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6 Stunning Film Adaptations of Classic Stories

Adapting the classics is a dangerous business. There is always the risk of missing the cast, redrawing the plot, and angering loyal fans. But there are many films, the creators of which have tried their best. They treated the original with care and selected the most talented actors for the main roles.

We adore world classics and are in a hurry to share films that will be interesting both to those who have read these works and to those who have not yet got their hands on them. After watching, you may even want to take a closer look at the original sources.

Howards End (1991)

Original Source: Howards End by E. M. Forster

Cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson

The film shows the English countryside of the early 20th century. All events revolve around the picturesque Howards End. Its owner is ready to give her soul to God, so she bequeaths the estate to one young woman. But, as expected, the relatives were not happy about such a turn, therefore they hide the decision of the generous donor from everyone and destroy the document. But by doing so, they only made the situation worse.

IMDB rating: 7,4

The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

Original Source: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Cast: Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench

This film adaptation will make anyone laugh. Gwendoline and Cecily dream of getting married. There is only one important condition: a potential spouse must be called Ernest. Because this particular name is perfect for the serious young man of their dreams.

Two frivolous aristocrats, John and Algernon, are in love with girls. And to meet their funny expectations, they introduce themselves as Ernest. John begins to court Gwendoline, and Algernon begins to court Cecily. Of course, their lies will not go unnoticed.

IMDB rating: 6,8

Tess of the D’Urbervilles (2008)

Original Source: Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urberwills. 

Cast: Gemma Arterton, Eddie Redmayne, Hans Matheson

In 4 episodes, viewers are told about the difficult life of a girl named Tess Darbeyfield. Her life changes dramatically when her father accidentally finds out that they are descendants of the ancient knightly family of the D’Urberville. The head of the family, in joy, quits his job and in local taverns boasts of his noble pedigree. Tess is forced to shoulder the care of loved ones on her fragile shoulders, but in the future, this decision will cost her dearly.

IMDB rating: 7,7

Lady Macbeth (2016)

Original source: the story of N. L. Leskov “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk district”

Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis

Unlike the original, the action takes place in Victorian England. Young homeless woman Catherine is married off to a rich and already middle-aged Alexander. The house is dominated by patriarchal customs: the girl is forbidden even to go out for a walk. Her only task is to give birth to an heir. Her husband and father-in-law are dismissive of Katherine, the girl feels incredibly lonely.

But one day Alexander leaves for a long time for business. His unhappy young wife is left alone in the company of servants. And from that moment on, Katherine’s life turns upside down.

IMDB rating: 6,8

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Original Source: Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility

Cast: Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant

The story centers on the fate of the Dashwood sisters. The girls are completely different from each other: Ellinor is restrained and reasonable, and Marianne is passionate and impulsive. But, despite the difference in characters, the sisters get along well. Their life flows quietly and calmly, but one day grief comes to the house: the father dies and transfers all the state to his son from his first marriage. The Dashwoods find themselves in a difficult situation, so they move to a distant relative.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)

Original Source: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci, Christian Bale

The original was slightly modernized, but this did not spoil it in the least. The film has retained Shakespeare’s lightness and gaiety. A group of young actors relax in the Tuscan sun and ride bicycles. By chance, they find the secret home of fairies, satyrs and river nymphs. And they become participants in magical love intrigues.

IMDB rating: 6,4