Off the Shelf: Books adapted to the silver screen

This fall, the selection of films based on books is certainly diverse, with a large crop of adaptations of classics.

This fall, the selection of films based on books is certainly diverse, with possibly the largest crop of adaptations of classics in some time.

Here is a sample of recent releases and what’s coming soon:

–– The Paperboy (starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey), based on the book by Pete Dexter.

A reporter returns to his Florida hometown to investigate a case involving a death row inmate.  Kidman’s portrayal of a woman who writes letters to inmates created a major buzz when the film premiered at Cannes to a standing ovation.  (Oct.)

–– Cloud Atlas (starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon), based on the book by David Mitchell.

An exploration of how the actions and consequences of individual lives affect one another throughout the past, the present, and the future. (Oct.)

–– Wuthering Heights (starring Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, Paul Hilton), based on the book by Emily Brontë.

This British adaptation is the latest interpretation of Brontë’s classic novel, in which a poor boy of unknown origins is rescued from poverty and taken in by the Earnshaw family where he develops an intense relationship with his young foster sister, Cathy. (Oct.)

–– Anna Karenina (starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson) based on the book by Leo Tolstoy.

What makes this adaptation so unusual is director Joe Wright’s decision to set much of the action inside a theatre. Wright also directed Knightley in Atonement and Pride and Prejudice.  (Nov.)

–– Life of Pi (starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfhan Khan, Tobey Maguire), based on the book by Yann Martel.

Acclaimed director Ang Lee directs this adaptation of Martel’s widely praised novel, which won the 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. (Nov.)

–– Les Misérables (starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe), based on the book by Victor Hugo.

This classic has been going strong for years on the silver screen, but it was its musical adaptation, spanning 21 years on Broadway alone, that brought astounding success. This latest film adaptation is based on the stage musical. (Dec.)

–– On the Road (starring Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Viggo Mortenson), based on the book by Jack Kerouac.

Young writer Sal Paradise has his life shaken by the arrival of free-spirited Dean Moriarty and his girl, Marylou. As they travel across the country, they encounter a mix of people who each impact their journey.  Attempts have been made to film Kerouac’s beat classic in the past, but this is the first to make it to the screen. (Dec.)

–– Jack Reacher (starring Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike), based on the book One Shot by Lee Child.

Former military investigator Jack Reacher goes back in to action to prove that an erstwhile military sniper is not responsible for gunning down five innocent people. (Dec.)

Also watch for Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, scheduled to be released in spring 2013.

–– Maureen Curry is the chief librarian at the Vernon branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.