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David Nicholls’ Five Favorite Novel to Screen Adaptations

Updated February 25, 2011

In addition to Jane Eyre, what other classic novels have made great films. We asked Novelist/Screenwriter David Nicholls.

David Nicholls: Novelist/Screenwriter
Oil! (1927)/There Will Be Blood (2007)
Heart of Darkness (1902)/Apocalypse Now (1979)
Far From The Madding Crowd (1874/ 1967)
Brideshead Revisited (1945/1981)
Barry Lyndon (1844/1975)
David Nicholls: Novelist/Screenwriter

© Photo by Joss Barratt, Stay Still Ltd.

David Nicholls: Novelist/Screenwriter

Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation of Jane Eyre is the most recent adaptation––more than 45 so far––of Charlotte Bronte’s celebrated novel. What about other novels turned into films? We asked acclaimed novelist and screenwriter David Nicholls, who adapted his own bestseller One Day for Focus Features (due in theaters July 10), to pick five of his favorite films adapted from classic novels. As both a novelist and screenwriter, Nicholls intimately understands the complexity of turning a novel into a screenplay. Having started out as an actor he also knows what it means to embody a text on screen. He’s written three novels––Starter for Ten (2003), The Understudy (2005), and One Day (2009)––and has adapted both Starter for Ten and One Day for film, in addition to penning a number of screenplays for both television and film.




The Real Places of Jane Eyre's World

Updated February 24, 2011

Jane Eyre’s production designer Will Hughes-Jones and location manager Giles Edleston worked hard to find just the right places to capture the romantic landscape of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece.

The Moor House
The Moor House (2)
Thornfield Hall
Thornfield Hall, after the fire
Jane's School
Thornfield Hall Country Side
The Moors
The Moors (2)
The Moor House

The Moor House

Actual Place: White Edge Lodge

In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë wrote of Moor House, “the grey, small, antique structure, with its low roof, its latticed casements, its mouldering walls, its avenue of aged firs--all grown aslant under the stress of mountain winds; its garden, dark with yew and holly––and where no flowers but of the hardiest species would bloom--found a charm both potent and permanent.” While the house at White Edge Lodge differs slightly from Bronte’s vision, it too has “a charm both potent and permanent.” The building, which lays in White Edge Moor, originally served as a gamekeeper’s cottage.




Jane Eyre and 10 Other Scary Houses Movies

Updated February 23, 2011

Something’s not quite right up at Thornfield Hall, as Mia Wasikowska discovers in Cary Fukunaga’s new adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel. Consider these other films where something is not quite right at home.

Jane Eyre and the World of Scary Houses
There’s No Place Like a Haunted Home
The Innocents: Henry James’ Turn on Jane Eyre
The Haunting: The Science of Scary
The Shining: The Places that Drive You Mad
Demon Seed: The Ghost in the Machine
Suspiria: A Maze in Real Estate
The Others: Everyone Haunts Someone
The Orphanage: Horror Stripped Bare
Safe: Suburban Scary
The Winchester Trilogy: American Fear
Gravity was Everywhere Back Then: DIY Scary
Jane Eyre and the World of Scary Houses

Jane Eyre and the World of Scary Houses

While not an overt ghost story, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, influenced by the haunted house tales of its own era, casts a shadow over a subsequent century of them. Throughout the novel, there is much talk of ghosts as when the housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax tells Jane about a part of the mysterious manse, “if there were a ghost at Thornfield Hall, this would be its haunt.” A modern revival of gothic storytelling has meant that some of today’s cinema is very much in keeping with the issues dramatized by Bronte within Thornfield Hall. But as technology has marched forward, new inflections have been placed on the haunted house. “I often say that haunted house novels are a near-universally overlooked form of architectural writing,” quipped speculative architecture critic Geoff Manaugh in an interview.




Jane Eyre, Superstar: From Brontë to Fukunaga

Updated February 17, 2011

Since Charlotte Brontë brought her heroine to life in 1847, everyone––filmmakers, artists, playwrights, cartoonists––have wanted to recreate her in their own imagination.

Jane: For the 21st Century
Jane as Orphan
Jane: A Story for Every Generation
Jane: The Passion of the Fans
Jane: A Proto Marxist?
Jane: On the Stage
Jane: A Poor Person's Passion
Jane: A Working-Class Hero
Jane: A Drawing Room Romance
Jane: The Matinee Idol
Jane: A Horror Drama
Jane: Strong, But Reserved
Jane: A Thoroughly Modern Heroine
Jane: Without Jane
Jane: A Zombie Jane
Jane: A Graphic Approach
Jane: A Comical Turn
Jane: A Teen Dream
Jane: For Every Artist
Jane: For Every Imagination
Jane: Stamps of Approval
Jane: Everlasting
Jane: For the 21st Century

Jane: For the 21st Century

Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, 2011, Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender.

In making a new version of Jane Eyre, director Cary Fukunaga knew that Charlotte Brontë ’s novel had been re-interpreted by filmmakers, playwrights, illustrators, writes and artists for nearly a century and a half. As a kid, Robert Stevenson’s 1944 Jane Eyre was one of his favorite movies, but when it came to making his own version, he told MovieLine.com that he went back to the source: “I’m a stickler for raw authenticity, so I’ve spent a lot of time rereading the book and trying to feel out what Charlotte Brontë was feeling when she was writing it. That sort of spookiness that plagues the entire story…there’s been something like 24 adaptations, and it’s very rare that you see those sorts of darker sides. They treat it like it’s just a period romance, and I think it’s much more than that.”




The Eagle Eye of Anthony Dod Mantle

Updated February 09, 2011

Academy-Award wining cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle captured the visceral reality of the fight in Kevin MacDonald’s The Eagle. But his own career has been more journey than struggle.

Anthony Dod Mantle | Making The Eagle Visually Real
Anthony Dod Mantle | From London to Denmark
Anthony Dod Mantle | Dogme 95
Anthony Dod Mantle | Madness and Sadness
Anthony Dod Mantle | From the Apocalypse to Mumbai
Anthony Dod Mantle | From Africa to the Highlands
Anthony Dod Mantle | Making The Eagle Visually Real

© Photo by Matthew Nettheim

Anthony Dod Mantle | Making The Eagle Visually Real

Anthony Dod Mantle (l.) with director Kevin MacDonald (Photo by Matt Nettheim)

Much of the epic vision of Kevin MacDonald’s Roman adventure comes from the work of film director of photography (d.p.) Anthony Dod Mantle. Dod Mantle, who’d won an Oscar of his work on Slumdog Millionaire, can pretty much pick and chose his projects. His decision to add his vision to The Eagle came from both a love of the director and the material. Dod Mantle and MacDonald, who’d worked together previously on The Last King of Scotland, were untied in creating a powerfully visual movie. The director and his cinematographer worked out a style using multiple cameras and Steadicam so that, as producer Duncan Kenworthy emphasizes, “the audience will feel that they’re right there in the thick of it.” As Dod Mantle explains, “we couldn’t have carefully composed set-ups with the multiple cameras, given the unpredictable weather we’d be facing on location.” Dod Mantle’s kinetic camera style allowed him to capture the immediacy of man and the elements, an aspect that revealed the personal nature of this story. For him, “The first thing I look for is always a story that touches me. The Eagle is character-driven, about men seeing their worlds and the world as a whole.”