Grrrl on Film: From Page to Screen: Can Book Adaptations Bring Greater Visibility to Women Protagonists?
Last week many of you contributed enlightening responses to my two part post on women directors and provided useful suggestions on we can do to ensure that Hollywood supports women producers, screenwriters, and directors. Thank you!
Since then, I’ve been thinking about what can we do to get Hollywood to do a better job of representing women in film as leading characters. And I’m curious – as consumers of culture, do we, in general, read books more than we go out to watch movies (at least mainstream movies)? And if this is so, wouldn’t Hollywood be wise to make greater efforts to adapt books to film?
Should we help them out by making a list of books featuring women we admire, women who have inspired and moved us, and made us think about the world differently? I mean, though I can’t speak for everyone, and I do occasionally loves me some gratuitous explosions, I’m fairly certain that an adaptation of Eat, Pray, Love is going to get more women in theater seats than say, G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra.
Many books with one or more female protagonists have found varying degrees of critical and financial success in the translation from page to screen. I’ve included a few below, in no particular order, and I’m listing them here without opinion of the book or the filmic adaptation. I just want to get you thinking about the possibilities. Check them out and meet me down below!
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Book by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) - 1865.Film adaptations: 1951, 2010 – among many, many others.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Book by L. Frank Baum – 1900. Film adaptation The Wizard of Oz - 1939. Starring Judy Garland.(Among others such as the Oz-inspired mini-series, Tin Man – 2007. Starring Zooey Deschanel and Kathleen Robertson.)
Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy
Book by Frances Mayes – 1996. Film adaptation Under the Tuscan Sun - 2003. Starring Diane Lane.
Book by Shirley Conran – 1982. Adapted to a television miniseries - 1984. Starring Phoebe Cates.
Out of Africa
Book by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) – 1937.Film adaptation in 1985. Starring Meryl Streep.
Story by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen).Film adaptation in 1987.
Memoirs of a Geisha
Book by Arthur Golden -1997. Film adaptation – 2005. Starring Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Book by Ann Brashares – 2001.Film adaptation – 2005. Starring Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, and Blake Lively.
Pride and Prejudice - published in 1813.Film adaptations in 1940, 1980, 1995, 2003, 2005. Sense and Sensibility – published in 1811.Film adaptations in 1981, 1995, 2008.Emma – published in 1815. Film adaptations in 1972, 1995 (Clueless), 1996, 2009.
Book by Virginia Woolf – 1925Film adaptation – 1997. Starring Vanessa Redgrave.
Book by Stephenie Meyer – 2005.Film adaptation – 2008. Starring Kristen Stewart.
The Mists of Avalon
Book by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1982)Television miniseries – 2001. Starring Julianna Margulies and Anjelica Huston.
The Clan of the Cave Bear
Book by Jean M. Auel – 1980.Film adaptation – 1986. Starring Daryl Hannah.
Book by Marjane Satrapi - 2000. Film adaptation - 2007.
With the understanding that original screenplays are just as important as adapted ones, do you think we can convince Hollywood that drawing scripts from best-selling books with female protagonists will continue to be a win-win for them? What memoir, novel, or graphic novel would you like to see made (or perhaps remade) into a film or mini-series, and why do you think it could be a meaningful adaptation? Do you have a favorite adaptation we should know about? And if so, why do you think the transition from page to screen worked?
I think together we can easily come up with many stories by, about, and featuring women that reflect a diverse range of experiences both real and imaginary.
Screenwriters, check out the responses and start your creative engines!
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