Every August 9 on Book Lover's Day, bibliophiles around the world celebrate their love of the written word. Some book lovers celebrate by sending their friends copies of their favorite works of literature. Others donate to libraries. And some just stay home organizing their own collections. This year we're marrying our love of books and movies by revisiting some of our favorite novels and then watching them brought to life as movies by remarkable filmmakers.
Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
Jane Austen’s Emma | Autumn de Wilde’s EMMA.
Before it was published, Jane Austen confessed that with her new novel Emma, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” In creating her adaptation EMMA., director Autumn de Wilde empathized with Austen’s sentiment. “I wanted to bring out the humor that I saw in the writing and physicalize it," de Wilde explained. "I wanted to poke fun at human nature and the hubris of youth.” In the film, the "handsome, clever, and rich" young woman of the novel's first line soon becomes a victim of her own best intentions. In a delicious world of candy-colored sets and smart outfits, Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy) directs the lives of everyone around her, from her best friend Harriet Smith (Mia Goth) to her father (Bill Nighy)—only to learn she can’t control her own heart. In finding the sweet spot between “irony and earnestness,” EMMA., according to Smithsonian Magazine, “is not just one of the most stylish Austen films in recent memory—it's also one of the most faithful.”
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice | Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice
After making the cold connection between matrimony and money in the first line of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen delivers a warm-hearted love story. In adapting the story to his film Pride & Prejudice, Joe Wright admittedly became “obsessed with the novel…I was completely absorbed by Austen's acute observations, by the way she studied people’s social interactions and emotions so closely and carefully. She seemed to me to be incredibly modern in a way.” Taking his cue from Austen’s style, Wright created what USA Today calls “a stellar adaptation, bewitching the viewer completely and incandescently with an exquisite blend of emotion and wit.” With Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Knightley, the film’s blend of cinematic realism and heartfelt romanticism make “the past feel as swirling and alive as the present,” notes Entertainment Weekly.
The play—for which Briony had designed the posters, programmes and tickets, constructed the sales booth out of a folding screen tipped on its side, and lined the collection box in red crêpe paper—was written by her in a two-day tempest of composition, causing her to miss breakfast and a lunch.
Ian McEwan’s Atonement | Joe Wright’s Atonement
The opening line of Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement subtly reminds readers of the way stories create their own obsessive reality. In bringing the novel to the screen, director Joe Wright wanted the act of storytelling to be a consistent theme. Atonement "never loses sight of its literary origins," The New York Times explains. "The first thing the viewer hears is a typewriter clacking." As the story goes on, the young Briony (in an Academy Award®-nominated performance by Saoirse Ronan) scripts a lie that sweeps up both her sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and Cecilia's would-be beau (James McAvoy) into a cinematic epic that moves from the genteel English countryside to the horrors of World War II. “It's fitting, somehow, that a novel so devoted to the precision and passionate love of language should be captured in a film that is almost too exquisite for words,” adds The Washington Post.
The monster showed up just after midnight.
Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls | J. A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls
Patrick Ness’ illustrated novel A Monster Calls begins with a declarative statement that blossoms into a story of fantastic proportions. What follows in both the novel and J.A. Bayona’s film A Monster Calls—whose screenplay Ness also wrote—is a dazzling mix of fantasy and drama. In the story, a young boy named Conor (Lewis MacDougall), who is trying to make sense of his mother (Felicity Jones) being very sick, conjures up a monstrous tree (voiced by Liam Neeson). In bringing the book to the screen, Bayona wanted to highlight the power of the imagination to both create new worlds and explain our own. “To me, it’s interesting to use fantasy to understand reality,” Bayona explains, “He [Conor] needs to tell the truth and he tells the truth by storytelling.” Bustle exclaims, “A Monster Calls Is A Book-To-Movie Done Right” for its ability to connect mind-blowing fantasy with real emotion.
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre | Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre
The undramatic opening line of Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre resonates as the story continues and the young heroine finds herself having to travel long distances on foot to find her place in the world. Indeed, the beginning of Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation Jane Eyre connects with the ironic first line with Jane (Mia Wasikowska) not so much walking as running across the moors to escape one more home that has proven inhospitable. After looking at various versions of Brontë’s classic novel, Screenrant concluded that “no other [adaption] has captured the essence of the novel the way that the 2011 version has. From Wasikowska as Jane to Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester and Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax, “This cast cannot be matched” notes Screenrant.