5 Great Movies That Are Also Great Literature

With the slew of book-to-movie adaptations dazzling theaters across the world, there is a new opportunity to encourage people to take up reading. Maybe you are one of those people that need encouraging! Maybe you are one of the countless individuals who died a happy neon-flashing-sparkly death while watching The Great Gatsby or you’ve already starting buying terrifyingly bright makeup so that you can attend the midnight premiere of Catching Fire in style, and from these experiences decided to pursue their original novels. If you are, then you should have your car keys in hand (so you can zip off to McKays) and prepare yourself emotionally, because here comes a list of 5 Great Movies That Were Also Great Literature:

5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – novel by Ken Kesey

That’s right. If you haven’t seen this movie then guess what, the mourning period for Breaking Bad is officially over and it’s time to move on. If you miss immersing yourself in the mind of a man losing his mind, then give this one a try. The novel is even better than the movie (and the movie won 5 Oscars – that is how good this book is). Reading this novel gives you the right to wear argyle sweaters and thick-rimmed glasses with no prescription that you peer through while talking about the facade of mental health institutions. Have you ever had a moment where you realize your narrator could be making up most of the story you are reading? Get yourself trapped in this unnamed psychiatric hospital and live through horrific hallucinations, a tyrant of a head nurse, and the hauntingly small line between people with mental illness and people that society simply doesn’t want to deal with.

4. Adjustment Team – short story by Philip K. Dick

This is a short story that is available on the internet, so you can’t even start blubbering excuses about how expensive it is to go buy books. Go Google this right now. Right now. You can come back to the blog in a minute.

It was super cool, wasn’t it? The film is called The Adjustment Bureau, and it focuses a little too much on fedoras but that’s forgivable. Every once in a while a story arises that just has a wild concept and you can’t help but give it a try. This one is really good if you like religious allegories, or just the sort of “tunnel under the world” concept of people controlling your everyday lives. Enjoy this short story that makes you question if every tiny coincidence – spilling your coffee, losing your keys, sleeping through an alarm – is perhaps because a team of men are flitting about and altering you in order to ensure the stability of the world. Also, the movie has scandalous shots of both Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. You’re welcome.

3. The Woman in Black – novel by Susan Hill.

Did you want to sleep tonight? Good, I didn’t think so. You need to do yourself a favor and ruin your day by going out and reading this novel. It is so scary. If you don’t believe that a novel can scare you then please, accept this challenge and read this novel. If you don’t know what the plot is then I’m not going to tell you, because it is so much scarier if you don’t understand anything that’s about to happen. If you somehow miraculously are not terrified, then turn on the movie. This one does in fact stare the actor that played Harry in Harry Potter, and if this movie doesn’t at least unnerve you then something is medically wrong with you and you need to go to a hospital.

Bonus: there is a play adaptation and it’s a two-person show. What!

2. No Country for Old Men – novel by Cormac McCarthy.

If you read The Road for any class whatsoever you probably just left this web page. That’s super unfortunate; because I thought we were really starting to become friends. If you’re still here then I’ll tell you that there is nothing difficult about reading a McCarthy novel. So you should go pick this up right now. Also, I should inform you that once you’ve opened a McCarthy novel you actually just entered a sacred covenant and you can’t stop reading the book just in case there happens to be a reason that the book is maybe difficult to read. Don’t give up, because this novel is so intense. The antagonist of this novel is like the perfect blend of The Dark Knight’s Joker and Two-Face; a sociopath that leaves death up to coins toss. When you finish this book (and your heart finally stops racing), turn on the movie adaptation that won Best Picture. And no, that’s not the actor that played Snape in Harry Potter. But it’s still good.

1. The Silence of the Lambs – novel by Thomas Harris.

Okay wait I’m too excited to start talking yet.

If you don’t read or watch a single one of the things I have told you about, then please listen to this one. Everything about this is perfect. They are both so good that I honestly don’t know which to recommend first. The novel is more detailed, and will really get you into the story, but the movie has Anthony Hopkins as the cannibalistic mastermind. He won out over Robin Williams and Robert De Niro for Best Actor in this movie, and was only on screen for seventeen minutes. Guys. Guys. However, the literature is so good, and gives you the opportunity to enjoy three wonderful novels (don’t watch the movie version of Hannibal. Just trust me). It’s dark, twisted, and has a lot of great psychological and feminist perspectives. Harris will keep you on your toes and will astound you chapter after chapter. Give this one a try. I promise you will not regret it.

— Rachel Smith