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Forget ‘Twilight’, Real Literature Coming to Silver Screen

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After a year marred by the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon and the final film of The Twilight Saga, literature fans can finally find some relief on the silver screen. Three classic novels are coming to life at a theater near you.

If you swooned over the love stories in Fifty Shades and Twilight, then get thee to the theater ASAP to witness a true epic romance in Anna Karenina.  Released on November 18, this film tells Leo Tolstoy’s tragedy of the aristocratic title character (played by Keira Knightley, Hollywood’s go-to actress for 19th-century women), who engages in a passionate affair with Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

For me, Christmas will come…on Christmas Day, when Les Miserables opens. While Victor Hugo’s tale has been presented on film before, this is the first time that the musical based on the book has been adapted into a movie.  This film boasts an all-star cast led by director Tom Hooper, who won an Oscar for The King’s Speech.  Hugh Jackman plays Jean Valjean, an escaped convict who struggles to redeem himself and to elude the inexorable Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) over the course of two decades. 

Anne Hathaway plays factory worker-turned-prostitute Fantine.  Valjean promises to adopt and protect Fantine’s illegitimate daughter Cosette from the crooked Thenardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter).  Cosette grows up to be played by Amanda Seyfried and to fall in love with revolutionary Marius (Eddie Redmayne), whom the Thenardiers’ daughter Eponine (Samantha Barks, who played the role in the West End production and in the 25th Anniversary concert) secretly also loves. 

Hooper required the actors to sing live on camera, a technique that has never been used before.  As of press time, 10 out of 26 experts on award predicting website Gold Derby have pegged the film for Best Picture Oscar.

If 19th-century Russia and France aren’t your cup of moonshine, you can look forward to The Great Gatsby, coming to theaters on May 10 (originally intended for release on December 25).  Director Baz Luhrmann (Australia, Moulin Rouge!) looks to be putting a unique twist on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Roaring Twenties novel.  The trailer contains songs such as “No Church in the Wild” by Jay-Z and Kanye West, and the film will be released in 3-D. 

Leonardo DiCaprio will play the title character and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, known for throwing lavish parties. Tobey Maguire will play Nick Carraway, the novel’s narrator who lives next door to Gatsby.  Carey Mulligan will play the shallow Daisy Buchanan, Nick’s second cousin who is torn between her rich husband Tom (Joel Edgerton) and Gatsby.

We book nerds can rejoice that some of our favorite classics are finally coming to the mainstream box office.  Hollywood is not known for originality, but at least they’re realizing that some of their richest source material have been literary masterpieces for decades.

Tweet Melissa with your movie recs at @melissak_lee.

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