Classic books that deserve new film adaptations

Books have always been a popular source for Hollywood when making new movies, giving fans of the source material and new fans a way to enjoy a well-told story. With social media helping the books grow in popularity, these adaptations are likely to be even more popular in the years to come. While some book-to-movie adaptations take the source material and present it effectively on screen, others may not stay true to the book or capture the heart of the book. All of the movies on this list are books that have already been made into the screen. Some of them are successful, others not, but all could benefit from a new look, and a new adaptation that would introduce them to new audiences. Here are nine classic books that deserve a new movie adaptation.

9 Brave New World (1998 and 2020)

Long before the dystopian book and movie craze, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 book introduced a world where everyone has a pre-created place in the world and must follow the rules of the world in order to live. Leslie Libman and Larry Williams brought it to life with a TV movie in 1998, and David Wiener created a loose adaptation for Peacock in 2020, where it was canceled after one season. Despite its recent failures, the story still fits well with our times and will likely continue to be told in the future. A future adaptation of this could really bring the coldness and dim hope of Huxley’s book to life.


8 1984 (1984)

Michael Radford’s adaptation, released in 1984, is considered a strong adaptation that mostly succeeds in portraying George Orwell’s grim vision of the future, as working-class Winston struggles to maintain his identity in a totalitarian world. The book remains both relevant and popular, with the World Tribune reporting it was a bestseller last year. It’s both a reflection of some aspect of our world and a warning of what might happen; a new film would be particularly timely.

seven Frankenstein (1931 and 2014)

This Mary Shelley novel has had many adaptations, the most popular being the 1931 classic starring Boris Karloff, who created the popular image of Frankenstein’s monster. A more recent version is the 2014 film by Stuart Beattie Me Frankenstein, which received negative reviews and turned the story into a war between angels and demons. According to CinemaBlend, there are still plans for a Frankenstein movie set in Universal’s new universe of their classic monsters. This film is a good opportunity to mix the moral and ethical dilemmas of science with classic horror and monsters.

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6 East of Eden (1955)

This 1955 film, directed by Elia Kazan, focuses on the last part of John Steinbeck’s novel. It stars James Dean in his first major film role and earned him a posthumous Oscar nomination. This version is great enough to stand on its own, but it would be interesting to see how a new take would adapt the story of generational conflict and the balance between good and evil. A new version could also bring the full novel to life, rather than the final part, creating additional depth.

5 Their Eyes Were Looking at God (2005)

Zora Neale Hurston’s novel is directed by Darnell Martin in this TV movie about Janie (Halle Berry) searching for love and identity in the 1920s. They had watered down the novel’s themes of race and identity, but it received mostly positive reviews from audiences. A new release would give a new creative team the opportunity to fully address these issues, which are still relevant today, and let the story itself really shine.

4 Dorian Gray (2009)

This 2009 adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s novel Dorian Gray’s photo is directed by Oliver Parker and brings a horror approach to the story of a young man who stays young and handsome while his portrayal ages and grows monstrous with his actions. The film received average reviews from critics and was not received much better by audiences. Another attempt at adapting this novel could move away from horror and lean more into romance, though the romance of one man and his longing for his own youth, while addressing the perils of society in emphasizing such beauty.

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3 Love in the Time of Cholera (2007)

Mike Newell directed the 2007 film Love in the Time of Cholera, based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It tells the story of Fermina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), a young woman caught in a love triangle in a story that spans from 1880 to 1930. Although visually stunning, the film did not recreate the magical feel of the novel and often felt boring. A new adaptation could benefit from a more fantastical approach, while making the romance fresh and exciting by addressing the dangers of lovesickness.

2 The Three Musketeers (2011)

This Alexandre Dumas classic about four heroes in 17th-century France has seen numerous adaptations, including a TV series that ran from 2014 to 2016 and a 2011 film directed by Paul WS Anderson. Despite a talented cast, the 2011 film received negative reviews and failed to make the source material memorable and enjoyable. This story of justice and action has a classic feel that is still relevant today. Historical dramas have been popular lately, and a new adaptation could breathe some life into this classic tale.

1 The Time Machine (2002)

The most recent film version of this HG Wells novel was directed by Simon Wells and released in 2002. It stars Guy Pearce as Dr Hartdegen, a professor who travels through time and finds himself in a world of rivalries between Eloi and Morlocks. The film would go on to earn $123 million worldwide, but was considered a critical flop, focusing on special effects rather than the humans in the story. A new adaptation would be a good way to combine advances in science with the costs it has on humanity. It could take this ever-present problem and apply it to our time, giving the story more emotion and depth than its previous iteration.

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