My Film and Literature Course

         All of the work we read in class had a point or at least made us think about what we were reading. There are several I would not recommend for pleasure reading, simply because they do take some effort, and they are not a quick casual read. Emily Brontë’s 1847 Wuthering Heights would be one of them. The story seemed to drag on; and at times it was hard, because of the dialect, to follow. The plot was interesting, but I felt that the book was longer than was necessary to convey the story.

         I enjoyed Henry James’s 1898 The Turn of the Screw; but I do not think that I would include that in a reading class either, simply because it was written in a manner to confuse the reader. I did, however, enjoy the extent to which it made us wonder about the ghosts and if they were real or if the governess was just seeing things. Again, the plot was interesting and, if written today, may not be as turned around as Henry James wrote it. But, that does add to the mood of the book. There are pros and cons for each book, I suppose.

         The 1949 movie The Heiress, directed by William Wyler, was more interesting than its 1880 counterpart, Washington Square, written by Henry James. I can generally visualize how a scene might play out in my head, but I had trouble doing this with this book. The scenes from the movie, as with most movies, better helped me to understand what everything would look like. It was also more emotional than the book just because of the way the actress, Olivia de Havilland, portrayed her character, Catherine. In the beginning, she was clumsy and socially awkward. Towards the end of the movie and the book, she became harder and less trusting of people in general. In the movie version, de Havilland portrayed her character as even harsher than she appeared in the book. For example, in the book, Catherine did take care of her father when he was dying. In the movie adaptation, she simply let the servant take care of him; and, when she was told her father was asking for her, she did not go to him but sat on a bench outside. It was a nice contrast to the book, and I think I might include it in my course.

         I would include George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion. It was a pleasure to read, and it was also informative. Before this book, I had not given phonetics any consideration. It was well written, full of detail but not an overwhelming amount, or to the point that it did not make sense. The film adaptation, the 1964 version titled My Fair Lady, directed by George Cukor and starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison, was also done well. It conveyed the thoughts of the book and did it tastefully, adding even more humor to the story with songs like “Just You Wait” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.”

         One book I may include would be Homer’s The Odyssey, with Joel Coen’s 2000 adaptation O Brother Where Art Thou? . I read and compared this in a previous class; and, though it is not a straight book to film adaptation, it does follow The Odyssey quite well. It is also interesting to find the comparisons, especially for those students who did not know that the movie was based on that book

.          Along those same lines, I would include Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and Gil Junger’s 1999 adaptation 10 Things I Hate About You. Again, many people do not realize that the movie was based on Shakespeare’s work. The plot is relatable to people even today; and, since many people have seen the movie, I think it would be enjoyable for them to go back, read the book, and watch the movie again to see the comparisons.

         I would also like to add in, just as a fun suspense piece, one of Stephen King’s novels, like The Body, which gave us the 1986 adaptation Stand By Me or his 1996 novel The Green Mile with its 1999 film adaptation of the same name. Stephen King is considered by many to be a wonderful, creative author of horror and thrillers. His books also usually adapt well to the big screen with many of the actors chosen able to portray their characters in a manner that displays the correct mood of the book.

Sarah Verive