Best Movie & TV Adaptations No One Believed Were Possible

We’ve all heard the saying, “This book isn’t adaptable.” What makes adapting a book difficult is a nuanced question, but there are two obvious reasons a book or series might be considered “unadaptable.” : scope and controversial issues. Books, especially books that are part of a series, can have thousands of pages to tell their stories, while movies only have a few hours and TV shows have a few seasons. There just isn’t enough time to turn most books into compelling stories on the big screen.

The other aspect that often proves difficult is the subject matter of certain books. The expanse of the written word often offers more room to grapple with controversial ideas in a satisfying manner. Books that seem either too long, too weird, or too boring are tagged “unadaptable.” While it may seem impossible for these great books to work on screen, there are many examples of successful films and television shows that adapt books that were originally thought to be non-adaptable. Below are ten films and TV shows that have successfully adapted difficult books.


The Sandman

Neil Gaiman‘s beloved graphic novel finally found a live-action home earlier this year with Netflix’s adaptation. That sandman focuses on Morpheus escaping a hundred-year imprisonment and trying to restore balance to the realm of dreams. The first season adapts the first two volumes of the comic and manages to bring many of the panels to life. The wild imagery of Gaiman’s source material is matched with a visceral adherence to the gothic and fantastical scenes that make the story work.

RELATED: How faithful is ‘The Sandman’ to its source material?

game of Thrones

In retrospect, George RR Martin‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ was the perfect series to be adapted into a TV show, but initially it seemed like the series would never be adapted. game of Thrones is a fantasy tale set in Westeros, where several houses position themselves for control of the Iron Throne. like the books game of Thrones focuses on dozens of different characters with as many storylines. The size of the story seemed to be what kept it from working on screen as there wasn’t enough time to devote to all the different characters. However, the series eventually proved that sentiment wrong, creating a show that spans continents, cutting back and forth to find storylines that at first seem separate but eventually all connect. No list of book-to-screen adaptations would be complete without one game of Throneseven if the end of the series didn’t live up to expectations.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Anthony Burgess‘ 1962 novel seemed too violent to work on the big screen. The story follows Alex (Malcolm McDowell) a leader of a violent gang of “Droogs”, due to their multiple attacks on different individuals. After being caught at the scene of one of his crimes, Alex undergoes an experiment designed to suppress violent behavior. Kubrick brings A Clockwork Orange to the screen by limiting some acts of violence from the novel and focusing more on corruption schemes that lead to violence. The brilliance of this adaptation comes from Kubrick’s ability to bring the book’s slang and excessive violence to a larger audience.

Dune (2021)

All for a long time dune Adjustments seemed doomed to failure. David Lynch and Syfy’s customizations both feel flat. David Lynch tried to cram too much material into a two-hour film, while Syfy stretched the material to fit into a miniseries. Denis Villeneuve bridges the gap between the two adaptations by splitting the book into two films. dune focuses on Paul Atreides’ (Timothy Chalamet), a member of a noble house as he navigates a war on the desert planet of Arrakis for the galaxy’s most precious resource. Through beautiful production design and cinematography, strong pacing and an understanding of the source material, Villeneuve captures the scope and importance of the epic story of dune.

IT (2017)

Similar to Villeneuve dune Adaptation, 2017 IT divides the story into two parts. It is The story revolves around Pennywise the dancing clown (Bill Scarsgard) and his attempt to attack a group of children. This adaptation thrives in her ability to make Pennywise terrifying. The blockbuster mentality made Pennywise’s fantastic elements shine, grow in size, appear in pictures and play against your worst fears. Skarsgård’s performance brings the clown to life, but the entire cast makes the film shine. The film adaptation took the best parts of StephenKing‘s novel with the omission of some problematic aspects, bringing this terrifying tale to life on the big screen.

No Country for Old Men (2007)

The seemingly unfocused structure of No country for old men made it look like it wouldn’t work on the big screen but in the hands of the Coen brothers the story could flourish. No country for old men tells the story of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) and his hunt for a cowboy who stumbled upon $2 million in drug cartel money. No country for old men is not limited to just one perspective, making it a unique challenge for a two-hour film. The film flows through several different perspectives without one overtaking the narrative. While some thought this unconventional structure would work against it No country for old men On the big screen, the Coen brothers made it a major theme of the film that the western landscape was changing for the worse.

The wheel of time

The wheel of time takes place in a world where only women are allowed to perform magic. Moraine (Rosamund Pike) is a powerful Aes Sedai who encounters five young villagers, one of whom could be the legendary “Dragon Reborn”. The wheel of time suffered from a similar problem as Game of Thrones – How could fourteen novels be packed into a television series? The wheel of time The television adaptation solves this problem by using threads from later books earlier in the story and giving more focus to characters. Unlike the first book, Moiraine is used as a point of view character to carry the narrative’s momentum as the show seeks to establish more characters. The first season of The Wheel of time was a great starting point for the adaptation and fans will surely expect that it will continue to improve on the things it did well in season one as it recaptures some of the same satisfying conclusions from the series.

Crash (1996)

After a car accident, Vaughn tries to rekindle his sex life with his wife through the sexual energy generated by car accidents. Yes, you read that correctly. It seemed unlikely that 1996 crash would work on screen due to its provocative subject matter, but the film leans towards its source material, making for an uncomfortable and dialogue-inducing experience. Sex is explicit and constant throughout the film, resulting in an experience that is uncomfortable to watch but true to its source material. crash has gained a cult following over the years since its initial publication due to its uncompromising adaptation of the book.

Cloud Atlas (2012)

Make up six separate short stories cloud atlas‘ novel, which made it a unique challenge for the Wachowski‘s adaptation. The stories are too short to work as full hour-long episodes, and arguably too dense to convert into fifteen minutes of screen time for a movie. The Wachowskis made the structure work on the big screen by editing the six different stories together, unlike the novel, which tells each of them individually. The result is a more emotional connection to each of the storylines as the stories all rise and fall at the same time. The structure of the book instead emphasizes the bigger picture of each story as you read them in order. cloud atlas is a perfect example of why experimenting when customizing difficult text can be a good thing.

Lolita (1962)

The second Kubrick film on this list, lolita delve into the disturbing perspective of a sex offender. In adapting the novel, Kubrick was forced to remove almost all explicit sex scenes from the story. In the film, the novel’s most disturbing moments either occur off-screen or are drastically altered. However, Kubrick is still able to use subtext to his advantage as the film never romanticizes the damage done to him lolita. Best Movie & TV Adaptations No One Believed Were Possible

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