Clapham Christian Classical School

Clapham Journal

Great Literature in Film

by Heather Hagenberg, Director of Administration and Admissions


Around this time last year my husband and I learned that Hollywood would be ending 2012 with the release of, “Anna Karinena,” “The Hobbit,” “Les Misérables,” and “The Great Gatsby” (eventually delayed to release in 2013). With this knowledge came a rather interesting New Year’s resolution for the two of us. We traded the typical stocking stuffers for copies of these great books and agreed we would not attend the premieres until the books were read (or re-read).


les miserables


Our love for these and other great movie-translated texts left us excited about their mainstream debut.  For the sake of classic literature, we were ecstatic. With the types of movies often advertised these days, it was encouraging to know that countless movie-goers with little to no love for literature would be exposed to the ideas and themes of these timeless works.  Many who will never take the time to pick up Hugo’s lengthy novel may benefit today from his portrayal of the past uprising against the French ruling class.


Hugh Jackman shared the sentiment, “This is something that’s relevant. Classic literature — classic stories like Les Misérables — sticks around for a reason.” The phrase “classic literature” does not often make its way onto the pages of “Entertainment Weekly.”


Of course, on the other side of the coin, we were desperate to take in these novels for ourselves one last time and to attempt to burn into our brains the way we pictured Gatsby and his lavish parties before having our imaginations plundered. We were careful to drink in Tolkein’s descriptions of Kili, Fili, Bombur, Bofur, Bifur, Thorin, Dwalin, Balin, Dori, Ori Nori, Oin, and Gloin, as we knew Peter Jackson’s imagination would paint a vastly different portrait.


It seems to be a widely accepted truism that the movie version of a book is never as good as the book itself, but since movies also can be beautiful and become classics in their own right, I pose this question to the Clapham community:  What movies have you most enjoyed from those that were made from a classic literature?


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