14 June, 2007

Bernard Cornwell's 'Sharpe' adventures

One of the UK digital channels has been re-running some of the TV adaptations of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels this week, which has been a welcome diversion. I'd forgotten how good they are. For anyone who's not familiar with the series, it's a sequence of military adventure stories featuring the dramatic and romantic exploits of Richard Sharpe, a fictional officer with the British 95th Rifles during the Napoleonic Wars in Spain. Sean Bean looked even better in 1993 when the first film was made, and David Troughton makes a perfect Lord Wellington.

I've read most of the Sharpe novels as well, and I'm struck by how well they translate to the screen. The screenplays differ from the novels, but they are just as good. Which I think is quite rare - most screen adaptations seem to lose something of the story compared with the original novel, and very few improve on it. I can only think of Hunt for Red October where I thought the film was better than the book (and not just because Sean Connery was in it, either).

Do you have a favourite screen adaptation of a novel?

By the way, posts will be erratic for a couple of weeks as my computer was trashed by a lightning strike a few days ago (What did I say or do to annoy Red-bearded Thunor/Thor?). Normal service will be resumed when I get a repair or replacement. Don't go away.

13 comments:

Susan Higginbotham said...

I'm usually disappointed with screen adaptations, but I did enjoy the movie of Persuasion with Amanda Root a few years ago. I also liked the 1990's TV adaptation of Our Mutual Friend a great deal.

Try to stay on Thor's good side from now on.

Bernita said...

Threw mjolnor at you, did he? Were you consorting with trolls?
It is so satisfying when adaptations maintain the essential qualities of the original.

Daphne said...

I really liked the Lord of the Rings movies. I know they changed some stuff around in them, but I enjoy watching them.

Carla said...

Susan - was that the Persuasion that had Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth? I get the different versions all mixed up.

Bernita - If it had been Mjollnir would I be here to tell the tale? No trolls round here to my knowledge, though I had an ex-boss once who might have fitted the description...

Daphne - I liked the Lord of the Rings films too - even though I'd have liked a lot more of Faramir :-)

Gabriele C. said...

Argh, German TV buys every crap show they can get, but Sharpe? No way. *sniff*

Hehe, LOTR should have a had a lot more Eomer. :)

Carla said...

Gabriele - pity they don't buy Sharpe. I wonder why not? I can understand that it might not play too well in France, but why Germany?

Gabriele C. said...

Because you have to pay a fee here no matter what muck they send, and thus no one cares about anything but buying stuff cheaply.

Alianore said...

My fiancé has the entire set of Sharpe on DVD, but I've never seen an entire episode, only bits and pieces.

I loved the Lord of the Rings adaptations, too. And can confirm the general rubbishness of German TV. ;)

Gabriele C. said...

Not that British TV is that much better, though, except for Sharpe. :)

Constance said...

I read the Sharpe novels years ago, didn't know they made a tv production of them. A Sean Bean version? *drool*

One of my favorite adaptations is an obscure little film called Nobody's Fool with Paul Newman. It followed the spirit of the book perfectly.

Susan Higginbotham said...

Carla, that was the Persuasion with Hinds.

Rick said...

Try not to displease the gods again!

I could definitely have stood more Galadriel and/or Eowyn, but Lord of the Rings really did remarkably well - including getting more mileage out of Eowyn than the books did.

Really, I never imagined that anyone could do LOTR so well.

Carla said...

Thanks, all! Constance - the Sharpe series was made 10-15 years ago and Sean Bean looked even better then.

Susan - thanks for confirming. I liked that Persuasion too, apart from the kiss in the street at the end; would a respectable girl have done that in Jane Austen's day?

Rick - well, I didn't consciously annoy them this time round... The LOTR films were extremely well done, weren't they? I suspect that filming in New Zealand, which must have made it harder for Hollywood execs to interfere, may have helped a bit :-) Did you think he got more mileage out of Eowyn than the books? I thought he played up her unrequited relationship with Aragorn, but played down her relationship with Faramir (even in the extended edition), so I'd have said it came out about even.