Literary Cinema: What’s Left for 2012?

Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby may have been delayed till next summer, but on the heels of The Hunger Games, Cosmopolis, The Woman in Black, Bel Ami, John Carter (based on A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs), and the two Snow White films—Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman, come many more delights for book lovers for the rest of 2012.

Anna Karenina—7 September
After the success of Atonement and Pride and Prejudice, director Joe Wright is back with another epic love story (and tragedy), this time taking on a beloved Leo Tolstoy classic. Scandal unravels when Anna, a married aristocrat and socialite, indulges in a love affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. In 19th-century Russian high society, this cannot be seen as anything but a big mistake. She wants Vronsky but she is also vulnerable to the pressures of Russian social norms and her own insecurities. Expect a drama-fuelled film about how relationships and high passions are tested to their limits. The stellar cast includes the director’s favourite Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Johnson (also English, relatively unknown).

Lawless—7 September
Rule breaking reaches chaotic new heights in this John Hillcoat film. Set during the Great Depression, the film explores the true story of the Bondurants, three brothers who attempt to make a living from bootlegging moonshine. Adapted from The Wettest County in the World, a historical novel by Matt Bondurant, who is a direct descendent of the leading characters, it should be gripping to see trouble and violence unfold under the suppressing prohibition. Starring Shia Labeouf, Guy Pearce, Tom Hardy (Bane in The Dark Knight Rises), and Jessica Chastain (The Help).

The Perks of being a Wallflower—3 October 
Stephen Chbosky’s critically acclaimed novel is the perfect adaption for all teenage misfits of the past. Chronicling the life of Charlie, a socially awkward freshman trying to make his way through high school, you can expect to see all the turbulence that comes with the days of growing up. As Chbosky himself takes on the role of director, it will be interesting to see how he brings his own coming-of-age tale to the big screen. Starring Logan Lerman as the protagonist. It will also be exciting to watch Emma Watson in yet another film post-Harry Potter fame (the last one was My Week with Marilyn).

On The Road—12 October
Relive Jack Kerouac’s heart-stirring road adventures with Walter Salle’s adaptation. Budding writer Sal Paradise is stuck for words and ideas so he takes off on a journey over America that turns out to be more than a literary education. From the trailer alone, the film looks like it beautifully captures all the fun that’s to be had when you’re young, free-spirited, and not afraid to “burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars”, though the film seems to have tweaked this line for a shorter, catchier version. Starring Kristen Stewart (now seemingly better known for cheating on Robert Pattinson), Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy, Country Strong) and relative unknown Sam Riley.

Midnight’s Children
—14 & 15 October (London Film Festival)

Based on the 1981 Man Booker prize-winning novel by Salman Rushdie, the author has often described it as his love letter to India. It is an allegorical epic that parallels the upheavals in the Sinai family’s history with India’s transition from British colonialism to independence and the partition of India, with touches of magical realism. This isn’t the first time an adaptation has been attempted. In the late 1990s, the BBC planned to adapt the novel into a miniseries, but the project was tanked due to pressure from Sri Lanka’s Muslim community. This year’s adaptation for the big screen is directed by Deepa Mehta, and though many book and film lovers all over the world will see it, it seems that the people of Rushdie’s native country will not.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
—18 & 21 October (London Film Festival)
This is based on the 2007 bestselling novel by Pakistani author Mohsin Ahmad. The story takes place in a single evening, outside a café in a district of Lahore. A bearded man named Changez meets an American traveller and tells him his life story, starting with his love affair with America—his student days at Princeton, his successful career on Wall Street, and his romance with an American woman. When 9/11 hits, however, he starts to question everything, struggling to make sense of the division he feels between his American self and his Pakistani self. It is both political and philosophical, and makes us question the most essential part of ourselves.

Great Expectations—30 November
There are high hopes for Mike Newell’s adaptation of this Dickens classic. Life turns around for young orphan Pip when he is funded by an unknown benefactor, which helps him along to become a gentleman and artist in London. The source of his good fortune is slowly revealed, and his past eventually catches up with him. Having to live with the pain of unrequited love and the indiscriminate revenge of the bitter spinster Miss Havisham, Pip soon learns how one encounter can have reverberating consequences for the rest of your life. With a cast that boasts Ralph Fiennes and the eccentric Helena Bonham Carter, this can’t possibly disappoint.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—14 December
Voyage back to Middle Earth as J. R. R Tolkein’s The Hobbit comes to the big screen. Telling the story of character Bilbo Baggin’s endeavours to reclaim the dwarf kingdom of Erebor, audiences will witness the fantastical and the frightening as Bilbo and thirteen dwarves take many risks in the wild to win back all which was once lost to dragon Smaug. Director Peter Jackson also seems determined to portray the adventure tale as nothing less than epic. This film will be just the first in a trilogy of films that fans can look forward to.

Life of Pi—21 December
The Taiwanese-born director Ang Lee of Brokeback Mountain fame uses surrealist imagery to bring author Yann Martel’s novel to life. Winner of the 2002 Man Booker prize, Life of Pi tells the story of a young boy who ends up shipwrecked on a boat of animals, including a wounded zebra and a bengali tiger. It sounds simple, but this fantasy plot brings up questions of spirituality, faith, and human will. From this still itself, it’s bound to be thought-provoking visual delight.

Natasha Levy

Natasha Levy

Natasha Levy is a 19-year-old student currently studying at Brunel University for a degree in English literature. She has recently interned for other magazines including Notion and ShortList, and hopes one day to become an arts and culture writer. She loves Italy, obsessing over a great book, and a good milky cup of tea.

Natasha Levy is a 19-year-old student currently studying at Brunel University for a degree in English literature. She has recently interned for other magazines including Notion and ShortList, and hopes one day to become an arts and culture writer. She loves Italy, obsessing over a great book, and a good milky cup of tea.

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