Many book lovers have a love-hate relationship with film adaptions. It can be amazing to see your favorite text come to life, but in the adaption process, some of your favorite moments may be cut or changed, which can be frustrating. A lot of the time, the movies will not end up looking like how you imagined.
We love film adaptions, and wanted to share some of the ones currently on Netflix that we can vouch for. Some will feel so close to the original that you’ll have trouble separating the two. Others will be so different that you’ll forget that one is derived from the other, or even surprise you that it was originally a book at all.
This modern classic movie stands on it’s own. It’s easy to forget that Tina Fey adapted it from a self-help book called Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman. While the book focused on how cliques form and the patterns of aggression in teen girl behavior, movie is centered around Cady, homeschooled until now, trying to navigate the halls of North Shore High School while getting sucked into the popular clique, the Plastics. Mean Girls is always worth a re-watch (because, let’s be honest, you’ve already seen it at least three times).
Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition
This trilogy by Steig Larson, beginning with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, has already been adapted several times. There is both a Swedish and an American movie, plus a Swedish six-part miniseries and an American six-part miniseries. The American miniseries is available on Netflix. Each book comes in two 90-minute episodes, giving the attention to detail that these thrillers deserve.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Despite A Series of Unfortunate Events being a relatively new book series (The Bad Beginning was published in 1999, and The End in 2006), the first few books in the series have already been adapted twice. The first was a widely disliked movie starring Jim Carrey. The second is a Netflix Original starring Neil Patrick Harris. This adaption is much more true to the books, coming in two 40-65 minute episodes per book. The first season covered the first four books, and the second season is in the works.
Anne With an “E”
While there are plenty of adaptions of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Anne With an “E” is one of the most recent, and arguably pays the most attention to detail, down to the types of potatoes they eat. There is a bit of extrapolation; in this version, we see some of Anne’s backstory, including the abuse she received before coming to Avonlea. It has already been renewed for a second season, which reportedly will expand on Matthew and Marilla’s backstories as well.
The Great Gatsby (1974 version)
While F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s classic story has been adapted recently, it is the 1974 version that is on Netflix. This is the version you likely would have watched in your high school English class if you had a “cool” teacher (or watched on your own to pretend you read it). It’s true to the book, down to all of the heavy-handed symbolism. If the Leonardo DiCaprio version was hard to get into, likely due to the dissonance between the music and the time period, this is the version for you.
Both the book and movie of Holes have garnered standalone reputations. In the book, there are three timelines: present day, the 19th century curse, and Kissin’ Kate Barlow. For the movie, the 19th century plot was cut, making Stanley (played by Shia LaBeouf) in the present day timeline stuck at Camp Green Lake as an alternate to jail, rather than because of bad luck.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
This heart-wrenching yet controversial book was adapted in 2008. The biggest difference between the book and the movie is that in the book, you only get Bruno’s perspective. He’s a young boy, and doesn’t understand what’s going on. If you don’t notice the holocaust sticker on the spine when you picked it up, it could take a while before you realize what’s happening. The movie gives a larger perspective, giving us context. The ending was also handled differently.
13 Reasons Why
This Netflix Original caused quite the resurgence in interest in Thirteen Reasons Why, but it also helped that Selena Gomez was an executive producer of the show. The book and the movie have the same pretext and feel, but the details are different. We see much more of Clay’s life in the series, and some of the details were changed. The show also added more setup for the trial and a plot twist at the end, opening up the opportunity for a second season. The show kicked up a lot of controversy, and is told in 13 episodes, one for each reason.