Books have served as source materials for films since studios began making films. The Harry Potter film series as well as movies such as The Wizard of Oz demonstrate that fiction books can be successfully translated onto the big screen. However, nonfiction books have also provided ample fodder for movies that did well in theaters and gained critical acclaim.
There seems to be no end to the fascination that some people have with the mob and films that feature their "lifestyle." This includes nonfiction accounts of their lives. Nicholas Pileggi penned the book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas which became the basis for the Scorsese crime drama Casino starring Robert De Niro. Pileggi also chronicled the life of Henry Hill from 1955 to 1980 in Wiseguys. This would later become the classic crime film Goodfellas starring Ray Liotta which features voiceover dialog pulled straight from the book.
Jeffrey Kluger pooled his talent with astronaut Jim Lovell to write Lost Moon: the Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13. This true account of a space mission gone wrong later became the Tom Hanks film Apollo 13. Another book chronicling an event with severe conditions is The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger. This account of the nor'easter that absorbed Hurricane Grace and evolved back into a small unnamed hurricane became the George Cloonry film, The Perfect Storm.
War films have also drawn from literary source material. Clint Eastwood developed his film Flags of Our Fathers using the James Bradley's bestselling account of the Iwo Jima flag raising. Former Navy SEAL Mark Luttrell, shares his experience from June 2015 in which he survives an encounter with the Taliban in Lone Survivor: the Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. His book became the basis for Lone Survivor, a film starring Mark Wahlberg.
Sports films also often draw on real people and events. The Brad Pitt film Moneyball was based on Moneyball: the Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. It is about the Oakland Athletics baseball team, and its general manager Billy Beane, who employed an analytical, evidence-based, sabermetric approach to assembling a competitive baseball team. Another sports film, Friday Night Lights was inspired by Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, a 1990 nonfiction book written by H.G. Bissinger. The story centers around the story of the 1988 Permian Panthers high school football team from Odessa, Texas, as they made a run towards the Texas state championship, as well as living with the high expectations of the surrounding community.
As they say, the truth is often stranger than fiction. We invite you to read the books and see the films inspired by them and compare the two. It might be pretty interesting to see how they are the same and how the books were tweaked to make the story filmable. From the mafia to space exploration, the library can offer you different ways to experience real people and events. So, come check out some of these title at your library today.
Article Contributed by Deborah Tarsiewicz, Information Services Department