2012: The Year of Book-to-Film Adaptations

2012 is turning out to be a huge year for movie adaptations of amazing books! The first half of the year saw the release of the movie version of contemporary favorite The Hunger Games, and this fall and winter will see the release of film adaptations to seven really great books — although I must admit I have read only five of them. Read on for trailers, release dates, casting info, and my thoughts!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, book by Stephen Chbosky

Release date: Sept. 14
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Starring:
– Charlie: Logan Lerman
– Sam: Emma Watson
– Patrick: Ezra Miller
My thoughts: I know I’m not alone in saying that this coming-of-age novel was one of my favorite books in high school. That said, I have mixed feelings about the film; I’m a little apprehensive because it is so rare that a movie lives up to a great book, in my eyes, but I think the trailer looks great! It really captures Sam and Patrick’s wild lust for life, but also their brokenness. And how fantastic is Patrick?! He looks perfect for the role, and I’m crazy about him even after just a two-minute trailer. Emma Watson isn’t how I imagined Sam, but I think she’ll do a good job; I just hope she can pull of the American accent!

Anna Karenina, book by Leo Tolstoy

Release date: Nov. 9
Director: Joe Wright
Starring:
– Anna Karenina: Keira Knightley
– Alexei Karenin: Jude Law
– Count Vronsky: Aaron Johnson
My thoughts: Setting the entire film inside a theater is an interesting concept, and I’m interested to see how that will play out. I’m also curious to see how Levin’s storyline will fit into the movie; it’s such a long book to convert into a two-and-a-half-hour film that I wonder how Wright will express both stories. One thing is for certain, though; the cinematography is gorgeous!

Life of Pi, book by Yann Martel

Release date: Nov. 21
Director: Ang Lee
Starring:
– Pi Patel: Suraj Sharma
My thoughts: What a visually stunning trailer! I wish some of the CGI was more realistic, but I really like the dreamy, surreal setting, and I think it fits well with the way the book is written. I’m interested to see how the film will turn out, since so much of the story is internal to Pi. He’s stranded in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with no one to talk to but a tiger and himself, so it will be interested to see how the plot/internal narration of the book will be handled on-screen.

Les Miserables, book by Victor Hugo

Release date: Dec. 14
Director: Tom Hooper
Starring: (I haven’t read this book or seen the play, so I don’t know which are the most major characters; I’m just listing the top five billed on IMDB)
– Fantine: Anne Hathaway
– Cosette: Amanda Seyfried
– Javert: Russel Crowe
– Jean Valjean: Hugh Jackman
– Madame Thenardier: Helena Bonham Carter
My thoughts: Not being familiar with the story, I don’t really know enough to speculate about this particular movie. All I can really say is that the music is beautiful and that the cast list is impressive!

The Hobbit, book by J.R.R Tolkien

Release date: Dec. 14
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: (Once again, I haven’t read this book, so I’m listing a few characters I know from the LotR movies)
– Bilbo Baggins: Martin Freeman
– Frodo Baggins: Elijah Wood
– Gandalf: Ian McKellan
My thoughts: Again, I haven’t read the book, so I can’t make any predictions about how the film will hold up, but I did enjoy the LotR movies and will probably see this!

The Great Gatsby, book by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Release date: Dec. 25
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Starring:
– Nick Carroway: Toby Maguire
– Jay Gatsby: Leonardo DiCaprio
– Daisy: Carey Mulligan
– Tom Buchanon: Joel Edgerton
My thoughts: I’m pretty happy with the casting; Leo is the perfect choice for Gatsby, and I think Toby Maguire will do well as Nick. I know there’s some controversy about Toby in the role, but I think it’s actually a really good fit. Nick is kind of bland and doesn’t really do anything but hang around and observe things; who better to play him than Toby Maguire, a kind of bland, guy-next-door actor? But let’s move on so I can talk about how crazy opulent and extravagant everything is! Because, whoa, Baz Luhrmann sure knows how to film a dazzling party! I think we’ll really get a feel for the excess of the era, but I’m a little concerned about how prevalent the partying might be. The Great Gatsby is such a quiet, subtle book, and I wonder how well that will translate to film, especially when the majority of the trailer involves girls swinging from chandeliers and dancing in cars. With all of that in mind, this is the adaptation I’m most looking forward to this winter.

