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10 Screenplay Adaptations That Did Justice to the Source Material

Part of what makes art so unique is the ability to compare and contrast various adaptations of the same story. Whether it’s a classic, a contemporary piece, or a repeat of a story we’ve heard a million times, that’s the beauty of art. However, as we all know, some adaptations are better than others.

Viewing a movie that presents a fresh take on a well-known tale provides an opportunity to explore the viewpoints and sentiments of others. Thus, it’s best to appreciate some of the strongest in the adaptation world. So, let’s discuss ten screenplay adaptations that did justice to the source material.

Still from 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring'. Photo credit: IMDb

Logline - Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters - four young women, each determined to live life on her terms.

Who doesn’t love Little Women? While the 1868 novel is one of the best from its time, many argue the 2019 film is one of the most vital adaptations. There’s a lot to love and appreciate from Little Women, including the directing, acting, and story—definitely a must-watch.

Logline - A little boy has been held captive in a room with his mother since birth, so he has never known the world outside.

Few films are as emotionally impactful as the 2015 film Room. While the 2010 novel gained traction after winning the 2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize regional prize (Caribbean and Canada), the film is equally as impressive, if not more.

Logline - In the Fall of 1963, a Korean War veteran and criminal pleads insanity and is admitted to a mental institution, where he rallies up the scared patients against the oppressive nurse.

Everyone agrees that Jack Nicholson’s most robust performance is One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. As great as the film is, it wouldn’t exist without the 1962 novel that deserves the same recognition as the film.

Logline - Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer in Depression-era Alabama, defends a Black man against an undeserved rape charge and tries to educate his young children against prejudice.

Who hasn’t read To Kill A Mocking Bird? There are so many iconic adaptations today, and To Kill A Mocking Bird is one of the most notable. While the book is as notable as it is, the film is almost as impressive, which is a lot considering how strong the book is.

Logline - After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman in her sixties embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.

I vividly remember the impact Nomadland had on me a few years. It’s one of those films that’s so strong, you hope there’s another variation out there for you to digest. Can’t recommend the book and film enough.

Logline - A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.

Arguably the easiest answer to the question, The Lord of the Rings franchise, specifically The Fellowship of the Ring did more justice to the source material than probably anything else. It still holds up to this day.

Logline - A noble family becomes embroiled in a war for control over the galaxy's most valuable asset while its heir becomes troubled by visions of a dark future.

Who knew a Dune Adaptation could be done? While we wait for part two, it’s remarkable what Denis Villeneuve accomplished in 2021 with Dune Part One. I can’t wait for the sequel and the book is a must-read if you’re a Sci-Fi fan.

Logline - Don Vito Corleone, head of a mafia family, decides to hand over his empire to his youngest son, Michael. However, his decision unintentionally puts the lives of his loved ones in grave danger.

For an adaptation that’s better than the source material, we have The Godfather, which you can throw its sequel in as well. While the book is strong, it’s hard to compete with what many consider as the best film ever made.

Logline - Young Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto are swept away by a tornado from their Kansas farm to the magical Land of Oz and embark on a quest with three new friends to see the Wizard, who can return her to her home and fulfill the others' wishes.

Who hasn’t seen The Wizard of Oz? Though many have seen the film, not enough people recognize the children’s story from 1900. Obviously it’s hard to compare the two, but it’s worth reading!

Logline - For several years, two convicts form a friendship, seeking consolation and, eventually, redemption through essential compassion.

The Shawshank Redemption is a heart-wrenching story that features some of the strongest performances in film history. It’s my favorite Stephen King adaptation and I go back and forth from the film and novella.


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