Fire Island and 9 other modern updates on classic literature

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Among Hulu’s most interesting recent arrivals, Fire Island is an LGBT-themed romantic comedy that received rave reviews for its excellent cast and funny, sweet look at same-sex relationships. It is also the latest in a long line of modernized adaptations of Jane Austen, heavily inspired by Pride and Prejudice.

Modern updates to classic literature are nothing new, having been a popular way to bring adaptation to the screen from the early days of cinema. These films draw from a wide variety of sources, often centuries-old, and have found a way to make them work as stories of the present.

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ten 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)


Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You in 1999.

To prove that teen romance can attract viewers who are not part of the target demographic, 10 things i hate about you earned positive reviews and served as a breakout film for Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. To make matters better, he has a Shakespearean pedigree, being a high school The Taming of the Shrew.

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Although the Bard’s plays might seem odd for a late ’90s teen movie, high schools actually make perfect sense as a setting for modernized adaptations of Shakespeare, their rigid cliques and dating conventions being a good fit. analogue for 16th/17th century social class relations. and the court traditions of the nobility.


9 Apocalypse Now (1979)


Kilgore points to the waves in Apocalypse Now

Although Revelation now is one of the quintessential Vietnam War films, its roots actually date back to 1899, when Joseph Conrad’s short story heart of darkness has been published. Screenwriter John Milius had been interested in adapting the book for some time and combined with Francis Ford Coppola’s excellent direction, his screenplay spawned a tense and disturbing descent into madness.

Literature lovers would probably have seen many parallels between hearts of darkness and Revelation now even if the film is not directly inspired by it. The former focuses on how the Congo Free State abused and exploited local Africans, while the latter is set during a war in which America fought a post-colonial nation, with often disastrous results.


8 Cast Away (2000)


chuck countdown the days he was blocked

Widely considered one of the best films about loneliness, Castaway is a gripping story of survival that features one of Tom Hanks’ best performances, as well as a more subtle, character-driven side to Robert Zemeckis’ repertoire. While officially an original screenplay, the film also bears more than a passing resemblance to Daniel Defoe’s. Robinson Crusoe.

The film and book follow the lone survivor of a disaster that leaves them stranded on a remote island, struggling for years to make a living with a companion with whom he can only tenuously communicate. In reality, Castaway is so loved, and straight adaptations of Robinson Crusoe are so rare, it might as well be the definitive adaptation.


seven Carefree (1995)


Alicia Silverstone in Clueless

Like William Shakespeare’s plays, Jane Austen’s books are surprisingly ripe for teen movies, and clueless is an equally good adaptation of Emma like any of the officials. The story of high school matchmaker Cher Horowitz struck a chord with 90s kids, with the film gaining a cult following after far surpassing its initial box office performance.

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While the cast of clueless, including Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy and Paul Rudd, deserve a lot of credit for making it so popular, what makes it truly iconic is the dialogue. The script is filled with slang and turns of phrase that are both ridiculous and genuine, giving the film a charming time capsule status that few of its era can quite match.


6 Coriolanus (2011)


As popular as they are, modern adaptations of Shakespeare are difficult to make work, with social mores having changed so much in the hundreds of years since his life that they can seem bizarre. Fortunately, Ralph Fiennes Coriolanusbased on one of Shakespeare’s most obscure plays, transposes the source material into modern times to great effect.

The story of the downfall of a brilliant but arrogant general, the film shifts the action from ancient Rome to a Balkan setting, making themes of the brutality of war resonate with audiences today. Fiennes also gives an excellent performance as the main character, his fate being quite tragic even though the film never downplays his loathsome qualities.


5 Island of Fire (2022)


Charlie, Will and Braden at Fire Island

Hulu has released some great original movies over the past few years, and judging by its high critical ratings, Fire Island might be their hottest ticket of the summer. Taking the plot from Pride and Prejudice and set in the popular gay resort town near Long Island, the film proves that, despite the huge amount of Jane Austen adaptations, they can still be made with a fresh perspective.

What really sets the film apart from the rom-com crowd is its excellent cast, especially writer Joel Kim Booster starring as Lizzie Bennett’s equivalent, Noah. A rising star in the stand-up world, Booster’s performance helps keep the film grounded even when the humor gets searing.


4 Ghost of Heaven (1974)


Ghost of Heaven 1974

Whereas The Phantom of the Opera may be a beloved musical with legions of fans, it’s not the first musical adaptation of the book, and Brian de Palma ghost of paradise takes the story into full-fledged rock opera territory. The film was a box office failure in 1974, but quickly became a huge cult hit, almost feeling like a glimpse of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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Not only is the film a unique riff on Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom, but it also draws inspiration from other classics like Faust and Dorian Gray’s photo, particularly regarding protagonist Winslow Leach’s deal with the devil, in the form of sleazy music producer Swan. By drawing on so many influences, and combining so many genres, ghost of paradise stands out as one of the most unique musicals of the 70s.




3 Roxane (1987)


Dixie reaches out to touch Roxanne's CD nose

by Edmond Rostand Cyrano de Bergerac may have recently gotten a critically acclaimed adaptation starring Peter Dinklage, but this Steve Martin comedy makes for a great companion. Set in a small town in 1980s America rather than 17th century France, Roxane is a heartwarming tale about the pursuit of love as well as a hilarious comedy.

Martin himself makes it all work so well, giving audiences one of his finest characters in CD Bales, a fire chief who can seemingly do anything but gain the confidence to seduce the woman of his dreams. He plays his modern-day Cyrano with excellent timing and comedic sensibility, making him a likeable protagonist that viewers will follow every step of the way.


2 Scrooged (1988)


A cynical comedy that still has plenty of Christmas cheer, Scrooged proves that the stories of A Christmas Carol can make audiences laugh and tug at their heartstrings. Although the film received mixed reviews and was only a modest success at the box office, its stature has grown over the years and it is now shown heavily during the holidays.

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One of the most interesting things about Scrooged is that it proves just how timeless the Dickens story is, with Frank Cross being Scrooge’s perfect equivalent for the ’80s, a decade marked by a resurgence of interest in the dangers of corporate greed. Bill Murray’s performance also gives insight into his acting range, with Cross being both hilarious and incredibly sinister before his redemption.


1 War of the Worlds (2005)


Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds

HG Wells’ sci-fi classic has been adapted to meet the needs of new eras so often that it’s surprising that a new version is actually set in the original’s Victorian era. It’s easy to see why, since the fear of the unknown, earthly or otherwise, is a powerful theme that transcends time and space.

Spielberg’s point of view War of the Worlds It’s not often talked about today, but it has admirers who consider it a forgotten gem of 2000s blockbuster cinema. Although the sets are impressive, the film works best at its best. intimate, with its thriller elements effectively illustrating how paranoia would overtake so many in the event of an alien invasion.

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Split image showing Thor in Love and Thunder and in a painting.


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