Classic Remarks: Classic Work that Needs a Film/TV Adaptation

This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: What classic work should get a film/TV adaptation? It’s kind of a funny question because so many of my favorite classics have been adapted for the screen, often more than once. Great example is Pride and Prejudice which, off the top of my head, has four adaptations I love.

In fact, as I’m looking through my list, I don’t see any books that I think would make great films that haven’t had an adaptation. However, many of those adaptations are older, and I’m not a super fan of classic films. Nor am I a huge fan of the BBC Miniseries (I know, revoke my P&P fanclub card). So I have two suggestions to all of the major film studios who I know read my blog.

The first is that I would love to see The Scarlet Pimpernel get a 21st century update. Disney would do a great job, and I would love to see the team that worked on the original Pirates of the Caribbean bring one of my favorite books to life. It has everything a great blockbuster needs: romance, action, mystery, disguises, guillotines, British accents, French accents, period dress.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a classic that, in my opinion, doesn’t get enough attention, probably because it isn’t “literary” enough. But alll of the things that cause it to not get taken as seriously by the literature world are the exact things that would make for an excellent blockbuster film. It’s the story of a band of British nobleman who form a secret society to sneak the French nobility out of the country before they can be executed. A French actress name Marguerite is blackmailed into finding the identity of their leader, the dashing Scarlet Pimpernel, but at the risk of losing her husband forever. We could all use a little more French Revolution in our theaters, so I say give the people what they want: attractive men in period dress running amok with swords and kissing lovely women!

My second suggestion is inspired by Clueless, a 1990s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. I LOVE Emma, and I love Clueless almost as much. One of my favorite Austen novels, Northanger Abbey, would be well-suited to a similar modern retelling.

Of all of Austen’s novels, Northanger Abbey is the one that, I think, is most relevant to modern teens. I addresses mean girls, fangirls, how awkward teens can be around people they like, classism, and being true to yourself. Northanger Abbey tells the story of Catherine, a young woman who enjoys Gothic romances a little too much, and whose inability to tell reality from fiction gets her into a lot of trouble. She is introduced to society for the first time, makes friends for the first time, and falls in love for the first time. There’s so much in this story that would make for an excellent teen rom-com, though certainly the heyday for classic retellings via teen comedies is long past.

Do you have a favorite classic that you think could use a great adaptation?

17 thoughts on “Classic Remarks: Classic Work that Needs a Film/TV Adaptation

  1. There was an adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Richard E Grant and Elizabeth McGovern. I think it was for PBS. There’s also an adaptation of Northanger Abbey starring Felicity Jones. I think it was also a PBS show. They were both fun. Not the greatest ever, but they had their merits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These are both books that while I know adaptations exist, I haven’t gone out of my way to watch any of them. If they were on PBS they were probably by BBC, and for some reason I don’t usually enjoy their classic adaptations.

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  2. Oh my gosh! This is so perfect! Years ago, I said I wanted to see Disney do Scarlet Pimpernel like they did the animated Hunchback of Notre Dame and my friend thought I was crazy. But. I love the idea of a live-action film, too! Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my favorites, and it doesn’t seem to get as much attention. Part of that is, I think, because it’s really a classic that appeals to a popular audience, which I guess makes it not literary enough–but also, as you point out, perfect for a film release! Yeah, there have been previous films, but every film gets remade eventually, so why not this one?

    And, oh yeah, I’d love a modern adaptation of Northanger Abbey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They’ve done some great modernizations of Zorro and The Three Muskateersa and all of those other swashbuckling classics, it’s time for Percy and Marguerite to get their turn! Definitely a Scarlet Pimpernell animated feature would be less disturbing than Hunchback. That priest was flippin upsetting. I can’t believe our parents were okay with us watching that stuff, lol

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes! The fire song is sooo creepy! It’s called “Hellfire” so I guess that makes sense? When I was growing up, it mostly bored and confused me, and I wanted to see more of Esmeralda. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re absolutely right, Northanger Abbey would be such a great modern rom-com! How come no one has ever done that? Please go to Hollywood and pitch this idea asap so we can all enjoy it 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

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