Top 10 Classic Novels (That Filmmakers Won’t Leave Alone)

#10 The Great Gatsby

You’re probably already aware that Aussie director and all round good bloke Baz Luhrmann is currently filming a new version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as love interest Daisy Buchanan and Tobey Maguire as the novel’s narrator, Nick Carraway.

You’re probably also aware of the seventies film with Robert Redford back before he looked liked Anne Robinson. But what about the 1926 silent version? The 1949 Elliot Nugent film with Alan Ladd? The 2007 Korean adaptation? Or the modernised version G, in which Gatbsy is a hip-hop mogul seeking to win back his lady love, Sky? Bet you didn’t know about all those, DID YOU? (If you did, we’re very sorry for shouting).

#9 Pride and Prejudice

Apparently in 2009, Elton John’s Rocket Productions announced that they were planning an adaptation of Jane Austen’s most famous novel, entitled Pride and Predator. Sadly, that film has disappeared off the radar. But luckily for you, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is still set for 2013 (despite the IMDB board for this project featuring such topics as “NO NO NO. GARBAGE” and the slightly more subtle “Please do not make this! Th death of film is nigh![sic]”).

The book has been filmed most famously on two occasions: once in 1940, starring Greer Garson and once in 2005 starring Keira Knightley (sadly we can’t mention the Colin Firth version, because that was on the TV – what are we, Best For TV?). The novel also famously inspired the Bridget Jones series, Bollywood rendering Bride and Prejudice and some film from 2003 set in Utah in which Will Darcy is a “haughty businessman”. Ha ha that sounds mad.

#8 Wuthering Heights

So the new film is out on Friday and we here at Best For TV are very excited. Director Andrea Arnold has showcased her talent in Fish Tank and, from the trailer, this new adaptation of the novel looks to be pretty exciting and all modern and cool and stuff. In all seriousness, there is a valid argument to be made for remakes of classic works that tap into the spirit of their time. So a 2011 version should accordingly feature plenty of sexting and Heathcliff planking constantly.

In the past, Wuthering Heights has made it onto the big screen a total of seven times, including one from 1920 (described bizarrely as “Emily Brontë’s tremendous story of hate” – think you’re missing the point there, guys) and the famous Laurence Olivier film from 1939.

Look out for BFF’s upcoming film project, Wuthering Heights High, where young rebel Heath Cliff joins a new school and finds himself an outcast. Only the vivacious head cheerleader Kat will give him the time of day. And soon their friendship turns into a tremendous story of hate.

#7 Great Expectations

We reported recently about some new photos of Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham in Mike Newell’s upcoming film. We also reported that a TV version with Gillian Anderson is also coming out in 2012. SO WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?

All in all there have been eight film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ novel, including the 1946 David Lean version and the 1998 modern-day take on the novel starring Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow. There was also a film of the same name made in 2008, but that’s a very loose adaptation of the novel which is mostly about a handkerchief.

#6 Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment is about a man who commits a crime and is subsequently punished for it. NICE AND SIMPLE. But according to Wikipedia, there have been over 25 film adaptations of the novel over the years. Twenty five! And then more as well! That’s so many! Obvs, we would love to take you through each individual film in detail but what are we, Best For Crime and Punishment Film Adaptations? No. So we’ve selected one that we thought was extra special and deserving of your time: Crime and Punishment in Suburbia, which starred Mad Men‘s Vincent Kartheiser. You can look it up yourself.

#5 A Christmas Carol

There have been about twenty film adaptations of this Christmassy classic over the years. The novel tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, who’s always hatin’ on everything. Then he’s visited by three ghosts who – oh come people, you know the story. WE KNOW YOU KNOW THE STORY.

There have been loads of great film adaptations of this including the 1951 film with Alistair Sim in the lead role; the modernised Scrooged where Bill Murray is a soulless TV executive; and – of course – The Muppets Christmas Carol, largely considered to be one of the best films of all time involving the acting of a green sock.

#4 Romeo and Juliet

No it’s not a novel. SO SUE US. There’s literally nothing you can do about Romeo and Juliet being on this list. There are about seven thousand film versions of this play, perhaps most famously Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 adaptation starring Leo and Claire.

Carlo Carlei’s new film of this classic novel will be out next year, starring Hailee “I was in True Grit when I was but a wee bairn” Steinfeld and Douglas Booth, who is playing Pip in the TV version of Great Expectations. He’s at it all over the place isn’t he?! Someone stop him before this all gets out of hand!!

#3 Anna Karenina

Here’s another novel that Keira Knightley’s getting her paws all over. Joe Wright – who has already worked with Knightley on Pride and Prejudice and Atonement and omg why don’t you two just get married already – is directing a new version of the classic Russian novel which will star Knightley as the title character, and Matthew Macfadyen and Jude Law as other people. But someone should really tell Joe that this film has already been filmed for the cinema ten times – including one Egyptian version retitled The River of Love.

#2 Oliver Twist

Charles Dickens get off this list you saucy devil! We’re only kidding – you can stay. You’ve earned it! Oliver Twist has been filmed about sixteen times for the big screen and that doesn’t even include the musical Oliver! which is full of songs and joy. Although, the boy who played Oliver in that is maybe the father of Michael Jackson’s children. Now try watching that film again with the same wide-eyed innocence. We dares you!

#1 Jane Eyre

And so we come to the end of this list. It’s the end of the road, kids. And taking the top spot is Jane Eyre. Bleurghhhhh. Booorrrriinnngggg. Not really. But this book is a little bit of a snoozefest, especially compared to Wuthering Heights which is all sexy and exciting. We probably don’t need to remind you but this film has been made about 12 times for the cinema, including the 2011 film starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska.

“I’m getting anxious! There’s been too much time since the last Jane Eyre adaptation! I think I’m having heart palpitations!” – everybody, all the time

Are there any classic novels that have been repeatedly molested by Hollywood that we’ve missed? Let us know! Down below!

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