The Best Movies Based on Books

Movies get inspired by many different things, including hit songs, plays, and true stories. But books remain at the top of the list when it comes to cinematic inspiration.

The Godfather, 1972

Based on Mario Puzo’s Novel

The Godfather, a Francis Ford Coppola vehicle, allows the audience to explore the workings of the fictional Corleone Mafia family in 1940s New York.

This film is held by many to be the greatest movie of all time and follows the family of Don Vito depicted by Marlon Brando’s. When the Don’s youngest son Michael, played by Al Pacino, reluctantly joins the Mafia, he becomes enmeshed in an endless cycle of betrayal and violence, and although he tries to maintain a normal relationship with Kay, his wife, portrayed by Diane Keaton, this becomes less and less possible as time goes on.

The Color Purple, 1985

Based on the Alice Walker Novel

This Steven Spielberg film has us following along the life journey of Celie, a young black girl growing up in rural South Georgia in the early 1900s. We’re introduced to her when she’s 14-years old and pregnant by her father and we stay with her over the next 30 years.

The Color Purple was the first feature film for both Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg, and both actresses were nominated for an Oscar for their portrayals of Sofia and Celie respectively.

There are some difficult issues in this film, so be prepared to get emotional! Make sure you have a box of tissues on hand and something fun lined up like Aussie Bingo games online to take your mind off the heavy stuff when the credits have finished rolling.

The Shawshank Redemption, 1994

Based on the Stephen King Novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption, directed by Frank Darabont, chronicles the journey that a formerly successful banker, Tim Robbins, undertakes in the grim Shawshank jailhouse after he’s found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. The movie portrays his unique method of dealing with his now gloomy, torturous life and how he befriends several fellow inmates along the way, most notably that of a sage long-term prisoner named Red, portrayed to perfection by Morgan Freeman.

Interestingly, the Red character is a white Irishman in the book. Freeman’s character cracks a joke in the film about being Irish as a nod to that fact.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001

Based on the First Volume of the Six Making up J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

An ancient ring lost for centuries has been found, ending up in the hands of a Hobbit named Frodo. When Gandalf, a powerful wizard, discovers that this small circular band is, in fact, the One Ring belonging to the Dark Lord Sauron, the Necromancer and main antagonist of the story, it’s decided that Frodo must set forth in an epic quest to the Cracks of Doom in order to terminate its evil power. Peter Jackson was at the helm of this flight of fantasy.