5 to Find: New crop of films based on books
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Thursday, March 07, 2013
3/07/13 at 8:59 AM
The last two Academy Awards shared one unusual thing in common. Of the nine films nominated for best picture each of those years, six were based on what the Academy likes to call "previously published materials."
Sometimes this can mean magazine articles, plays or other film scripts, but usually it refers to books.
A good many films coming soon to theaters near you in 2013 - or, more likely, that have been announced as being released sometime this year - are based on works of literature, both classic and popular.
To give our readers the chance to get a jump on future discussions of popular culture - such as those conversations that include the question, "Is the film better than the book?" - here are five novels that are "Soon to be a major motion picture!"
'THE GREAT GATSBY'
F. Scott Fitzgerald's tale of love and dreams, betrayal and loss at the height of the Jazz Age has been made into films before - with actors such as Alan Ladd and Robert Redford in the title role - as well as a ballet and an opera. The trailers for Baz Luhrmann's version, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, look suitably opulent. But the novel is the perfect way to experience this story in all its lyrical beauty. Scribners, $15. ("The Great Gatsby" comes to theaters May 10.)
'WORLD WAR Z'
This 2006 novel is actually a follow-up to author Max Brooks' earlier book, "The Zombie Survival Guide." Brooks structured "World War Z" as a kind of oral history of his fictional apocalypse, with first-person accounts of what happened once a pandemic begins with an infected youngster in China and expands throughout the world. Brooks based his novel on extensive research into the ways governments and other organizations might deal with some sort of cataclysmic event - how much of that will remain in the film starring Brad Pitt is anyone's guess. Three Rivers Press, $14,95. ("World War Z" comes to theaters June 21.)
Orson Scott Card's 1985 novel, about the making of a young man into a military superman and his efforts to deal with the consequences of his actions, won most of the major awards for science fiction, spawned numerous sequels and remains one of the most beloved books of the genre for its mix of space-opera fireworks and adolescent soul-searching. The film version will star Asa Butterfield in the title role, along with Harrison Ford. Tor, $6.99. ("Ender's Game" comes to theaters Nov. 1.)
'A MOST WANTED MAN'
John Le Carre's novels of intrigue are usually wonderful tangles of complex plot, all-too-humanly flawed characters and richly evocative prose. Set in post-9/11 Hamburg, Germany, "A Most Wanted Man" is Issa, who claims to be a Chechen Muslim, and he is determined to retrieve a cache of money left by his putative father. Exactly who Issa is - a victim of the "war on terror" or an active participant in it - and what he intends to do makes him a target of various espionage forces. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Willem Dafoe star in the film version. Scribner, $16. ("A Most Wanted Man" is due for release Nov. 28.)
Mark Helprin imagines a very different New York City around the turn of the 20th century, filled with magical elements including a flying horse and larger-than-life people, all to tell the story of a young man named Peter Lake and his fantastic adventures through the various strata of life and the city. It's one of those densely rich cornucopias of incident and character, blending the real and the fantastic - and personally I can't see how Hollywood, even with all its computer-generated glory, can equal the experience of reading this book. But you never know. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16. ("Winter's Tale" release date has not been set.)
Original Print Headline: 5 to Find: New crop of lit-based films