Stephen Edwin King, better known as Stephen King, has also published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. Born in Portland in 1947, he is one of today’s most prolific writers. He began writing at a very early age. It is not known whether the incident he witnessed as a child (one of his friends got caught on the train tracks and was run over) was the trigger for his obsession with the genre to which he has devoted most of his work. Stephen King denies it, but what cannot be denied is his obsession with horror, fantasy and morbidity that permeates virtually all his books and now movies.
But if there is one thing that makes Stephen King stand out, apart from his extensive work, it is the success with which many of his books have been adapted into films. Some of his works, as we shall see, have become cult films and have won awards. We review his five best books adapted for the cinema.
Movies based on Stephen King books
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick)
In 1980 Stanley Kubrick directed Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd in The Shining (The Shining) a film destined to become a true masterpiece of horror cinema. The film was based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name. The plot is well known. Jack Torrance (Nicholson) takes a job as a guard/caretaker of a hotel, the Overlook, where no guests stay during the winter. He moves there with his wife and son with the intention of writing a novel. Soon, the isolation and the evil influence of the place take their toll on the protagonist, causing him disturbing personality disorders.
The filming of The Shining lasted 14 long months and involved the use of the Steadicam, a very new technique at that time. Kubrick was always a very meticulous director who subjected his actors and actresses to endless repetitions of the same shot until he got what he wanted. Just ask Shelley Duvall. The actress says that during the filming she suffered real terror and a lot of anxiety. We don’t know if it’s Karma, but The Shining was the first Kubrick film not to be nominated for an Oscar in any category.
Carrie (Brian De Palma)
Director Brian De Palma must also have loved the novel Carrie (1974) because in 1976 he directed its film adaptation Carriecarrie White, Stephen King’s first published novel, tells the story of Carrie White, an introverted young woman with certain “supernatural powers” who lives under the yoke of a sick and disturbed mother who keeps her away from the world. One day, fed up with the humiliation she suffers at the hands of her classmates, she decides to take revenge on them.
Carrie, full of suspense and psychological terror, was played by Sissy Spacek who won critical acclaim and was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actress category. In 2013 Kimberly Pierce took over from Brian De Palma to direct the remake of the film, this time starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Julian Moore.
Misery (Rob Reiner)
In 1991 came to the cinemas Miserydirected by Rob Reiner and based on the novel of the same name published by Stephen King in 1987. The film tells the story of Paul Sheldom (James Caan), a writer who suffers an accident and is forced to recuperate at the home of an admirer, Annie Wilkes, played by Katy Bates. So far, so good. But the writer soon discovers that beneath this lovely admirer hides a real psychopath.
Kathy Bates’ chilling performance won her an Oscar for Best Actress in 1991 and made her one of the greatest villains in film history, an icon of true horror. In fact, the American Film Institute soon included Wilkes in its list of the 100 greatest heroes and villains in film history.
Dolores Claiborne (Taylor Hackford)
This novel, published by Stephen King in 1992, was the inspiration for Taylor Hackford, who was responsible for its 1995 film adaptation. Starring Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Christopher Plummer, Dolores Claiborne is the story of Dolores (Bates), accused of murdering the owner of the house where she has worked for over twenty years. When her daughter (Jennifer Jason Leigh) comes forward to try to prove her innocence, the two must confront a sordid past filled with violence. A psychological thriller full of genre elements.
Dolores Claiborne is perhaps one of the writer’s most intimate works and one of his most atypical. Stephen King nails the portrait of a tormented woman in a story full of mediocrity, routine, loneliness and anguish. The film features the wonderful music of Danny Elfman, also responsible for the soundtracks of Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Mission Impossible, The Untamed Will Hunting and Sleepy Hollow, among others.
The Green Mile (Frank Darabont)
The Green Mile was published in 1996 in six volumes: The Murdered Twins, A Mouse in the Hallway, Coffey’s Hands, A grisly execution, Night Journey and Coffey’s Final Hour. It was adapted for the cinema in 1999 by Frank Darabont, who was able to bring to the screen the story of a prison guard who discovers that a prisoner possesses a miraculous healing power. A story about “death row” wrapped in a fairytale atmosphere, perhaps to sweeten it. A story about friendship, evil and regret against the backdrop of the death penalty.
Tom Hanks plays Paul Edgecomb while the role of John Coffey went to Michael Clarke Duncan The Green Mile (The Green Mile) the film received four nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Michael Clarke Duncan), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Sound at the 1999 Academy Awards.
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