Movies With a Surprising Basis in Classic Literature & Their Modern-Day Versions

Chi-Raq (2015) - IMDb


We’re all pretty familiar with movies that update the works of Jane Austen and Shakespeare (Bridget Jones/Clueless/Materials Girls/10 Things I Hate About You/She’s The Man/Big Business/Warm Bodies etc).


10 Things I Hate About You Trailer


But what about the more left-field pictures based on classic novels?


The 1979 gang movie The Warriors was based on Xenophon’s ancient Greek epic Anabasis, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) echoed Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, 1998’s present day Great Expectations, Easy A (Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter), O Brother Where Art Thou? (The Odyssey), Match Point (Dreiser’s An American Tragedy), the 1930s-set Les Miserables (1995), Apocalypse Now (Conrad’s Heart of Darkness) and Ryan’s Daughter (Madame Bovary) all attempted to offer fresh takes on vintage works.


The Dark Knight Rises - Crane's Court Cases (HD) IMAX


Brian De Palma’s rock musical Phantom Of The Paradise (1974) was a new spin on The Phantom of the Opera, Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq brought Aristophanes’ sex strike satire Lysistrata to the present day, likewise Cruel Intentions (Dangerous Liaisons), Pretty Woman (Pygmalion) and Notes from the New World (2011) which was based on Dostoyevsky’s novella Notes from the Underground.


Chi-Raq Official Trailer #1 (2015) - Wesley Snipes, Teyonah Parris Movie HD


There’s also a slew of movies that owe a huge debt to Salinger’s A Catcher in the Rye (the author’s estate continues to prevent an actual screen adaptation) such as Tadpole, Roger Dodger, Igby Goes Down, The Good Girl (all remarkably from 2002), Less than Zero (1987) and Ordinary People (1980).


Roger Dodger (2002 Official Trailer #1 - Campbell Scott, Jess Eisenberg Movie


Igby Goes Down Official Trailer #1 - Jeff Goldblum Movie (2002) HD


Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tanenbaums (2001) echoes Salinger’s Glass family stories.


His 1998 picture Rushmore also bares some comparison with Catcher.


A few more clips:


Rushmore (1998) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers


Great Expectations (1998) - Official® Trailer [HD]



Arnell Esq

Arnell Esq

Broadcast consultant - former Director/Creator of ITV3, ITV4 in the UK, producer/writer (most recently Bob Fosse for Sky Arts in May 2019), commentator/rent-a-gob for trades, broadsheets and magazines. Also occasional lecturer (University of Westminster, London). Content provider. Accept no substitute (terms & conditions apply) 'Nullum bonum amico, nullum peius hostes'