Top Three: Movies Adapted From Books

Jaws is a 1975 American horror/thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the Peter Benchley novel of the same name. Ask anyone, from your 90-year-old Granny to the 15-year-old boy who lives across the road, they are bound to know Jaws and the infamous bone-trembling music that accompanied the man-eating great white shark. The screenplay, filmed mostly in Martha’s Vineyard, with the fictional name Amity Island, is credited mainly to Benchley who, although leaving the main subplots of his novel out of the film, wrote the entirety of the first drafts. Jaws went on to become the highest grossing film in history at the time, surpassing The Godfather, and was said to be pivotal in establishing the modern Hollywood blockbuster. Jaws is regularly cited as one of the ‘greatest movies of all time’ and the novel became known in the literary world as ‘Moby Dick meets Enemy of The People’.

Based on the first volume of J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, is 2001’s epic fantasy film, The Fellowship of the Ring, directed by Peter Jackson. Set in Middle Earth, the story tells of the Dark Lord Sauron, who is seeking the One Ring. Filmed in a fabulously majestic New Zealand setting The Fellowship of The Ring is unlike any fantasy film made before it and is perhaps what makes it stand out against its two follow ups – The Two Towers and The Return of The King. The film won four Academy Awards and five BAFTAs, including Best Film and Best Director. For purpose of pacing and character development Jackson made numerous changes to the original Tolkien story such as focusing primarily on Frodo and his hunt for the One Ring as the backbone of the film’s plot. Jackson has since gone on to create The Hobbit, Tolkien’s prequel to The Lord Of The Rings but many die-hard fantasy fans criticized it for being a too ‘samey’ as the other films in the franchise.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is the 2005 film adaptation of the 1964 book of the same name by legendary author, Roald Dahl. The creatively strange film was directed by Tim Burton and stars Hollywood hotshots Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore. Development for the film began in 1991, 20 years after the first film version of the novel, named Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The Dahl estate was given total artistic control for both versions of the film but decided to give Burton freedom to make a slightly darker version than what had previously been allowed. Although the film appears as if a Crayola machine has exploded all over the set, Burton avoided using digital effects as much as possible as he wanted the “beautiful simplicity” of the story to shine through. Burton was described by a relative of Dahl as being the only director (after failed attempts by many others) that the estate was happy with and loved how he went out of his way to stick to the original book’s storyline. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory has grossed just under $500 million worldwide.

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