When books are engaging, filmmakers inevitably want to try their hand at adapting them for the big screen.
Watching the movie version of a book can be a jarring experience. The three stories in this week’s post are extraordinary examples of film adaptations that expand the viewer’s reading experience. Rather than asking yourself, “Which is better?” think about how they diverge and where they converge. The links to additional resources may give you ideas.
READY PLAYER ONE
Science Fiction by Ernest Cline
In 2024, the world is in terrible shape. Wade Watts’ only escape from his gruesome living conditions is the virtual world. His search for the clues to a puzzle and ultimate prize put him in danger from all sides. Watching him navigate through digital space will keep you on the edge of your seat, as will the amazing visual effects.
NEVER LET ME GO
Dystopian Fiction by Kazuo Ishiguro
The characters in this story have always been told they were special, just not told for what. Figuring out what they are intended for makes the book unputdownable. The movie captures this suspense perfectly. This is a cautionary tale about the morality of bioengineering and the unintended costs of seeming “progress.”
Fiction by Jhumpa Lahiri
Gogol is both Indian and American, as well as named after a Russian writer his father loves. The book and movie shift between the two worlds, geographically and generationally, that Gogol must navigate. This is a classic immigration tale of parents who sacrifice much for their children’s futures and of their children who grow up to be individuals the parents struggle to understand. Their love is both abundant and a given, but it comes with strings.
As you read these titles, consider:
- What internal and external struggles do the characters face? How do they overcome them?
- How does watching the film version of a story enhance our understanding?
Try one of these activities to take your reading to the next level:
- Create an account on IntoFilm.org and download the Ready Player One film guide. You’ll find questions to discuss, activities to engage in, and more film recommendations.
- Watch these different TED Talks that relate to bioengineering. After reading Never Let Me Go, how do you feel about it?
- After reading The Namesake, do you want to know more about where names—specifically last names—come from? Check out Wonderopolis.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.
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Photo of Carol Jago provided by ©Andrew Collings