Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book-to-Film: Movies Based on Poems

I saw this list on MentalFloss and, seeing as it's National Poetry Month, I couldn't help but share.  You might have been familiar with the poetic origins of the films Beowulf and Nightmare Before Christmas, but I bet you didn't know that these popular movies were based on poems!

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Joel and Ethan Coen released a comedy about a trio of convicts trying to escape a Mississippi chain gang only to stumble into a series of misadventures and misfortune. With George Clooney playing Ulysses Everett McGill, the Odysseus surrogate, O Brother, Where Art Thou? took ancient Greek poet Homer’s episodic structure of The Odyssey and married it with absurd comedy and old-timey bluegrass music from T-Bone Burnett. The Coens didn’t read the epic poem while making the movie and actor Tim Blake Nelson was reportedly the only person on set who was familiar with Homer’s work (he holds a degree in Classics from Brown University).

Mel Gibson’s Braveheart was based on a fifteenth-century Scottish epic poem titled “The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace” or simply, “The Wallace.” While the film received heavy criticism for being historically inaccurate, Braveheartwon five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography, in 1996.

In 1998, the Walt Disney Company released their 36th animated feature film, Mulan, which was based on the ancient Chinese poem “Ballad of Mulan.” The film and poem told the story of Hua Mulan, a young woman who takes her elderly father's place in the army during the Northern Wei Dynasty.

See the full list at MentalFloss.

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