Top 10 Must-See Literature Based Movies

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While classic books have always made great movies, the recent trends in Hollywood leave many critics to wonder if the producers aren’t running out of ideas. However, the most probable explanation could be that people these days have very little patience when it comes to entertainment.

It may sound harsh, but the truth is that very few prefer spending two or three days reading a book when it is so simple to catch the basic idea from a two hours movie adaptation. While they can be viewed as a sign of intellectual laziness, some of these movies are really worth your time.


1. The Godfather trilogy

While Mario Puzzo 1969’s novel did not enjoy the same popularity, the movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola is considered one of the top ten best films of all times. The plot focuses around Vito Corleone – a mafia overlord – and his family. It features the outstanding performance of stars such as Al Pacino and Marlon Brando. It is sufficient to say that since its launch in 1972, the Godfather won three Academy Awards and maintains its second position among box office leaders.


2. To Kill a Mockingbird

Published in 1960, “To Kill a Mockingbird” was immediately recognized as a masterpiece of modern American literature. The action takes us back in a time of racial inequality and focuses on the tale of a white public defender Atticus Finch who has the courage to defend a black person who is arrested for undeserved charges. It is said that the humor and warmth of the storyline is the personal insight of Harper Lee who observed a similar event involving her family and neighbors when she was just 10 years old.


3. The Lord of the Rings trilogy

In 2001, director Peter Jackson decided to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s world to life. And what a marvelous job he did! Considered one of the most ambitious movie projects of all times, the Lord of the Rings trilogy follows the story of a young hobbit who decided to leave the quiet life of The Shire and journeys with 8 companions to the fires of Mount Doom in order to destroy the One Ring (and consequentially the evil Dark Lord Sauron) once and for all.


4. Harry Potter

Since the release of the first novel in 1997, J.K. Rowling’s creations have gained an enormous popularity across the globe. It is necessary to mention that the novels and the movies have had their share of criticism from various religious groups who claimed that the author is initiating children in magic practices. However, the story featuring Harry Potter and his friends in various incredible situations at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry managed to surpass all expectations and it is currently one of the most known stories for children worldwide.


5. Donnie Brasco

If you are a fan of movies featuring mafia, then this Mike Newell movie is surely going to blow you off your feet. Featuring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp, two prominent actors who ensure an impeccable performance, Donnie Brasco is a novel written by Richard Woodley and Joshep D. Pistone based on a true story. To summarize, the plot concentrates on an undercover FBI agent who manages to infiltrate the mafia only to discover that he has a lot in common with this underground world.


6. Fight Club

Nowadays, it is almost impossible to find a person who did not see or heard of Fight Club. Directed by David Fincher and featuring Brad Pitt (as the devil-may-care soap maker) and Edward Norton (the unnamed insomniac protagonist), the movie is considered a manifesto that turns into a violent revolution toward the current system. Since the number one rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club, I’ll let you discover more about the plot, ideas and the interesting dialogues by yourself.


7. Clockwork Orange

Shocking, gloomy and deranged, Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel written by Anthony Burgess and later on turned into a magnificent portrayal of the modern Western Society by none other than Stanley Kubrick. Although the storyline evolves around the main protagonist, Alex DeLarge, it also emphasizes a culture of aggression and violence taken to the extreme. Moreover, it brings up very important topics, such as the malevolent side of humans and the free will to choose between good and evil, topics that were regarded as taboo at the time, probably due to the numerous failed and immoral psychological experiments carried in that period.


8. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

On the stage and screen for more than 100 years, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz had a harsh history. Based on the novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W.W. Denslow, the film had to wait 37 years since the first stage play in order to get the acclamations it deserves. The plot features a young girl (Dorothy) swept away by the storm into a magical land. On her quest to return home, she discovers three unusual friends with whom she shares numerous adventures. Similar to Harry Potter, the story of Dorothy is well known across the globe and listed as the most watched movie of all times, according to the Library of Congress.


9. Gone with the Wind

Ten times Academy Awards winner and occupying the 4th place in the top 100 productions according to the American Film Institute, Gone with the Wind is one of the best love stories in the history of cinema. The action takes place in Georgia during the Civil War and focuses on the love affair between a manipulative woman and a wicked man. As a side note, Gone with the Wind is the first black and white film to benefit from the Technicolor technology.


10. Schindler’s List

Based on Thomas Keneally’s novel Schindler’s Ark, the movie follows the true story of a German industrialist who manages to rescue hundreds of Jews from various concentration camps during the Second World War and the Nazi regime. Featuring Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler and directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie launched in 1993 was a tremendous success winning seven Academy Awards and seven BAFTAs.


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11 Responses

  1. Edwin

    What do you mean about Gone With The Wind being a black-and-white film? It was shot in color originally.

  2. Mary

    Incredible to have missed Pride and Prejudice, the Firth/Ehle version, Wuthering Heights and Sophie’s Choice. All better than most on this list. Except the incredible To Kill a Mockingbird of course.

  3. Sean Mac

    I have done all books except: ‘Harry Potter’, which I refuse to watch or read, and ‘Shindler’s List’. I don’t read fiction.

  4. Robert Taylor

    I tried at least five separate time to read Schindler’s List and just could not get into it. Very poorly written, very dull, very unreadable – at least the first chapter or two.
    Re: Donnie Brasco – I never watch any movies with Al Pacino, one of the all-time WORST actors ever to be allowed to be in a movie.

  5. D

    Missing the best ever – One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Last of the Mohicans is great, and so is Blade Runner. And let’s not forget Jaws.

  6. Dutch

    All of these are better movies than Atlas Shrugged but none are better books. For that reason I’ll stick to the books and leave the movies for the illiterate, ADD crowd.

  7. Will Brown

    One of my top 10 or 20 would be Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, directed by Mike Nichols.

  8. MB

    Let’s see.

    I read LOTR years ago, long before the Jackson movies, but around the time of the Rankin-Bass Hobbit movie and the Ralph Bakshi’s LOTR movie (only covered about half the books).

    Seeing the first Harry Potter movie led me to read the books.

    Am well aware of the book, Clockwork Orange, but have not read it.

    I saw the Wizard of Oz movie several times. then I read the book (and many many of its sequels), and found the book much better and so I don’t like the movie any more.

  9. skunkbear

    When talking about books-to-movies I have to say that Fight Club nailed it the best. And I think Grapes of Wrath was pretty good too. As far as the best movie of all time, I would say that Saving Private Ryan tops the list – once. As a combat vet, I will never watch it again.

    The Godfather then steps up as the best in cinema.

    One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is also a good choice for books-to-movies since it came out of two books: the one with the same title and the New Testament.

  10. Spectator

    Schindler’s List is a dog–just put on list for PC compliance.

    Babette’s Feast an infinitely superior film in every respect.


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