Classic Book to Screen Adaptation

It’s Friday, and you know what that means!


Classic Remarks is a meme hosted over at Pages Unbound. Every Friday they ask a question about classic literature. Participants are asked to discuss the themes, canon formation, the ‘timelessness’ of literature, and modes of interpretation.

The topic this week is:

Recommend a classic book that you think translated particularly well to screen (even if the adaptation was not entirely faithful).

First, I’ll get some honorable mentions out of the way: Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet (truest in script, but not in setting or era), Pride and Prejudice (yes, the one with Keira Knightly – fight me), Oliver & Company (Oliver Twist but it’s an animated adventure with animal main characters… what more do you want?), and of course The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Nothing else has been so epic in scale, score, costuming, or cinematography as that last. The incredible attention to detail taken in every aspect of these films was about as breathtaking as the settings. So why didn’t I choose it as my answer?

I’m trying to branch out. I thought to answer something that maybe everyone hasn’t seen to give them something new(ish) to binge watch.

My pick is a television adaptation of a classic – one of many that have been made from this same source material, in fact. And most definitely not the most faithful adaptation.

I adore Elementary, and that’s my pick for today. This adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is my absolute favourite, standing far above the rest in my opinion. While Sherlock BBC and House are certainly enjoyable to watch, they can’t beat Elementary.

This modern take on Sherlock stars Jonny Lee Miller as our disreputable detective, and the setting is modern day New York City. I think he embodies the genius and rudeness of Holmes without going overboard – and it feels true and excellent. Sherlock is a former consultant to Scotland Yard, who now assists the NYPD in solving especially tricky crimes. He’s also a recovering drug addict.

Enter Dr. Joan Watson, played by the ever-talented Lucy Liu. She is hired by Sherlock’s father to be his live-in sober companion, following him and making certain he doesn’t have a relapse. She is quickly drawn into the strange madness that is Holmes’ life. She grows as a character throughout the seasons, and she is my favourite Watson.

I adored what this show did with Moriarty’s character, and I hope that you’ll love it too. Do NOT look it up and ruin it for yourself, you will have such regret.

Have you watched Elementary – do you agree or disagree with my pick? How do you feel about other Sherlock adaptations? Which is your favourite?

Let me know in the comments below!