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From Pages To Screen: The Most Anticipated Book Adaptations In 2021

During this not very new global pandemic, many readers found in the literary world a place to escape from the chaotic events out there. The experience of reading various adventurous, romantic and even scary stories allow us to live lives we would never be able to otherwise, especially right now, due to quarantine. I personally discover lots of new favorite novels myself!

But an activity we’re also doing a lot is watching films and TV shows, and the ones based on the books we like the most are always interesting. Even when we don’t like the final product, we’re always curious about it. And, let’s be honest, the cinematographic industry loves it. Are you excited to watch some new adaptations this year? Then check out the current #5 most anticipated releases for 2021! If you like the best of both worlds, this list is for you! 

Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie (1937)

Hercule Poirot – one of the most famous literary detectives, along with Sherlock Holmes – is coming to the screens once again this year on September 15th, after it being postponed a couple of times. Directed and starred by Kenneth Charles Bragnagh, winner of an Academy Award for “Best Actor”, Death on the Nile (1937) is the newest adaptation of another celebrated novel written by our beloved crime queen, Agatha Christie.

In a calm vacation in Egypt, on a luxury cruise on the Nile, Poirot faces his peace and rest being stolen by the sudden mysterious death of a young rich lady called Linnet Doyle. As a classic Christie’s story, the detective notices that he came across a very difficult puzzle to solve, because everyone there had a reason to want the girl dead. Mixing wealth and crime, power and suspense, the movie has everything to make the viewer thrilled by its atmosphere.

Also, if you are into the world of cinema, it’s possible you know this is a readaptation. The novel already has a movie, which was released in 1978 and even won an Oscar for “Best Costume Design”, but earned only US$ 14,000,000. It was a total box-office flop. Let’s hope this new one won’t end up facing the same fate!

Foundation – Isaac Asimov (1942)

Apple TV+ is being very kind to its users this year by adapting Foundation, by Isaac Asimov, the first novel of the Foundation series, published in 1942. You might as well know this series as the “The Greatest Science-Fiction of All Time”, nominated so by the Hugo Awards, the most important award of the sci-fi industry. The influence of Asimov’s work, by the way, is not just important for literature, but also for cinema. Ladies, gents and everyone in between, we are talking about the story which inspired Star Wars by George Lucas in the first place!

In this universe, the galaxy is being governed by the tyrant Galactic Empire, which makes the genius researcher Hari Seldon believe in its fall. Predicted by him to happen in 300 years, it should bring 30 thousand years of barbarity to mankind. With that in mind, he proposes a solution: if created a Galactic Encyclopedia, collecting all knowledge the galaxy holds, from culture to academic theory, the future could have a path to rebirth from. All the ashes and the chaos would be reduced to only a thousand years, but the Empire’s fall cannot be stopped.

The Apple TV+ adaptation is coming to the public as a TV show and the producer’s team has the illustrious support of Robyn Asimov, Isaac Asimov’s own son. Finally, the cast chosen embraces Lee Pace, Jared Harris and Lou Llobell as some of the main characters. Must be a true thrill to watch this, am I right?

The Hundred and One Dalmatians – Dodie Smith (1956)

If you believed the dogs were originally the heroes of this famous story, I’m sorry to tell you: they lied to you as a child. The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith actually brings the iconic villain Cruella as the protagonist and that’s what Disney intends to bring us this time. Starring Emma Stone, Cruella is a new movie coming to Disney+ on May 26th this year, following the trend of exploring various villain’s perspectives.

The film will be set in London during the 70’s, showing lots of references to the punk rock scene, very strong back then. Estella, a young fashion designer, sticks to her ambition of being recognized in the industry, but ends up following the wrong path when meeting two young criminals. The question that may bother the reader is the following: how will Disney justify her actions, such as animal cruelty, and create a misunderstood victim?

Well, maybe they won’t. The director chosen for the adaptation is Craig Gillespie, who has experience in this type of movie. One of his past productions – I, Tonya (2017) – focus on the “villain”’s point of view, which creates a dubious and almost unreliable narrative with a touch of dark humor. The production also relies on other great names, such as the costume designer Jenny Beavan, winner of two Oscars for “Best Costume Design”. A film about villainy and fashion couldn’t have a better team, I suppose!

Dune – Frank Herbert (1965)

Back on the flow of epic space stories, Dune, as the sci-fi fans are aware of, is also one of the greatest literary productions of the genre. Frank Herbert, publishing this work in 1965, gave to this community a new piece of art to praise, even making Arthur C. Clarke, one of the most renowned names of science fiction, admits he knows “nothing comparable to it in sci-fi or fantasy, except The Lord of the Rings”. This quote helped the promotion of the first novel of this series of books back then. After the first adaptation released in 1984, it’s time to open our hearts for a brand new one, coming this year.

The story, which received both Hugo and Nebula Awards, is being directed by Denis Villeneuve – who also directed Blade Runner 2049. The cast counts with famous names, such as Zendaya and Oscar Isaac. Timothée Chalamet has been given the responsibility to be the main character, Paul Atreides, who came from a very influential and powerful family. The movie will bring us a world with deep politics and religion issues, in which Paul, the only hope to turn a very important plan into practice, has to be trained by an ancient and secret brotherhood. Well, after reading the book, we sure can realize the reason behind the great expectation over this new adaptation. Let’s be optimistic and hope that Hollywood surprises us for the better!

Wicked – Gregory Maguire (1995)

Although Wicked is a very famous Broadway production, many people are aware it was based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995). The book tells L. Frank Baum’s greatest story – The Wizard of Oz – through the perspective of the supposedly villain, Elphaba. Maguire makes the reader question their own definitions of good and evil and perceive the enchanted land of Oz in a way never thought before.

Since it’s a story of great success around the scene of musical theater, Hollywood decided it would be a good idea to make it into a movie production for the big – and even small – screens. Everything was going according to plan and the release was programmed for this year’s December 22nd. However, the pandemic came and made it a lot harder for the team involved. As a result of the time pressure, Stephen Daldry gave up his place as the director last October, which delayed the process and made the release date undefined.

Fortunately, Jon M. Chu has been already chosen and announced as the new director of the movie and is searching for the cast. Kristin Chenoweth, the actress who played one of the protagonists on Broadway, suggests Ariana Grande and Dove Cameron as the perfect duo for Elphaba and Glinda, respectively. We can only hope, right?

It seems that this year holds lots of good adaptations for us readers. See you on the streaming platforms then – but maybe, hopefully, on the theaters!


The article above was edited by Julia Queiroz.

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Catharina Pinheiro

Casper Libero '24

A journalism student in love with literature and music. :) 
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