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None of the subsequent adaptations has matched the dark power of the brilliant Wyler’s. Including a fictionalised version of Lee’s friend Truman Capote, this compelling and important work has lost none of its power since its release. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO by BORIS PASTERNAK Published: 1957 Film adaptation: 1965 Director: DAVID LEAN Lean’s snowy cinematic masterpiece starring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie and Alec Guinness brings to life the Nobel Prize-winner’s story of revolutionary Russia with tremendous style.
Although beaten to 1965’s Best Picture Oscar by The Sound of Music, this memorable realisation honours all the emotional and political complexity of Boris Pasternak’s original novel. THE LEOPARD by GIUSEPPE TOMASI DI LAMPEDUSA Published: 1958 Film adaptation: 1963 Director: LUCHINO VISCONTI Most famous for its almost hour-long ballroom scene and glorious period detail, Visconti’s epic filming of Lampedusa’s novel examines the honour codes of a changing Italy with the help of a handsome cast including Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale.
This seven Oscar-winning creation may never been beaten.
And any hopes Lugosi had of going on to play romantic leads were cruelly dashed. THE DAY OF THE JACKAL by FREDERICK FORSYTH Published: 1971 Film adaptation: 1973 Director: FRED ZINNEMANN Forsyth’s intelligent political thriller revolves around the planned assassination of Charles de Gaulle. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT by ERICH MARIA REMARQUE Published: 1929 Film adaptation: 1930 Director: LEWIS MILESTONE This haunting First World War film starred Lew Ayres, who would go on to be a conscientious objector. G BALLARD Published: 1984 Film adaptation: 1987 Director: STEVEN SPIELBERG With a Tom Stoppard screenplay adapted from Ballard’s autobiographical novel, few films of the Eighties have the star quality of Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun.
Zinnemann’s classic film adaptation has a rakish Edward Fox playing the eponymous hired killer, with the ever-appealing film set that is Paris as a backdrop. Lewis Milestone made pioneering use of the crane to capture sweeping shots of the horrors of battle, mirroring the epic yet graphic scope of Remarque’s original novel with devastating effect. A stirring portrayal by Christian Bale of a privileged expat boy in China, makes this a film as beguiling as the old Shanghai of the protagonist’s youth. TRAINSPOTTING by IRVINE WELSH Published: 1993 Film adaptation: 1996 Director: DANNY BOYLE Somewhat easier to follow than Welsh’s novel, this sick but slick collaboration from the team who made Shallow Grave features a strung-out Ewan Mc Gregor capering around Edinburgh with his hopeless mates, committing ever more debased acts to a pumping soundtrack.
It revivified British cinema just as Welsh’s writing breathed new life into fiction. APOCALYPSE NOW (Heart of Darkness) by JOSEPH CONRAD Published: 1902 Film adaptation: 1979 Director: FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA The most extraordinary of Vietnam films, and by far the craziest version of a Conrad novel ever conceived, Coppola’s Oscar-winning modernisation of Heart of Darkness is without compare.
Its hallucinatory feel and dystopian view of American soldiering was achieved only after a shoot so beset with disaster that Coppola compared it to Vietnam itself. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN by CORMAC Mc CARTHY Published: 2005 Film adaptation: 2007 Directors: JOEL AND ETHAN COEN The first literary adaptation by cult writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen, this chilling film follows Mc Carthy’s bleak novel almost to the letter.