It’s becoming more and more common for filmmakers and producers to snap up storylines and plots from books that have already bee published – after all, it’s easier to build on a pre-existing world than to create a completely new one. Plus, often, they’ll also be picking up an already established fanbase. But, movie and TV adaptations of books often have a bad rep…
The Witcher [IMDb: 8.2/10; Goodreads: 4.12/5]
From being a fan of the video game trilogy to playing the leard in the TV adaptaion, Henry Cavill’s role in ‘The Witcher’ post-‘Superman’ probably played a part in the succcess of the series. However, bigger props must be given to Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski who actually introduced ‘The Witcher’ – or rather, Wiedźmin in Polish – to the world in the mid-1980s. Sapkowski first introduced the idea of “witchers”, beast hunters who develop supernatural abilities at a young age to battle wild beasts and monsters, through a series of short stories (15, to be exact) and novels (six). Season 1 of the Netflix series is based on ‘The Last Wish’ and ‘Sword of Destiny’, both short stories preceding the main Witcher saga.
The well-received TV adaptation ranked second as the streaming sites most popular original TV show of 2019, causing the books – whether it be in paperback or hardcover – to sell out on Amazon at one point. It’s no surprise that the show has since been commissioned for a second seasion, with filming wrapping up this April. The Witcher saga is also set to spawn an animated spin-off film titled, ‘The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf and a live-action prequel limited series, ‘The Witcher: Blood Origin.
The Ghost Bride [IMDb: 5.9/10; Goodreads: 3.78/5]
Based on the New York Times bestselling novel of the same name by Malaysian writer Yangsze Choo, ‘The Ghost Bride’ is the first Netflix Mandarin original series to be shot in Malaysia – some of the locations include Perak, Penang, Johor, Taiping, and Ipoh – with local directors Quek Shio-Chuan and Ho Yuhang.
The six-part series is set in 1890s colonial Melaka, with the story centring on Li Lan, who was offered a marriage proposal from a wealthy family to become a “ghost bride” to their recently deceased son. In her desperation to get out of the ghastly union, Li Lan soon finds herself drawn into the Chinese afterlife, where she must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets and the truth about her own family.
The six-part serial also featured a collaboration of talents from Hollywood, Malaysia, and Taiwan. Canadian-Chinese actor Ludi Lin (‘Black Mirror‘, ‘Mortal Kombat’) stars as Tian Bai alongside Taiwanese actors Huang Peijia as Li Lan and Wu Kang Ren as Er Lang.
The White Tiger [IMDb: 7.1/10; Goodreads: 3.75/5]
The movie ‘The White Tiger’ is based on the New York Times bestseller and 2008 Man Booker Prize-winning novel by Indian Australian author Aravind Adiga. Adiga dedicated the book to his close friend Ramin Bahrani, whom he met while attending Columbia University. Bahrani went on to write and directe the film adaptation. In it, we see a young and ambitious Balram, who comes from a poor Indian village. He uses his wit and cunning to escape from poverty, becoming a to chauffeur to the successful small-time entrepreneur Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), who have just returned from America. Though eager to please his rich masters, he soon realises the corrupt lengths they are capable of after a night of betrayal. On the verge of losing everything, Balram rebels against a rigged and unequal system to rise up and become a new kind of master.
Not only was the book prize winning, the movie nabbed the accolade for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ at the 93rd Academy Awards.
What are you waiting for? Dive into the original world of these TV adaptations in their literarly counterparts or catch the page-to-screen adaptations on Netflix.
*Cover image credits: 'The Ghost Bride' published by William Morrow Paperbacks / 'The White Tiger' published by Atlantic Books / 'The Witcher' published by superNOWA