A common feature on blogs is the so-called Thursday Thirteen in which you can share a list of thirteen things, books, movies and what not. I’ve never done this so far but since I’ve hit a dry movie-watching patch and don’t want to stop blogging entirely I thought, why not?
While a great many war movies are based on original screenplays, many, and even some of the best and most famous, are based on novels. Here are thirteen war movies based on novels:
- The Thin Red Line (1998) – based on the novel by James Jones
- Catch 22 (1970) – based on the novel by Joseph Heller
- 300 (2006) – based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller
- Ben Hur (1959) – based on the novel by Lewis Wallace
- Enigma (20019 – based on the novel by Robert Harris
- Behind the Lines aka Regeneration (1997) – based on the novel by Pat Barker
- All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) – based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque
- Schindler’s List (1993) – based on the novel by Thomas Keneally
- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) – based on the novel by Pierre Boulle
- Dances with Wolves (1990) – based on the novel by Michael Blake
- Cold Mountain (2003) based on the novel by Charles Frazier
- War Horse (2011) – based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo
- Slaughterhouse Five (1972) based on the novel by Kurt Vonnegut
I have only read three of the books (Regeneration aka Behind the Lines, All Quiet on the Western Front and Cold Mountain) but seen almost all of the movies. Is there a book among my thirteen I shouldn’t miss or another novel/movie pair which is worth mentioning?
A Farewell to Arms
For Whom the Bell Tolls
From Here to Eternity
The Cruel Sea
The Purple Plain
The Four Feathers
A Town Like Alice
Ice Cold in Alex
A Taxi to Tobruk
The Young Lions
The Guns of Navarone
The Virgin Soldiers
Shout At the Devil
The Eagle Has Landed
An Indecent Obsession
The Empire of the Sun
Thanks a lot, that’s quite a list. I’ve read the Hemingways but hardly any of the others. I’ve read Bird Song but not Charlotte Gray.
Some should be very good books, I guess.
Mo Yan’s Hong gao liang jia zu (Red Sorghum, 1987, imdb)
Other works by Nobel laureates:
Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Ogniem i mieczem (ibid., 1999, imdb)
Pearl Buck’s China Sky (ibid., 1945, imdb)
Ernest Hemingway – see Jack’s listing, plus To Have and Have Not (ibid., 1944, imdb)
Boris Pasternak’s Doktor Zhivago (Doctor Zhivago, 1965, imdb)
John Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down (ibid., 1943, imdb)
Michail Aleksandrovich Sokholov’s Tikhiy Don (ibid., 1958, imdb)
Günther Grass’ Die Blechtrommel (ibid., 1979, imdb) and Katz und Maus (ibid., 1967, imdb)
Imre Kertész’ Sorstalanság (ibid., 2005, imdb)
Mario Vargas Llosa’s La ciudad y los perros (ibid., 1985, imdb)
Pierre Boulle’s Le pont de la rivière Kwaï (The Bridge on the River Kwaï, 1957, imdb)
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (Apocalypse Now, 1979, imdb)
Nigel Balchin’s The Small Back Room (ibid., 1949, review)
Joseph Kessel’s L’Armée des ombres (ibid., 1969, review)
Marc Dugain’s La Chambre des officiers (ibid., 2001, review)
Arnold Zweig’s Der Streit um den Sergeanten Grischa (The Case of Sergeant Grisha, 1930, imdb)
Roland Dorgelès’ Les Croix de bois (ibid., 1932, imdb)
Francis Yeats-Brown’s The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (ibid., 1935, imdb)
P.C. Wren’s Beau Geste (ibid., 1939, imdb)
Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage (ibid., 1951, imdb)
Ooka Shohei’s Nobi (Fires on the Plain, 1959, imdb)
Gomikawa Jumpei’s Ningen no jôken (ibid., 1959, imdb)
Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day (ibid., 1962, imdb)
Robert Merle’s Weekend à Zuydcoote (ibid., 1964, imdb)
Richard Hooker’s MASH (ibid., 1968, imdb)
Emilio Lussu’s Uomini contro (ibid., 1970, imdb)
Marc Dugain’s La Chambre des officiers (ibid., 2001, review)
Geling Yan’s Jinling shi san chai (The Flowers of War, 2011, imdb)
+ There’s a huge list of lists on wikipedia.
I wanted to limit it to 13 but I’m glad for all the additions. Thank you so much.
I’m still looking for the one or the other book for next year’s Literature and War Readalong.
I bought La chambre des officiers but after having watched the movie and been sick for hours afterwards I refrained from reading it. I need to check the page counts for Geling Yan and Mo Yan. They tempt me the most.
Some really nice choices I had totally not thought about as well and some that are somewhere here still unread.
Sorry for the River Kwaï, you had already mentioned it. I think Heart of Darkness, though a novella, deserves to make the 13, as well as Kertész’s Sorstalanság (in French: Être sans destin) but this one surely won’t cheer you up either…
As far as the rest of my list is concerned, just like you I’ve seen most movies but have only read a handful of the source books.
My choices included quite a few which are probably not as good as some on yours. I had the Dugain on mine first but kicked it out for the more famous children’s novel War Horse.
I have read Conrad but never Heart of Darkness although I’ve got it and should get to it.
I have read a few of the 13.
The Thin Red Line – the movie leaves out a few characters; slight edge to the movie
300 – faithful rendering of the graphic novel; movie is better than the book
All Quiet – book is superior, although both are great
Dances With Wolves – movie is very close to the book; movie is better
Cold Mountain – the movie is good, but the book has more depth; a good case for watching the movie first
If you want which 100 Greatest are based on novels, let me know.
No, that’s too much effort, I think you mention it at the beginning of your posts. I can have a look.
I certianly agree on All Quiet… the book is better but the movie did a decent job as well. Cold Mountain is better in book form.
I’m going to be a bit controversial….I thought the Thin Red Line sucked.
No wait! Hear me out 😉
Every time I sit down to watch it its an effort to watch. It constantly makes me think – this is how an Arts student would do a war movie. Full of cardboard cut out characters, dialogue that alternates between comic book stereotypes and arthouse wank. Visually its stunning but its a let down overall.
I’ve wrote a 5 part piece on The Thin Red Line and why I think it’s possibly the best war movie.
But – I still haven’t finalized and published part 5.
You’re not alone with this opinion. However i don’t think it’s that artsy it’s just about other topics, more philosophical.
Here are the links. Not that I want to convince you, just maybe it’s worth seeing it from another point of view.
“Cross of Iron” by Willi Heinrich
“The Unknown Soldier” by Väinö Linna (filmed in 1955 and 1985)
Ah, thanks, I didn’t know Cross of Iron was based on a novel. That would be interesting to read.
And I didn’t know the other one at all. Thanks.