Whenever a book achieves a certain level of success, it is near-inevitable that it will shortly see an adaptation to the big screen. Some, such as the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises, have transformed our relationship with cinematic series, whilst the Marvel Cinematic Universe has rewritten the rules of the Blockbuster. Of course, there are then countless others which fall flat and die on the road to success. Twilight was a massive success, but has no legacy, and As I Lay Dying and Batman v. Superman have received nothing but cries of anguish from infuriated patrons. Nonetheless, where there is talent, there is hope. Here are five books which I think deserve the silver screen treatment.
1) Stoner – John Williams
Republished by Vintage in 2013 after being unjustly unloved for 48 years, Stoner has been restored to the public consciousness as a lost gem and an iconic piece of fictional biography; featuring some of the most soul-wrenching and beautiful writing you’ll ever read. Telling the story of a downtrodden and underappreciated academic in Missouri, Stoner’s gorgeous prose is married with rich characters and serves as a fascinating meditation on the human condition for those just beyond the realms of success and happiness. With the right cast and the care and attention this story deserves, an adaptation would likely prove to be a serious Oscar contender.
2)The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Here’s a novel which seems to be destined for a big screen adaptation, and yet is still waiting for one. This massively successful novel, set primarily within a picturesque private university campus in Vermont, is an ideal piece of potential cinema. By amassing a series of dark and often disturbing characters, all of whom willing to go above and beyond the realms of depravity in order to obtain their prize, Tartt was able to create one of the most notable inversions of the whodunnit genre – the it is only a matter of time before The Secret History receives the big-screen treatment it deserves.
3) Rendezvous With Rama – Arthur C. Clarke
Despite being authored by the arguable king of contemporary science fiction, for years this film has languished in development hell, with no reels in sight. Nevertheless, the cries for a film adaptation still ring out, and for very good reasons. Rendezvous With Rama is a masterpiece of extraterrestrial world-building, effortlessly presenting to the reader the spectacle of an organic alien world, and re-capturing a spirit of wonder that has been sadly lacking from many recent science fiction films, whilst also playing true to Clarke’s devotion to hard science fiction. Many have attributed the lack of development to be down to script problems, with many fearing that an adaptation of Rama would lead to a production which shies away from Clarke’s original intentions, however, if the eventual writer is able to rise above the need for romance, villains, and action for the sake of action, and focus instead on the sense of discovery synonymous with then novel, then we could have a true classic on our hands.
(4) Logicomix – Apostles Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou & (5) Feynman – Jim Ottaviani
The academic biopic is a staple of the film industry, with The Imitation Game, Creation, The Man Who Knew Infinity and The Theory of Everything to name but a handful.
As such, it’s high time that we cross over into the territory of two of the leading figures of their respective fields from the 20th century: Bertrand Russell and Richard Feynman. The former a philosopher, logician, public intellectual and tireless campaigner for social justice, the latter, arguably the most important physicist since Einstein and perhaps the greatest communicator of science in history.
Both of these people represented the very peak of their disciplines, and both graphic novels brilliantly succeed in bringing them back to life, with rich and honest characterisation. These are two people, and two stories, which need to receive the big-screen treatment they deserve.