Adaptations don’t always live up to the books they’re based on, but it’s an amazing feeling when they do. These 25 book adaptations are absolutely stellar.
All book lovers know the feeling of finding out that a favorite book is being adapted for the screen. On the one hand, it’s an exciting moment. If handled properly, it can provide multiple formats with which to immerse ourselves in a world and characters that we love. On the other hand, it’s nerve-wracking. With any attempt to adapt a novel, there’s always a chance that the final product will be disappointing. And no one wants to see one of their favorite books tarnished by a poor replication of it.
There are plenty of things that can go awry with book-to-screen adaptations. For one thing, there’s always the possibility that the content will be changed or cut in ways that fans don’t approve of. Many films exclude scenes from books in order to fit into a certain runtime. And sometimes, filmmakers attempt to make the story their own, something that can be upsetting to fans who want to see the original story brought to life.
Thankfully, there are also plenty of successful adaptations to make up for the bad ones. Many writers and directors do strive to stick to an author’s story when converting it from the page to the screen. And sometimes, filmmakers and showrunners are even talented enough to make the story their own while preserving the most important parts of it. Those are often the best adaptations.
Best TV and movie book adaptations
So next time you discover that one of your favorite books or series is being turned into a movie or television show, don’t fret. There are plenty of adaptations that turn out to be just as good as the books they’re based on—if not better.
These are 25 of the book adaptations we think lived up to their book counterparts.
The Lord of the Rings
Taking on the task of adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy is no small feat, but director Peter Jackson recreated Tolkien’s world admirably. Jackson’s take on Middle-earth has become almost as associated with the classic fantasy story as Tolkien’s, and it’s easy to understand why.
The vast, beautiful sets featured throughout The Lord of the Rings film trilogy capture Tolkien’s gorgeous descriptions of Middle-earth flawlessly, bringing to life the cities and landscapes he created in his books. It’s hard to imagine Hobbiton, Rivendell, or Mordor looking any differently than they do in the films, and that’s truly a credit to the set design.
But the sets aren’t the only reason that these films do Tolkien’s novels justice. The casting and writing also make the movie versions of The Lord of the Rings as epic as the books they were based off of. Every character in the films—from Elijah Wood’s Frodo Baggins to Sir Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, to Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn—remains true to the ones in Tolkien’s books, breathing life into them without changing them.
And though the filmmakers did make a few changes to the overall plot, the story never strays far from what Tolkien intended it to be. Of course, the length of the films helps with this. Each adaptation leaves enough time to include the crucial elements of the story, allowing the films to stick as closely to the novels as possible.
Jackson’s films are nearly as magical as Tolkien’s books, and it’s hard to imagine what the reboot television series on the horizon will look like. Hopefully, it will honor The Lord of the Rings‘ source material as much as the original adaptations did.