Harry Potter Series Tops Best Book-to-Film Adaptation Poll

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Photo: Scholastic / Warner Bros. / Open Book Society

 

It’s always a risky venture adapting any book into a feature film, and none more so with globally loved books where millions of readers the world over know inside out and back-to-front. There’s always intense debate over who is cast, what is include and what is cut, who is directing it and what does the set look like… is everything we see on screen how we imagined it in our minds while pouring through the pages, and all of this usually occurs at just the announcement of a movie adaptation, let alone the analysis, discussions, and passionate pronouncements of praise or outcry once the film is released. It is so easy for things to go so very wrong, but a number of times, the stars align and you get a successful adaptation, which appeals to the majority of fans (it’s impossible to please everyone).

One of those that gets it right is the Harry Potter franchise, so it should come as a surprise to, well no one, to discover that the eight films of J.K. Rowling’s 7-book series has topped a new Samsung Electronics poll for the best ever book-to-film adaptation.

The Harry Potter series follows the adventures of boy wizard, Harry Potter and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, as they fight against the forces of evil (Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters). While some of the movies do better at adapting the novels than others (the third novel/film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is probably the worst), the overall impression of the franchise is extremely positive. The casting was spot on, the look and feel of the films was great, the biggest issue I’ve seen is what was cut from the films, though with some of the later books easily surpassing 600+ pages, plotlines did have to be sacrificed for the sake of timing.

Rounding out the top three was prison drama, The Shawshank Redemption, based on the novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by horror King Stephen King and Peter Jackson’s adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

With the good, comes the bad, and topping the list of worst big screen adaptations was the Twilight films, followed by the adaptation of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

Firstly, the worst. I have to admit that I have neither read nor seen a single Twilight book or film, so can’t really judge on whether these films were a success representation of the books or not. Strangely enough, I recently had a conversation with a colleague in the past two weeks about this very topic and she was quite unimpressed with the first two films that she could not even bring herself to watch the final films as they had butchered the storyline so much. Regarding The Da Vinci Code, I have to wholeheartedly agree. Like most people in 2003, I devoured the book. Yes it wasn’t the greatest thing ever written, but it knew how to hook you in and want to keep reading. However, the movie was atrocious. For a book that was so suspenseful and caused many a late night reading till you feel asleep because you had to know what happened next, the movie was one of the most boring I have ever had to sit through. I actually leant over to my best friend while we were watching it and said, “I am so bored right now.” It definitely deserves its spot on the worst adaptations list.

Now the best. I’m a massive Potter fan and loved Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Again like with the Potter films, a number of storylines had to be deleted or abridged in the Lord of the Rings (and even so the three films were pretty lengthy), but they got the cast so, so, so right, and New Zealand as Middle Earth was an inspired choice and worked perfectly. I now have difficulty imagining anything else when reading the novels. The Shawshank Redemption… two names says it all. Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.

What do you think of the list? Do you think they got it right? What adaptations are missing? Hit us up in the comments below.

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Clare Sidoti

Clare Sidoti is 4 Your Excitement's Editor-at-Large. Clare has a BA (Theatre and Film Studies) from the University of New South Wales, Australia and an MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights from the University of Essex, UK. She currently works for an NGO that runs human rights training in the Asia Pacific region. You can find her on twitter with her eclectic musings on the arts, entertainment and human rights. Some of her favourite topics to cover include Darren Criss, Chris Colfer, Glee and Star Wars.
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