Film adaptations are a tricky thing: they can be complete disasters that shame the source material, or they can leave you thinking about the original content in a whole new way. This problem is compounded when filmmakers attempt modern adaptations of classic literature; not only are they bringing a beloved story to life, they’re turning it on its head and coming up with something completely new. When it succeeds, it’s revolutionary. When it fails, you hear the phrase we all have come to know: the book was better. Here are an assortment of modern adaptions from classic literature that show how versatile those old stories can truly be.
1. 10 Things I Hate About You
Who knew that William Shakespeare translated so well to a high school setting? This fun and breezy retelling of The Taming Of The Shrew keeps the fundamental themes intact and manages to poke fun at the Bard himself.
2. Apocalypse Now
When it comes to modern adaptations from classic literature, you don’t get much more profound and prolific than this version of Heart of Darkness set during the Vietnam War.
2a. Heart Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse
Behind the scenes documentaries are a personal favorite, and this is one of the best. See the disaster that unfolded during the production of this classic war film, the dangers that plagued the cast, and how close Apocalypse Now came to being just a pipe dream.
3. Notes From The New World
Modern adaptations from classic literature face the challenge of location: how close should they stick to the original? This version of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic Notes from the Underground turns the idea on its head by moving the whole tale from the dark streets of Russia to the sun-drenched shores of Los Angeles. It’s a daring move, and one which pays off in spades.
3a. Dostoyevsky Reimagined: The Making Of Notes From The New World
Once you’ve seen this revolutionary take on classic literature, take a look behind the scenes and see some of the problems that come with modern adaptions from classic literature in film-making (although we’re pretty sure most filmmakers don’t have to contend with mysterious ancient cults). This film will provide a compelling and fascinating look at getting funding for a movie — and what happens when every problem you can imagine (and a few you can’t) seems to haunt a film.
4. Hollow Man
Kevin Bacon stars in this terrifying twist on modern adaptations from classic literature. The Invisible Man enters the modern age — and the results are bad news for everyone who dares to experiment with science.
5. The Lion King
Who said modern adaptations from classic literature are just for adults? This Disney classic is an animal retelling of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet that’s far better than some of the live-action versions. Plus, most versions don’t have a soundtrack you can sing along to.