I really enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes, and I enjoyed meeting author Sabaa Tahir when I went to visit the set of the book trailer shoot. When the opportunity came up to host a guest post, I naturally had questions about the film that’s in development! It’s a little too early to share any details on that front, but the author is here with some of her favorite book-to-film adaptations for the official blog tour, with thoughts on why she thinks they were so successful. We’ve got pretty strong opinions on this topic, so we hope that An Ember in the Ashes will be as fun to watch as it was to read.
Some of you know that An Ember in the Ashes has been optioned for a film by Paramount Pictures, with Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad) and Haroon Saleem (Chronicles of Narnia) producing. The adaptation is moving forward, with a script nearly finished! A film version of my book would be surreal and awesome, but of course, I do hope that the adaptation is loyal to the book. As an author, that will always be my first priority. I take great heart from the fact that the producers and Paramount are really dedicated to staying true to the spirit of Ember!
While a lot of readers have issues with book-to-film adaptations (myself included), sometimes, directors do a bang-up job. Here are five book-to-movie adaptations that I think got it right:
1. Lord of the Rings: Hardcore fantasy fans might not agree with this one, and I’ve had many a debate over it. But ultimately, I feel that Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s classic epic hits all the right notes. We skip the overly-long back-stories and launch straight into the story. And the songs—well the songs were never my favorite thing about the LOTR books, so I wasn’t sorry to see them gone. Most importantly, I feel like Jackson captured the scope of Frodo’s epic quest and wrenching decisions with a tight script and perfect casting.
2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The PoA is still my favorite of the Harry Potter films. J.K. Rowling’s books get progressively darker as Harry gets older, and this is the first movie that captures that progression perfectly. At the same time, director Alfonso Cuarón made sure we didn’t lose any of the humor and whimsy of the books. Throw in Gary Oldman as Sirius Black and David Thewlis as Remus Lupin and we’ve got ourselves a pretty perfect adaptation.
3. Jurassic Park: A classic. No one does marauding dinosaurs like Spielberg. The script has humor and suspense in all the right places. We don’t get any of the extra storylines that clutter up the book. But my favorite part of the movie is the music, spectacularly scored by composer John Williams. The soaring main theme takes the story to a whole new level that you just can’t experience while reading the book.
4. Bridget Jones’s Diary: Perhaps I’m biased because I didn’t read the book until after I saw the film, but for me, this movie is perfect. The casting, the humor, the romance—Helen Fielding wrote the script and you can see it in how well she portrays the spirit of her characters. The film is actually more different from the book than I expected, but just as fun and quirky. Hugh Grant brings a perfect, seedy sort of appeal to Daniel Cleaver and Colin Firth’s Darcy is by turns infuriating and enchanting. I own this movie, have seen it probably 20 times, but I’m still not sick of it. That’s the mark of a damn good book-to-movie adaptation.
5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011): I really enjoyed Stieg Larsson’s books, but the visceral, unflinching nature of the movie took the story to a different place. I can’t say I loved the movie—there were some truly disturbing parts that I struggled to get through. But it was certainly very true to the book, and the brooding, chilly atmosphere, emphasized by Trent Reznor’s spare score, was spot on.
Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
I’m often neutral when it comes to book-to-film adaptation announcements, but in this case I’m pretty excited–it’s a very atmospheric book with scenes that are very easy to visualize, so it’ll be fun to see them come to life one day. Fingers crossed that the filmmakers will take heed of all the things that made the above adaptations successful in this author’s eyes.
Are you excited for the Ember book and film, too? As true booklovers, you know you should try to read this before the film comes along and everyone is clamoring to read it, right? ;) What other book-to-film adaptations are you looking forward to?
Be on the lookout for Layla’s An Ember in the Ashes review for us this Wednesday, too!