On the Road, book by Jack Kerouac

Release date: TBA
Director: Walter Salles
Starring:
– Sal Paradise: Sam Riley
– Dean Moriarty: Garrett Hedlund
– Marylou: Kristen Stewart
– Camille: Kirsten Dunst
My thoughts: I am somewhat less than excited for this one. Kristen Stewart seems like an odd choice of actress, and I’m not just saying that because her acting skills aren’t up to par; she’s such a teenybopper sensation that it seems strange to cast her in an adaptation of a Jack Kerouac novel. I’m a little in doubt as to whether most Twilight/Kristen Stewart fans are even aware of the Beat Generation. Maybe she was brought in to broaden the movie’s appeal? Another qualm I have with this adaptation is that I don’t think the best thing about the book will translate to the screen. What I love most about On the Road is the writing; it is full of beautiful, shiver-inducing sentences. I don’t need to physically see Sal wandering through the late-night streets of San Francisco when Kerouac’s words describing his thoughts are more powerful than I think any image could be. I probably won’t see this, but I’ll definitely be happy if some kids go to the movie to see Kristen Stewart and end up reading (and loving) On the Road because of it.

UPDATE:

Cloud Atlas, book by David Mitchell

Release date: Oct. 26
Director: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski
Starring: (Again, I’m just going by top billed on IMDB)
– Dr. Henry Goose – Tom Hanks
– Robert Frobisher – Ben Wishaw
– Adam Ewing/Hae-Joo Im – Jim Sterguss
– Louisa Rey/Meronym – Halle Berry
– Alberto Grimaldi/Cannibal – Hugh Grant
My thoughts: I don’t really know anything about Clout Atlas, but this trailer has convinced me that I desperately need to read it. This looks totally odd and intriguing and I need to know the story!

What are your thoughts on these adaptations, based on their trailers or casts? Any upcoming book-to-movie adaptations I’m missing? (Please don’t tell me I left out The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2; that was 100% intentional.)

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14 thoughts on “2012: The Year of Book-to-Film Adaptations

  1. I can’t wait for The Hobbit! I’ve read and loved the book several times, love the LOTR movies, so I’m biased, but…yeah, can’t wait. I’ll probably go see Les Miserables too. I really only know it through the stage musical cast recording, but I think it’s one I might like. Not sure about the others… I’ve seen a TV adaptation of Anna Karenina, so I don’t really feel a need to see another version. And I’m just not sure about Gatsby–I realized watching the trailer that I can’t remember the book at all, so I’d have to reread it first regardless.

    • Haha no problem 😛
      Oh that’s right! I wrote this post earlier last week because I was going to be out of town for a few days, and I don’t think the trailer had been released yet. I’ll add Cloud Atlas to the post!

    • Haha there was no question about leaving Twilight out. This is a blog about literature, not that garbage! I’m a bit afraid to even think about a Fifty Shades movie … isn’t that just called porn?

  2. Do you think you’ll read the books you haven’t read yet (that are being made into movies)? I’ve been wondering if I should try to fit “Life of Pi,” “On the Road,” and “Anna Karenina” (eek! so long!) into my reading this fall, as well as “Cloud Atlas,” which another poster mentioned already. I hate to see movies before I read their book counterparts, but that would really load up my (already large) list of books to read next. O the great plight of readers! There are always too many books to read.

    And I’m definitely most excited for The Great Gatsby, but they all look intriguing.

    • It is such a difficult plight! I feel like the more I read, the more books I realize I need to read. And although I always prefer to read a book before watching the movie based on it, I don’t think there’s any hurry to read the book before the movie is released. These movies will all eventually come out on DVD, and then you’ll be able to watch them whenever you’re ready. No reason to load up your huge TBR list with extra books just because they’re being made into movies in the next few months (unless, of course, you really want to read/watch them). There will always be time to read the books and watch the movies later, when you have more time (ha!). That’s my philosophy, anyway!

  3. I am dying to see The Great Gatsby, being a huge Baz Luhrmann (and Leonardo DiCaprio) fan myself. And… although embarrassed I admit I want to read Anna Karenina after watching the trailer.

    • No reason to be embarrassed about wanting to read Anna Karenina after watching the trailer! It’s certainly worth a read, and the impending movie is a great inducement to read it soon 🙂

  4. Ahhh so excited for these! The ones I’m most looking forward to are probably The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Great Gatsby because i LOVE Baz Luhrmann. I’m interested in seeing Life of Pi but to be honest I don’t have high hopes for it – I’m not sure how much of the story can really be translated to the screen in a way that accurately conveys the sense of un-reality and surrealism that I got from the book. I’m also nervous about Anna Karenina, but that could be because I’m not a big Kiera Knightly fan. Obviously I’ll be seeing all of these either way though, so I can’t wait to see how they all turn out! Thanks for posting them all!

    • I agree with nearly everything you just said. I think Perks of Being a Wallflower has the potential to be a really good movie, and I’m dying to see how The Great Gatsby turns out. Knightly as Anna is growing on me, but I wish they would have gone with someone a bit more full-figured; she was a 19th century Russian aristocrat, she shouldn’t be so waifish!

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