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Based on the Book…

Literature has inspired some of the greatest films ever made.

Literary adaptations often get a bad press, with the books’ fans lamenting the necessary excision of events in the book or the loss of tone and character. Yet the best film adaptations capture the mood of the original or completely reimagine the stories in their transition to the big screen. Works by Emile Bronte, Joseph Conrad, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Thomas Hardy and more inspired these great films, with Francis Ford Coppola transporting Heart of Darkness to Vietnam in Apocalypse Now and Michael Winterbottom reimagining Tess of the d’Urbervilles in 21st century India in Trishna. Shelley and Stoker certainly couldn’t have predicted the influence their books would have in the future, with Frankenstein and Dracula having been adapted countless times for the big screen.

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Gomorrah
Gomorrah
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Gomorrah

Crime2008132 minsDirector: Matteo Garrone

Matteo Garrone's unnervingly authentic Naples crime drama won the Grand Prix at Cannes before inspiring a hit TV series.

Effi Briest
Effi Briest
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Effi Briest

Drama1974140 minsDirector: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Fassbinder's exquisitely subtle rendition of Fontane’s great novel, starring the great Hanna Schygulla as the titular 17-year-old who is forced into a socially advantageous marriage with a much older man.

Dead Ringers
Dead Ringers
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Dead Ringers

Horror1988115 minsDirector: David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg's multi award-winning psychological thriller exploring the bizarre lives of identical twins Elliot and Beverly, both played by Jeremy Irons.

Prick Up Your Ears
Prick Up Your Ears
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Prick Up Your Ears

Biopic1987110 minsDirector: Stephen Frears

A celebration of outrageous British playwright Joe Orton’s irreverent and charismatic talent, starring Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina.

A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms
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A Farewell to Arms

Romance193289 minsDirector: Frank Borzage

Based on the best-selling 1929 novel by Ernest Hemingway, Gary Cooper stars in Frank Borzage's Oscar-winning adaptation of the tragic Great War romance.

Les Enfants Terribles
Les Enfants Terribles
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Les Enfants Terribles

Drama1949106 minsDirector: Jean-Pierre Melville

Jean-Pierre Melville’s film of Jean Cocteau's controversial novel about a teenage brother and sister and their intense, closeted relationship.

Oliver Twist (1946)
Oliver Twist (1946)
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Oliver Twist (1946)

Period drama1948116 minsDirector: David Lean

Arguably the essential Dickens adaptation, David Lean’s evocative portrayal of Victorian London in sooty black and white features Alec Guinness as a memorably sinister Fagin.

Great Expectations
Great Expectations
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Great Expectations

Period drama1947118 minsDirector: David Lean

The first of David Lean’s two Dickens adaptations is one of the finest British literary interpretations and one of the most acclaimed of all British films.

The Fall of the House of Usher
The Fall of the House of Usher
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The Fall of the House of Usher

Animation & Artists Moving Image198016 minsDirector: Jan Svankmajer

The first of Švankmajer's 'tactile experiments', the subject chosen partly because the title was on an official list of 'approved' texts. In this version there are no humans, just a brief glimpse of a live raven as the camera roams around an eerie derelict house.

Fantastic Planet
Fantastic Planet
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Fantastic Planet

Animation & Artists Moving Image197372 minsDirector: René Laloux

René Laloux and Roland Topor’s surreal, psychedelic sci-fi animation imagines a world in which humanoid creatures are kept as pets by a race of giants.

Things to Come
Things to Come
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Things to Come

Science Fiction193697 minsDirector: William Cameron Menzies

H.G. Wells' chilling vision of the future, which imagines the 20th Century as a near-endless war and struggle against tyranny, remains a key milestone in British science fiction.

Millennium
Millennium
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Millennium

Science Fiction1989101 minsDirector: Michael Anderson

Flight crash investigator Bill Smith (Kris Kristofferson) discovers that time travellers from the future are visiting the present day and stealing passengers from doomed aircraft to repopulate a future, infertile human race.

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
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The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Period drama192591 minsDirector: Rupert Julian

'Man of a thousand faces' Lon Chaney stars in the first version of Gaston Leroux's oft-filmed novel.

Nosferatu
Nosferatu
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Nosferatu

Horror192289 minsDirector: F.W. Murnau

This influential Dracula adaptation contains some of the most famous images of expressionist film, with a new score by Hammer composer James Bernard.

Nosferatu the Vampyre
Nosferatu the Vampyre
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Nosferatu the Vampyre

Horror1979107 minsDirector: Werner Herzog

English language version of Herzog’s stimulating take on the Dracula story starring Klaus Kinski, with echoes of Murnau’s 1922 Nosferatu.

Brick Lane
Brick Lane
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Brick Lane

Drama200797 minsDirector: Sarah Gavron

Sarah Gavron’s subtle and intelligent adaptation of Monica Ali’s acclaimed novel charts the experiences of a Bangladeshi woman in London.

Odd Man Out
Odd Man Out
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Odd Man Out

Crime1947116 minsDirector: Carol Reed

Wounded during a robbery, a gunman attempts to escape police in Carol Reed's moody Irish thriller, starring James Mason.

Billy Liar
Billy Liar
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Billy Liar

Comedy196398 minsDirector: John Schlesinger

Tom Courtenay is the clerk whose overactive fantasies compensate for a dull provincial life, in this classic film from the British New Wave.

