Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson are currently collaborating on a film adaptation of The Adventures of Tintin, perhaps the greatest graphic novel series ever. Jackson is also adapting The Hobbit, the amazing prequel to The Lord of the Rings, into not one but two movies.
(Fun fact: Andy Serkis, best known for his performance as Gollum, will star in both the Tintin and the Hobbit films as a drunken sea captain and the aforesaid slimy creature, respectively.)
With these excellent books receiving their long-overdue transition to movie screens, I couldn’t help but wonder what other books would make good films. Here are five novels that would make, in my humble and totally biased judgment, amazing movies.
5. Beau Geste by Percival Christopher Wren
If you’ve ever read Peanuts, you may be familiar with Snoopy’s occasional daydream that he’s a member of the French Foreign Legion leading his troop, a line of little yellow birds, through the desert in search of Fort Zinderneuf.
This is a reference to Beau Geste, a classic adventure novel. It tells the story of three brothers who join the French Foreign Legion and embark on a quest involving an inexplicable mystery, a priceless gem, a terrifying battle and two silly Americans. Several film adaptations were made of Beau Geste many years ago, and it’s time for its triumphant return to cinema.
4. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
I keep hearing rumors of an Ender’s Game movie being made, but for years it has stubbornly insisted on not being made. A science fiction masterpiece, Ender’s Game is the story of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a child prodigy who’s recruited into Battle School to become a military commander and save humankind from the hostile extraterrestrials called the Buggers.
The movie could incorporate elements from Ender’s Shadow, a companion novel telling the same story from the point of view of the child called Bean, who is more intelligent and sarcastic—and therefore, to my sensibility, more likable—than Ender. An Ender’s Game film would offer epic space battles, great characterization and absolutely no teenage romance.
3. Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
This novel has been adapted into a film at least twice. The first time, it became one of the greatest classics of the silent movie era. The second time, it won eleven Academy Awards. Ben-Hur has sword fighting, political intrigue, a chariot race, a battle at sea and a bitter yet handsome young man whose thirst for vengeance is dramatically conquered by mercy.
Ben-Hur is the tale of a man betrayed by his closest companion and condemned to life as a galley slave. He eventually earns freedom and wealth, and resolves to use them (and his mad chariot-racing skills) to punish his treacherous friend. The novel strives to tell this exciting story in the most boring way possible, but a modern movie adaptation would be epic.
2. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
I read a lot of books as a child. Of all the books I read, about only one did I think, “Man, I wish they’d make this into a movie.” That book was The Horse and His Boy, the third book in The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s been my favorite since I first read the Narnia series, and I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that it was also the author’s favorite.
They keep making books from The Chronicles of Narnia into movies, adding gratuitous romances and battles. The Horse and His Boy is the only book in the series that doesn’t need extra romances or battles. There’s already romantic tension between two of the main characters. There’s also a battle, and an exhilarating chase on horseback, and a harrowing journey along a mountain precipice—dash it, it’s been more than a decade since I first read the book and I’m still saying, “Man, I wish they’d make this into a movie.”
1. The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
Mystery novels are intriguing, fantasy novels are spellbinding, literary novels are thought-provoking, but no book has ever kept me hooked quite like The Man Who Was Thursday.
The Man Who Was Thursday is the incredible story of a poet-turned-detective who joins a great council of anarchists in order to bring them to justice. The anarchists are named after days of the week; the title refers to the appointment of the detective to the post of Thursday. The scene in which we meet the anarchist council is terrifying. We’re alarmed by Muslim extremists who blow things up for religious reasons, but the anarchists in The Man Who Was Thursday are a good deal more frightening—they blow things up for no reason. The author of the novel also has a fantastic trick of introducing something that seems impossible and terrifying, and later explaining it in an instant with the addition of one simple fact: like someone hitting a switch in a dark room and instantly flooding it with light. Of all the novels that could be made into a really good movie, this is the one I’d most like to see.
What books would you like to see made into movies? Let us know in the comments!