Classic Books that Deserve New Film Adaptations

Books have always been a popular source for Hollywood when making new movies, presenting a way for both fans of the source material and new fans to enjoy a well-told story. With social media helping books gain popularity, these adaptations will likely be even more popular in the coming years. While some book-to-movie adaptations take the source material and effectively portray it on screen, others may not stay true to the book, or just don’t capture the heart of the book. All the films on this list are books that have already been adapted for the screen. Some of them are successful, while some are not, but all could benefit from a new perspective, and a new adaptation that would introduce them to new audiences. Here are nine classic books that deserve a new film adaptation.

9 Brave New World (1998 and 2020)

Long before the dystopian book and movie craze, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 book introduced a world where everyone has a pre-created place in the world, and has to follow the world’s rules to live. Leslie Libman and Larry Williams brought it to life with a TV movie in 1998, and David Wiener created a loose adaptation for Peacock in 2020, where it was canceled after one season. Despite its recent failures, the story still makes a good fit for our times, and is likely one that will continue to be told in the future. A future adaptation of this could truly bring the coldness and fine hope of Huxley’s book to life.

8 1984 (1984)

Michael Radford’s adaptation, released in 1984, is considered a strong adaptation that mostly succeeds in representing George Orwell’s grim vision of the future, as worker Winston struggles to maintain his identity in a totalitarian world. The book still remains both relevant and popular, with the World Tribune reporting that it was a top seller just last year. It is both a reflection of some aspects of our world, and a warning of what could come; a new film would be especially timely.

7 Frankenstein (1931 and 2014)

This Mary Shelley novel has had many adaptations, the most popular being the 1931 classic with Boris Karloff, which created the popular image of Frankenstein’s monster. A more recent version is Stuart Beattie’s 2014 film I, Frankensteinwhich received negative reviews and turned the story into an angels-and-demons war. According to CinemaBlend, there are still plans for a Frankenstein movie in Universal’s new universe of their Classic Monsters. This film is a good opportunity to blend the moral and ethical dilemmas of science with classic horror and monsters.

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6 East of Eden (1955)

This 1955 film, directed by Elia Kazan, focuses on the final part of John Steinbeck’s novel. It stars James Dean in his first major film role, and earned him a posthumous Oscar nomination. This version is excellent enough to stand on its own, but it would be interesting to see how a new take would adapt the story of generational conflict and the balance between good and evil. A new version could also bring the full novel to life, rather than just the final part, creating additional depth.

5 Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005)

Zora Neale Hurston’s novel is directed by Darnell Martin in this TV movie about Janie (Halle Berry) searching for love and identity in the 1920s. Many reviewers didn’t like the changes made from the book, saying that they watered down the novel’s themes of race and identity, but it received mostly positive reviews from audiences. A new version would give a new creative team the opportunity to fully address those issues, which are still relevant today, and let the story itself truly shine.

4 Dorian Gray (2009)

This 2009 adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray is directed by Oliver Parker and brings a horror approach to the tale of a young man who remains young and beautiful while his portrait ages and grows monstrous with his actions. The film received average reviews from critics and wasn’t much better received with audiences. Another try at adapting this novel could depart from the horror and lean more into romance, albeit the romance of one man and his desire for his own youth, while addressing the perils of society emphasizing such beauty.

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3 Love in the Time of Cholera (2007)

Mike Newell directed the 2007 film Love in the Time of Cholera, based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It tells the story of Fermina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), a young woman caught in a love triangle in a story that spans from 1880 to 1930. While visually stunning, the film didn’t recreate the magical feel of the novel and often felt boring. A new adaptation could benefit from embracing a more fantastical approach, while also making the romance fresh and exciting by addressing the perils of loveickness.

2 The Three Musketeers (2011)

This Alexandre Dumas classic about four heroes in 17th-century France has had many adaptations, including a TV series that ran from 2014 to 2016 and a 2011 movie directed by Paul WS Anderson. Despite having a talented cast, the 2011 movie received negative reviews and failed to make the source material memorable and enjoyable. This tale of justice and action has a classic feel that is still relevant today. Historical dramas have been popular Lately, and a new adaptation could put some life into this classic tale.

1 The Time Machine (2002)

The most recent film version of this HG Wells novel was directed by Simon Wells and came out in 2002. It stars Guy Pearce as Dr. Hartdegen, a professor who travels through time and finds himself in a world of feuding Eloi and Morlocks. The film would go on to earn $123 million worldwide, but was considered a critical flop, focusing on special effects, rather than the humans in the story. A new adaptation would be a good way to blend the advances of science with the costs it has on humanity. It could take this still-relevant issue and apply it to our times, giving the story more emotion and depth than its previous iteration.

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