Friday, December 20, 2013

Sharing the Joy: The Best Book-to-Film Classics by Kate Voss


Film adaptations of books are always a touchy subject with book lovers. Everyone has their own interpretation of what characters, places, and things should look and sound like so when Hollywood decides to make them into movies, in a different way than you imagined, it’s easy to get disappointed. Then there is the plot, or rather a deviation from it. Hollywood is notorious for tinkering with the plots of books in order to make them “better suited” for film, usually involving a romantic twist, or a happy ending. However, there are some moments when Hollywood does a great job of adapting a book for film thanks to big budgets and incredible special effects.

Let’s take a look at a few Christmas books Hollywood did get right.

A Christmas Carol (2009)
The classic Charles Dickens tale has been adapted to film more times than anyone would care to count, but never like this before. The $170-200 million budget for this film made it one of the most expensive animated films ever. Thanks to this extraordinary budget, the CGI animation breathes new life into the nearly beaten-to-death story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts that visit him. Despite the fact that the film is animated, it’s more than entertaining for adults who can enjoy it with their children during the holidays.

The Polar Express
The best-selling book about a magical train to the North Pole by Chris Van Allsburg has been a perennial favorite for children since its release in 1985. When it was made into a film in 2004, no expense was spared to make it an IMAX 3D visual extravaganza. The Polar Express was also the first ever film to use all-digital captures of digitally recorded acting, then to be replaced by computer generated images. The result of the nearly two-and-a-half year production is truly a sight to be seen.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Dr. Seuss films seem commonplace now, but this was the film that started it all. It seems that movie studios were a bit afraid of tackling such a well-known and beloved author’s stories in a live action format instead of an animated one. Luckily they took a chance with the Grinch, and the results were amazing. Jim Carrey was transformed into the grouchy green anti-hero thanks to daily 3-hour makeup sessions while filming. While this video isn’t of Jim, it will give you an idea what the lengthy process looked like. His portrayal of the Grinch was over the top, wild, and pitch-perfect. The humor of the film and incredible set design, makeup, and costumes make this a favorite for adults and children alike. Its dark humor and overall message makes the perfect film to play for the kids on your tablet or laptop during the trip to Grandma’s if you have DirecTV on demand or Netflix.

A Christmas Story
Many people don’t know that the now classic A Christmas Story, which follows little Ralphie’s quest for a Red Ryder BB gun, is actually based on short stories that appear in the book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd. Thanks to 24-hour marathons on TNT and TBS almost everyone in America now knows the Parker family and all of their eccentric hijinks. The film had a relatively fine run in theaters, but it’s a film that reached iconic status in the years following its theatrical run due to the aforementioned TV marathons. Almost anyone now knows never to lick a frozen pole, that you can in fact shoot your eye out with a BB gun, and that “fragile” has nothing to do with Italy.

Visit Kate on Twitter @Kateevoss

Always in spirit....

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