The American Friend
The American Friend
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The American Friend

Film noir1978121 minsDirector: Wim Wenders

Acclaimed director Wim Wenders, with the help of Dennis Hopper, transforms Patricia Highsmith's novel 'Ripley's Game' into a gripping European noir.

The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
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The Scarlet Letter

Period drama197290 minsDirector: Wim Wenders

Wim Wenders adapts the acclaimed novel in which a Puritan village chastises a young mother for giving birth out of wedlock.

Wrong Move
Wrong Move
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Wrong Move

Road movie197599 minsDirector: Wim Wenders

A young man journeys across Germany to find his voice as a writer in Wim Wenders' celebrated road movie.

The Ipcress File
The Ipcress File
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The Ipcress File

Crime1965108 minsDirector: Sidney J. Furie

The coolest spy of all – Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer – makes his brilliant big screen debut in this landmark British spy thriller.

Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
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Lodger: A Story of the London Fog

Crime192691 minsDirector: Alfred Hitchcock

Ivor Novello plays a strange lodger who may be behind a number of Jack the Ripper-style killings in Alfred Hitchcock’s silent thriller.

The 39 Steps
The 39 Steps
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The 39 Steps

Thriller193583 minsDirector: Alfred Hitchcock

Sublime and suspenseful version of the popular John Buchan spy thriller from the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock.

Sabotage
Sabotage
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Sabotage

Thriller193677 minsDirector: Alfred Hitchcock

A cinema owner works with a ring of terrorists, with drastic effects on his wife and her brother, in Hitchcock’s London-set thriller.

Young and Innocent
Young and Innocent
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Young and Innocent

Thriller193783 minsDirector: Alfred Hitchcock

In Hitchcock's early thriller, the witness to a murder is accused of the crime, evading arrest to track the real killer.

The Lady Vanishes
The Lady Vanishes
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The Lady Vanishes

Thriller193896 minsDirector: Alfred Hitchcock

An old woman disappears mysteriously on a busy train in Hitchcock’s delightful classic.

Innocence of Memories
Innocence of Memories
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Innocence of Memories

Documentary201597 minsDirector: Grant Gee

A multi-layered melding of fiction and fact, about Nobel prize-winner Orhan Pamuk and his Istanbul Museum of Innocence.


Cobra Verde
Cobra Verde
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Cobra Verde

Drama1987110 minsDirector: Werner Herzog

Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog’s final collaboration is a typically wild and adventurous story of a bandit who trains an army of female savages to overthrow a slave-trading tribal king.

The Castle of Otranto
The Castle of Otranto
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The Castle of Otranto

Animation & Artists Moving Image197718 minsDirector: Jan Svankmajer

Czech animator Jan Švankmajer's adaptation of Horace Walpole's Gothic novel.

Uncle Silas
Uncle Silas
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Uncle Silas

Drama194798 minsDirector: Charles Frank

Gothic chiller based on the novel by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Jean Simmons stars as an heiress pursued by her unbalanced uncle and his perverted son.

The Spy in Black
The Spy in Black
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The Spy in Black

War193979 minsDirector: Michael Powell

A masterful thriller with true flair, The Spy In Black has a much larger importance: it threw Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger together for the first time.

A Night to Remember
A Night to Remember
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A Night to Remember

Disaster1958123 minsDirector: Roy Ward Baker

Widely regarded as the finest film account of the sinking of the Titanic, this moving seafaring disaster tale will grip you from start to finish.

The Lower Depths
The Lower Depths
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The Lower Depths

Drama1957125 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s novel, in which inhabitants of a slum revel in illusions to avoid bitter reality.

In the Fog
In the Fog
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In the Fog

War2012123 minsDirector: Sergei Loznitsa

A suspected Nazi collaborator and his Partisan abductors join forces to escape pursuing German forces, in this vibrantly shot war drama.

High and Low
High and Low
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High and Low

Crime1963143 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa’s procedural crime masterpiece, from Ed McBain’s gritty novel, follows an industrialist who faces an agonising choice as a result of a botched kidnapping by ruthless criminals.

The Devil Rides Out
The Devil Rides Out
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The Devil Rides Out

Horror196795 minsDirector: Terence Fisher

Dennis Wheatley's occult tale is given the Hammer treatment.

Death and The Compass
Death and The Compass
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Death and The Compass

199686 minsDirector: Alex Cox

Alex Cox’s visually stunning, deliciously dark adaptation of the short story by acclaimed Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges.

Mademoiselle Chambon
Mademoiselle Chambon
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Mademoiselle Chambon

Drama2009100 minsDirector: Stéphane Brizé

When a happily married man decides to volunteer at his son’s school, he begins to form a romantic bond with a teacher in this intimate French drama.

It Always Rains on Sunday
It Always Rains on Sunday
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It Always Rains on Sunday

Drama194788 minsDirector: Robert Hamer

Austerity noir? Ealing's downbeat but compelling East End thriller.

Hell Is a City
Hell Is a City
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Hell Is a City

Police drama195996 minsDirector: Val Guest

Punchy crime thriller with a realist streak as Stanley Baker pursues a fugitive through the streets of Manchester.

Whisky Galore!
Whisky Galore!
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Whisky Galore!

Comedy194983 minsDirector: Alexander Mackendrick

Ealing's thirstiest comedy: "the longest unsponsored advertisement ever to reach cinema screens"?

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