Great Novels You Never Knew, Part VII

Motion picture adaptations of books too often disappoint those of us who love good films; arguably only a few dozen movie adaptations have the artistry to withstand the test of time. The presented film masterpieces not only do justice to their original novels, but they build on the original messages. In many cases, print and film versions of the same story are together able to give us insight into the way people lived in other places and times. In Cold Comfort Farm, contemporary writer Stella Gibbons creates an eccentric comedy of manners about a 19th century would-be London socialite, who is relentlessly determined to help remove her rural cousins from their decaying farm. Orson Welles creates in Jane Eyre a memorable flawed hero, Rochester, in a Hollywood version of the archetypical romantic novel. In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, humans are literally produced in baby factories to meet the requirements of the job market. This book is based on a dystopian novel that accurately predicted trends that exist in today's society. In Franz Kafka's The Trial, Orson Welles plays an attorney in a case where the falsely accused defendant will literally die before he can get a hearing. Zeferelli's Romeo and Juliet places a couple of teenagers in the starring roles and makes a thoroughly accessible and fresh performance, especially for people who otherwise hate the idea of sitting through any of Shakespeare's plays. In The Ruling Class, Peter O'Toole plays the mad son of an earl who believes he is God, a comedy targeting British institutions.

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