard 

Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorpe

High atop a Los Angeles skyscraper, an office Christmas party turns into a deadly cage-match between a lone New York City cop and a gang of international terrorists. Every action fan knows it could only be the explosive big-screen blockbuster Die Hard. But before Bruce Willis blew away audiences as unstoppable hero John McClane, author Roderick Thorp knocked out thriller readers with the bestseller that started it all.

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Drive

Drive by James Sallis

Set mostly in Arizona and L.A., Drive is, according to author James Sallis, '...about a guy who does stunt driving for movies by day and drives for criminals at night...'. Ryan Gosling captured cinema goer’s attention as the lead role in that unforgettable gold satin jacket complete with embroidered scorpion appliqué.

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Gone with the Wind 

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell's 1936 historical epic novel is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and a people forever changed. Above all, it is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett O'Hara, portrayed by Vivien Leigh in the 1939 film adaptation, and Clark Gable as the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.

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Jaws

Jaws by Peter Benchley

Spielberg’s 1975 adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name has endured as a classic thriller. Telling the story of a giant man-eating white shark attacking beachgoers in a fictional U.S. town Jaws inspired a worldwide sea-fearing epidemic. With the tagline 'you’ll never go in the water again', it’s not hard to see why.

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No Country for Old Men 

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, stumbles upon a transaction gone horribly wrong. Finding bullet-ridden bodies, several kilos of heroin, and a caseload of cash, he faces a choice – leave the scene as he found it, or cut the money and run. The Coen Brothers’ adaptation of the eponymous McCarthy novel won four Oscars including the Best Supporting Actor statue for Javier Bardem’s portrayal of the ruthless and relentless hit man Anton Chigurh.

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Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Silver Linings Playbook marked the first time Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper were cast opposite each other in starring roles, creating a tradition that to date has seen the pair share the stage together in four more films. The debut novel by Matthew Quick is the touching and quirky best selling tale of strangers Pat and Tiffany who help each other through life’s adversities.

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10 Things I Hate About You 

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Controversial and sexually charged, The Taming of the Shrew is possibly Shakespeare's first play, and certainly among the most performed. The Padua High School modern-day adaptation sees Julia Styles as Kat Stratford (the shrew) and Larisa Oleynik as her perfect younger sister Bianca. With support from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Heath Ledger 10 Things I Hate About You is a fiercely feminist retelling of the Bard’s original.

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The Birds 

The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier

'How long he fought with them in the darkness he could not tell, but at last the beating of the wings about him lessened and then withdrew...'

A classic story of alienation, horror and sheer terror The Birds, based on Daphne Du Maurier’s short story, was immortalised by Hitchcock in his celebrated 1963 film of the same name.

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The Men Who Stare At Goats 

The Men Who Stare At Goats by Jon Ronson

The 1979 secret US Army battalion that believed a soldier could adopt a cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them were known as the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren’t joking. The investigative non-fiction novel The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson was adapted into a war parody comedy starring Jeff Bridges and George Clooney in 2009.

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The Rules of Attraction 

The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis

Incisive, controversial and startlingly funny, The Rules of Attraction examines a group of affluent students at a small, self-consciously bohemian, liberal-arts college on America’s East Coast. Bret Easton Ellis’ breathtaking tale of sex, expectation, desire and frustration was distilled onto the silver screen by the co-writer of the Oscar winning Pulp Fiction screenplay Roger Avary.

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The Shawshank Redemption 

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption is the story of two men convicted of murder - one guilty, one innocent - who form the perfect partnership as they dream up a scheme to escape from prison. The Oscar-nominated adaptation may have dropped the Rita Hayworth from the title but it didn’t drop the nuances included in King’s brilliant novella.

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