From paper to motion picture: five book-to-film adaptations you won’t want to miss

by Meagan Dill

For more than a century, literature has been a prime source of inspiration for Hollywood filmmakers. A quick look at some of the most highly anticipated upcoming films of this year and beyond confirms that this trend is still going strong. Here’s Georgette’s pick of what to look forward to in the way of upcoming book-to-film adaptations.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Starring: Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield and Andy Serkis as Gollum.

Directed by: Peter Jackson.

Released: 14 December 2012.

What to expect: With some of the cast of the Lord of the Rings trilogy reprising their roles, fans of the series are sure to be enthralled by this adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s prequel to Lord of the Rings. In addition, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is once again taking on the task of the adaptation and has decided to divide the novel into three films – part two of which will be released a year after the first, to be entitled The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Over the course of the three films, The Hobbit sees the seemingly timid Bilbo Baggins embark on a journey with 13 dwarves to retrieve the treasure rightfully belonging to their leader, Thorin. The treasure is guarded by a treacherous dragon – but before they can worry about that, the pack must face danger at every turn: trolls, goblins, and an enchanted forest to name just a few. Fantasy fans should be in for a treat.

The Great Gatsby

Starring: Leonardo di Caprio as Jay Gatsby, Toby Maguire as Nick Carraway, and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan.

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann.

Released: 4 January 2013.

What to expect: Baz Luhrmann is renowned for his theatrical and unique style (remember Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet?). Judging by the trailer, this adaptation will be as lavish and as vast in scale as the 1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald novel on which it is based. With Di Caprio as the broody titular character who finds that money and success can’t buy love after all, the film promises to be a spectacle and perhaps Luhrmann’s finest work in years.

Les Misérables

Starring: Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Samantha Barks as Éponine, and Amanda Seyfried as Cosette.

Directed by: Tom Hooper.

Released: 18 January 2013.

What to expect: This film is an adaptation of the award-winning musical (based on the book) of the same name. On stage, it is the world’s second longest running musical of all time. From the director of The King’s Speech, and with a star-studded cast, the film version looks set to be an eye-opener and a tear-jerker. Jackman plays Jean Valjean, an escaped prisoner who gets a chance for a fresh start as mayor of a small town. Inspector Javert, however, is still on the hunt for Valjean. In the meantime, the 1832 rebellion in Paris is coming to a head, and tragedy seems bound to ensue on all fronts.

Anna Karenina

Starring: Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina, Jude Law as Alexei Karenin, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Count Vronsky.

Directed by: Joe Wright.

Released: 1 February 2013.

What to expect: This adaptation appears to be in good hands with Wright at the helm, considering that he has previously directed two successful classic book-to-film adaptations: Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Both of these films also starred Keira Knightley, who has by now become renowned for her love of acting in period films. Set in late 19th century high society Russia, this adaptation is bound to be a feast for the eyes with its vast snowscapes and beautiful costumes. The plot of the film (based on the novel of the same name by Russian writer Leo Tolstoy) follows the devastating consequences of the titular character’s infidelity with a Count.

Dorothy of Oz

Starring: Lea Michele as Dorothy Gale, Dan Aykroyd as The Scarecrow, Kelsey Grammar as The Tin Man, James Belushi as The Cowardly Lion and Martin Short as The Wicked Jester.

Directed by: Dan St. Pierre and and Will Finn.

Released: 2013 (specific date still to be announced).

What to expect: Dorothy of Oz (a computer-animated film) takes place after the events of The Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy returns to Kansas only to find it destroyed, she is distraught. She then returns to Oz – where she finds that all of Oz (including her friends from The Wizard of Oz) are in danger. She embarks on a journey to save both Oz and Kansas. Although not much information is available regarding the film as yet, the few teaser clips and promotional pictures that are available show that one thing is certain: the animation is adorable, and if that’s not enough, the all-star cast should be a pull, too – not to mention that any film or book to do with Oz seems to have its very own kind of magic.

A Trip Back in Time Through Fashion History in Nice, France

A Trip Back in Time Through Fashion History in Nice, France

Cabaret in South Africa: perfectly marvellous