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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 while completely reimagining the story in their transition to the big screen.

 

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A Man EscapedA Man Escaped

Drama1956101 minsDirector: Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson’s riveting tale of a Gestapo prisoner determined to regain his freedom, based on real events.

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OldboyOldboy

Thriller2003120 minsDirector: Park Chan-wook

Park’s wilfully grotesque fable about an abductee trying to fathom the mysteries of his past.

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The HandmaidenThe Handmaiden

Period drama2016146 minsDirector: Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, Stoker) channels Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, to create a sumptuous twisty psychological thriller full of erotic intrigue.

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John and the HoleJohn and the Hole

Drama2021103 minsDirector: Pascual Sisto

A troubled teenager holds his family captive in this gripping psychological thriller starring Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Ehle as his parents.

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Mademoiselle ChambonMademoiselle 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.

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The Leather BoysThe Leather Boys

Drama1964107 minsDirector: Sidney J. Furie

A newlywed biker becomes disenchanted with married life after joining a motorcycle gang, in one of British cinema's earliest sympathetic depictions of a gay working class man.

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MetropolisMetropolis

Science Fiction1927150 minsSilentDirector: Fritz Lang

Fritz Lang’s expressionist, dystopian vision is one of the first science fiction feature films, and is arguably the most influential.

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Old BoysOld Boys

Comedy201795 minsDirector: Toby MacDonald

Charmingly idiosyncratic comedy reworking of Cyrano de Bergerac, with Alex Lawther as a boarder who helps the school hero woo a French teacher's daughter despite being besotted with her himself.

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The Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Miseducation of Cameron Post

Drama201792 minsDirector: Desiree Akhavan

Desiree Akhavan’s award-winning follow-up to Appropriate Behaviour, with Chloë Grace Moretz as a teen sent to a gay conversion camp.

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RafikiRafiki

Drama201883 minsDirector: Wanuri Kahiu

Romantic sparks fly between the daughters of two opposing politicians in Wanuri Kahiu’s neon-bright story of forbidden love in Kenya.

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The Painted BirdThe Painted Bird

Drama2019169 minsDirector: Vaclav Marhoul

Based on Jerzy Kosiński’s 1965 novel and a long time in the making, Václav Marhoul’s extraordinary The Painted Bird finds a lone Jewish boy on a dark odyssey towards home during wartime.

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AniaraAniara

Science Fiction2018106 minsDirector: Pella Kågerman

The passengers on an interstellar space-liner are thrown into turmoil when their mission goes off course, in this compassionate and thought-provoking sci-fi drama.

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Ghost WorldGhost World

Comedy2001107 minsDirector: Terry Zwigoff

Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch star as a pair of social outcasts struggling to make sense of the world around them, in this sublime love story based on the work of underground artist Daniel Clowes.

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The Angelic ConversationThe Angelic Conversation

Animation & Artists Moving Image198581 minsDirector: Derek Jarman

The Angelic Conversation sees Derek Jarman conjure an evocative and radical visualisation of Shakespeare’s love poems. With narration by Judi Dench and music by Coil.

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KwaidanKwaidan

Horror1964183 minsDirector: Masaki Kobayashi

This stunningly beautiful anthology of Japanese ghost stories is one of the most meticulously crafted supernatural films ever made.

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Love & FriendshipLove & Friendship

Comedy201693 minsDirector: Whit Stillman

Whit Stillman crosses the Atlantic for this irresistible Jane Austen adaptation, following the delicious and devious exploits of Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale).

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Black OrpheusBlack Orpheus

Romance1959107 minsDirector: Marcel Camus

Academy Award and Palme d'Or-winning adaption of the Orpheus myth, incorporating the music, costume and dance of Brazil’s Rio Festival.

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Fantastic PlanetFantastic 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.

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Les Enfants TerriblesLes 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.

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Nosferatu the VampyreNosferatu 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.

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The New GirlfriendThe New Girlfriend

Melodrama2014108 minsDirector: François Ozon

Ruth Rendell provides the source novel for this delicious tale of deception and identity, from the master of mischievous melodrama, François Ozon.

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ZamaZama

Drama2017115 minsDirector: Lucrecia Martel

Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel returns with a fine adaptation of Antonio Di Benedetto’s existential novel. In her first feature since 2008’s The Headless Woman, Martel creates a richly layered exploration of personal malaise.

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High and LowHigh 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.

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CrashCrash

Drama1996100 minsDirector: David Cronenberg

Technology and sexuality meet in head-on collision in David Cronenberg’s controversial adaptation of writer J.G. Ballard’s hugely transgressive 1973 novel, starring James Spader and Holly Hunter.

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Cobra VerdeCobra 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 women to topple a slave-trading king.

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Sixth HappinessSixth Happiness

Biopic199794 minsDirector: Waris Hussein

Funny, acerbic and moving story of a young man's sexual awakening as family life crumbles around him.

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The Saragossa ManuscriptThe Saragossa Manuscript

Fantasy1965183 minsDirector: Wojciech Jerzy Has

During the Napoleonic wars, a soldier discovers a strange manuscript that reveals endless stories-within-stories. Wojciech Has' opus is a major cult film of the 60s, revered by Luis Buñuel, David Lynch and Jerry Garcia.

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This Filthy EarthThis Filthy Earth

Drama2001106 minsDirector: Andrew Kötting

Andrew Kötting's tragic tale of passion and survival, following the existence of two sisters amidst a landscape of rural hardship and a community consumed with superstition

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The Kreutzer SonataThe Kreutzer Sonata

Drama200896 minsDirector: Bernard Rose

Bernard Rose updates Tolstoy's tale about the corrupting power of sex and jealousy, with Danny Huston as the wealthy husband of a beautiful, famous pianist (Elisabeth Röhm).

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