Girl Power: 20 Great Book-to-Film Adaptations

This list features book-to-film adaptations where either the film director or book author (or both) was female. This list excludes Jane Austen & Bronte sistersadaptations [1] to draw attention to other novels/stories. In no particular order:

1)  To Kill a Mockingbird (1962): Harper Lee, author

2) The Virgin Suicides (1999): Sofia Coppola, director

3) The Talented Mr Ripley (1999): Patricia Highsmith, author

4) Chocolat (2000): Joanne Harris, author

5) American Psycho (2000): Mary Harron, director

6) Gone with the Wind (1939), Margaret Mitchell, author

7) Rebecca (1940): Daphne du Maurier, author

8) An Education (2009): Lone Scherfig, director

9) Little Women (1994): Gillian Armstrong, director & Louisa May Alcott, author

10) Europa, Europa (1990): Agnieszka Holland, director

11) Like Water for Chocolate (1992): Laura Esquivel, author

12) Brokeback Mountain (2005): Annie Proulx, author

13) Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) & the Chamber of Secrets (2002): J.K.Rowling, author

14) Awakenings (1990): Penny Marshall, director

15) The Colour Purple (1985): Alice Walker, author

16) We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011): Lynne Ramsay, director & Lionel Shriver, author

17) The Age of Innocence (1993): Edith Wharton, author

18) The Help (2011): Kathryn Stockett, author

19) Frida (2002): Julie Taymor, director

20) Interview with the Vampire (1994): Anne Rice, author

[1] Such as Wuthering Heights (1939), Sense & Sensibility (1995), Pride & Prejudice (2005), Jane Eyre (2011) and Love & Friendship (2016)  

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10 Responses to Girl Power: 20 Great Book-to-Film Adaptations

  1. Paul S says:

    I agree with To Kill a Mockingbird as #1. I love the book and the film, and that marvellous moment when the gallery stands for Atticus Finch as he leaves the courtroom, never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

  2. Artem says:

    I see the list only comprises the stories based on books, so my comment is a bit off-road here.
    Nevertheless, I’d like to name “The Hurt Locker”. If this isn’t for Girls Power in cinematography, then I don’t know))

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      Definitely! What a movie shot by a female director! Yes, it is not based on any book, but “The Hurt Locker” is just great. I think Kathryn Bigelow is one of the very very best female directors working today, and one of the most influential. Her “Zero Dark Thirty” was also very good.

      • Artem says:

        I didn’t like “Zero Dark Thirty”, by the way, though I enjoyed Jessica Chastain’s play (her deep eyes and natural paleness bring some tragedy in every scene). The movie seemed a little bit unrealistic for me. It can be my own perception though. I agree Kathryn Bigelow is an outstanding director. She doesn’t try to make pop-movies, but creates thought-provoking ones)). I loved The Hurt Locker cause it wasn’t praising the War, but showing the real ugliness and sorrow, trauma the soldiers get and all that PTSD stuff that never leaves them in a “normal” life.

        I was born and raised in a town of military. We had a lot of former veterans both from WW2 and Afghanistan (Russian one Afghanistan). Some had extremely bad PTSD, the others – not. But you could always tell the former war participant from one who’d never been there by looking in their eyes. One of our teachers had it you know – complete emptiness in the eyes. He lost a leg in Afghanistan, but lived with it, was a very respected person in our town, never drunk, never shouting at students, never did anything weird. But everyone knew he had it. Syndrome.

        The brother of my class-mate had it worse. He was completely normal person when sober, but sometimes he used to drink and lost the feeling of reality. He was screaming strange stuff to nowhere, could speak with you and never recognize you at the same moment. Weird stuff. But everyone understood, although no one wanted to come close when he was like that.

        The war never ends for those who was there. They live thorough it every day and they see it every night. Blood, dirt and death. No glory, no meaning or explanation.

        The Hurt Locker portrays it so good, so real. That’s why I loved the movie.

        Men can do great flicks, great stuff. “Saving Private Ryan”, “Black Hawk Down” and everything. Patriotic action, dramatic action. But I think you have to be a woman to feel the others’ pain so deep. To feel the personal stuff. She’s great.

        P.S. I’m not a sexist)))

        • dbmoviesblog says:

          It is interesting to know that part of your life. In general, I don’t differentiate between female and male directors, but I do notice that female directors could really bring up that extra emotional, personal – as you put it, component, whereas male directors could easily bypass it. And it is very easy to ignore it when you do war-focused films. For example, “Stop-Loss” (2008) is an army-focused movie directed by Kimberly Peirce, and despite all the problems with it, there is really focus there on the personal hardship of the situation, and emotions involved.

  3. filmsCine says:

    Very, very great list. The Talented Mr Ripley is really a terrific one. There’s some good Patricia Highsmith film adaptations and some not so good.. Carol would be the best so far, in my opinion!

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      Thank you! Plein Soleil with Alain Delon is also not too bad an adaptation of The Talented Mr Ripley, because of Delon’s performance, but Minghella undoubtedly had a lot more style and used the best bits in the novel. I agree with you somewhat – Carol is a very good adaptation of the author’s work. Maybe it should even have been on this list, because I think it is better than, say, The Two Faces of January – this one I thought was weak.

      • filmsCine says:

        I haven’t actually seen Plein Soleil but I think I’ll give it a go, just out of interest. I only really liked The Talented Mr Ripley out of all the Ripley movie series. I loved Stranger On A Train too, although it’s a long, long time since I’ve seen it. Think I’ll blow the dust off the DVD.

        Carol definitely would be number 1, great work from Todd Haynes. Need to see more of his movies, I saw the TV adaptation of Mildred Pierce and wasn’t a fan!

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