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It Was A Book First

Books that inspired famed movie adapatations are now on display

Posted 10.14.14 by Meredith Moore

The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in. - Harold Goddard 

Books have been inspiring film adaptations since the earliest days of cinema. In 1896, American Mutoscope Company released the first known film adaptation, Trilby and Little Bille, based on the novel Trilby by George du Maurier. By the 1940s, seven out of ten Oscar winning movies were based off of novels. It has been estimated that a third of all films are adapted from novels, and that number grows considerably when you consider film adaptations based on plays, autobiographies, journalism pieces and comic books.

Many film adaptations remain quite faithful to the original text, while others are more loosely inspired or updated for modern audiences. Those who are familiar with the 1995 teen flick Clueless, directed by Amy Heckerling, may be unaware that it is a modern retelling of Jane Austen's 1815 novel Emma. Or, that Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Oscar winning film Apocalypse Now is based on Joseph Conrad's 1899 novella Heart of Darkness.

Children's books have always been popular source material for movies. Books such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum and Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers have both been turned into films that have become celebrated classics. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has been adapted to film many times, including the 1951 family-friendly Disney version, Alice in Wonderland, and the 1988 darker retelling of the story, Alice, by Czech stop-motion animator Jan Švankmeyer.

The past decade has also shown an increased trend in movies based on young adult fiction. After the success of the Harry Potter films, which were adapted from the book series by J.K. Rowling, movies based on the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins were released.

This year brings us more film adaptations including Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Please browse the display cases and consider checking out some of the materials exhibited. Perhaps you will stumble upon something you did not know was a book first!

October 14 - 31, 2014
Curated by Meredith Moore

Circulation policy for books on exhibit:
Circulating books on display in the museum cases are available for check out at any time. Please see a staff member at the circulation desk to request a book from the cases. Titles, when available, may be checked out at any time from the MRC. For books on display from the Special Collections (Cage), please see a reference librarian.

Image information:
Thumbnail: True Grit by Charles Portis (FICTION Portis)
This Page: The Annotated Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, introduction and notes by Douglas A. Anderson (FICTION Tolkien)


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