The late 90s to the 2010s have given us a fair share of romantic comedies and modern adaptations of classic literature novels. Movies that we know and love were based on famous novels, like 10 Things I Hate About You is based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Easy A is loosely based on The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Clueless was inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma. These movies are staples for rom-coms and I think more movie adaptations should be filmed, so here are my suggestions for novels that should be turned into films!
A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens takes place during the French Revolution. The novel is about the French Doctor Manette and how his 18-year-long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris eventually led to his release to live in London with his estranged daughter Lucie. There are other major characters, such as Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, who can be reimagined into two people of color in their 30s who work as doctors in New York City, alongside Doctor Manette, who’s shown as a white man during the 70s-80s.
For this adaption to resonate with the audience, it would be great to include a modern reality and social injustice that people are still facing. The transgender community was hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic from the early 1970s, throughout the 80s and was heavily affected during the 90s. This community can portray the revolutionaries that were prevalent in the novel. They decide to protest outside various hospitals and doctor offices, including Doctor Manette’s practice, which continues to discriminate towards them. This not only shows a more modern reality to this story but also shows the realities of the transgender community and how they continue to fight for basic rights that others already have. This film will also have the same themes as the novel – sacrifice, redemption and emphasizing the social injustices of the transgender communities.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
In Shakespearean plays, a comedy has a happy ending and usually has more light-hearted tones. A Midsummer’s Night Dream is about two men and two women, and when two men, Lysander and Demetrius love Hermia, but she only loves Lysander. Meanwhile, the other woman, Helena, loves Demetrius and he doesn’t love her. Until Robin Goodfellow accidentally uses magic to make Lysander fall in love with Helena and makes it worse by using magic on Demetrius and making him fall in love with Helena. At this point, both Lysander and Demetrius fall in love with Helena, and not Hermia.
This could be reimaged by setting a couple of friends in a city. In a possible film adaptation, there could be a representation of the LGBTQ community and people of color, which could show some humor if the four leads end up being three women, instead of two and one man and vice versa. Not only would this be humorous in ways, but it could give the LGBTQ community more representation and enhance the realities of the magic that’s being used on the friends by Robin Goodfellow.
Yes, I’m including another Shakespeare work, but this one is a tragedy and I think it could be portrayed dramatically well on the big screen. Hamlet is about the ghost of the King of Denmark who tells his son Hamlet to avenge his murder by killing the new king, Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius. Throughout the story and his vengeance, Hamlet grows insane in his actions and becomes obsessed with the idea of death.
This film would work best if it was set in high school, where suddenly a kid is struck by the tragedy of his father’s death and his mother’s lack of empathy is emphasized. There are people willing to help, but psychological and emotional factors lead Hamlet to become more unstable. The question of his own death plagues Hamlet as well; his grief and misery are so intense that he frequently longs for death to end his suffering. There are a lot of dark themes throughout the story, so setting this in a high school environment seems right, yet just the right amount of contrast to moods and can represent youth and hope for a brighter future. It would also help to create a bit of humor in his character, so then it’s emphasized just how irrational his actions and emotions have become due to his grief.
That’s the Ending?! “As If!”
There are countless pieces of literature that have already been adapted for films, even Hamlet which starred Ethan Hawke in 2000, but it just doesn’t live up to its hype. These film adaptations need a casual and modern spin on how our youth thinks and acts. For example, there are a lot of social and political injustices we have recognized that we want to emphasize through film to create a more influential voice for these communities and seek further change for equality.
We should continue to show more representation for minorities and have a chance to tell their stories through these classical novels, as the original characters in all of these novels have been depicted as cisgender white characters. Creating this medium for minorities allows them to see representation on the screen and is a big deal. This makes the audience feel courageous, encouraged and the films and stories can resonate with them. There’s still an abundance of classic novels that can be adapted modernly for films and hopefully can be done with proper representation for minority communities.