10 Classic Works That Should Get Screen Adaptations

Classic Remarks

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Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.

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This Week’s Prompt:

What classic work should get a film/TV adaptation?

There are many classics works that should get adaptations, however, so I chose to do a list.

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Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott

Alcott wrote more than Little Women–why not give her other works a chance to shine? Eight Cousins follows Rose Campbell as she goes to live with her uncle and meets all her boy cousins. The sequel, Rose in Bloom, follows her into adulthood as she falls in love.

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Little Men (and Jo’s Boys) by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has been adapted numerous times–there are six feature films, as well as mini series and even a Japanese anime–but, for some reason, the sequels never get their time to shine. I would love to see a film or a mini series follow the adventures of Jo’s boarding school, however.

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The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

This might admittedly be difficult to adapt as it is about an interior spiritual journey. However, it might be cool to have someone perform the poem or maybe to perform the poem and animate it!

Beowulf by Anonymous

I was indescribably disappointed by the 2007 film. Can we have a remake with less nudity and more dragons/medieval fantasy adventure?

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

In 1996, he BBC released a mini based on Anne Brontë’s classic novel about a woman who leaves her abused husband. There really aren’t any other adaptations. In contrast, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has 16 feature film adaptations and 15 TV adaptations. Could Anne’s lack of a film be a contributing factor in her lack of visibility?

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Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene

Secret at Shadow Ranch

There have been numerous adaptations of Nancy Drew for the screen over the years, but I really want a Nancy Drew film or mini series that is set in the 1930s or the 1950s. None of these modern adaptations, thank you.

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Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery

Emily of New Moon

There is a 1998 TV series based on what is possibly Montgomery’s second most famous series after the Anne of Green Gables books. However, I would love to see another adaptation, perhaps one more faithful to the books.

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Pat of Silver Bush by L. M. Montgomery

Emily and Anne may be Montgomery’s two most well-known characters, but I have always loved Pat. Pat is no authorial genius like Emily. She is not exuberantly original like Anne. She’s really very ordinary and not particularly gifted in school. And I love that about her. She’s ordinary, but she still gets to be a heroine.

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Cymbeline by William Shakespeare

Why is Romeo and Juliet remade all the time? There are other Shakespeare plays! Cymbeline had a modern adaptation in 2014, but reviews are generally negative. Why not try again?

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The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

This should be a TV series so multiple stories can be told without being rushed. I would love to see it in the hands of a faithful adapter, who would keep the spirit of the work, even if changes must be made so the work feels fluid.

27 thoughts on “10 Classic Works That Should Get Screen Adaptations

  1. Norwich Linguist says:

    Definitely ‘Divine Comedy’ and ‘Beowulf’. I agree with Shakespeare – why always the same plays? I’d love to see a really good-quality adaptation of ‘The Odyssey’ and ‘The Aeneid’.

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  2. Fran Laniado- Author says:

    Wonderful list! I agree with you. Don’t get me wrong, I love Little Women, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables etc. But let’s see something else adapted, rather that the same old thing! I love The Tenet of Wildfell Hall, Emily of New Moon, and your Nancy Drew as a period piece idea is really cool!

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  3. Sophie @ Balivernes says:

    I definitely agree that we need a proper film adaptation of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall! I find it so surprising that it hasn’t been adapted more because it’s a perfect story for TV or film.

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  4. richa says:

    thinking about it, you are totally right — Little Men could be such a great miniseries??? and YES to the Beowulf 2007 film being completely disappointing. it completely destroyed the plot and Grendel’s mother, honestly. and the thing about Shakespeare!! I didn’t realize that Cymbeline was even a play… and I feel like there are so many that haven’t really been adapted? it would be so cool and make it so much more accessible to modern audiences, don’t you think?

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  5. Never Not Reading says:

    I would also *love* to see a good Beowulf adaptation. It needs to be made similarly to Lord of the Rings, not imitating Clash of the Titans please. A Nancy Drew series would be great too, though I enjoy the modern updates and would be totally fine with that. 🙂

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  6. Michael J. Miller says:

    Why IS it so hard to make a good ‘Beowulf’ movie? That uncomfortable animated one from 2007 was weird. And I remember one with Christoper Lambert in the ’90s and, after ‘Highlander’ I figured he’d be a fine Beowulf…but it was a sci-fi, future dystopian film and Grendel, I think, was some sort of virus? (Don’t quote me on the virus thing, though. It was a long time ago.) But the story has DRAGONS and MONSTERS and SWORDS and a melancholic-yet-necessary commentary on the inevitable changing winds of time. How can’t Hollywood get this right??

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    • Krysta says:

      Right? Beowulf seems like it would be PERFECT for Hollywood, especially with the success of epic fantasies like LotR and Game of Thrones. Yet no one has taken on the challenge and succeeded! Very strange. Also, Grendel is a virus? What?

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      • Michael J. Miller says:

        I remember seeing the movie at the video store (back when video stores were a thing (ahhhh, the good ol’ days!)) and I was thinking about renting it. Then I saw sci-fi/dystopia. Then I saw something about a virus. Then I wondered if the people who made this had ever read more than the back of some random copy of Beowulf. And I sighed to myself and decided to take a hard pass.

        Also, your Divine Comedy idea is another brilliant one! I’d love to see that! I’ve read ‘Inferno’ and I got about halfway through ‘Purgatory’…but never finished nor did I make it to ‘Paradise.’ Hahaha, so the movies would be perfect for me! Also, while I’ve never circled back around to finish them all, I do often hope my progress through the books isn’t indicative of/foreshadowing my own soul’s eventual journey XD.

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