French Literary Classics for Movie Buffs

While nothing beats reading a good French classic, for those of you who prefer to see your literature come alive, there’s always Hollywood! A great plot and a powerful star-cast bringing to life French literary characters with élan do make for compelling viewing. Here’s our selection of French classics that have been immortalised on cinemas and are definitely worth a watch!

The 3 Muskeeters

The “blockbuster” plot of this legendary classic written by the legendary novelist, Alexandre Dumas has inspired many Hollywood adaptations (atleast 24) including 6 silent films. One of its most remembered adaptation was the 1993 Disney production with yester-year stars such as Charlie O Sheen (Of 2 and a Half Men), Kiefer Sutherland (remember, Designated Survivor?) and Chris O’Donnell. It also had the famous Bryan Adams rock ballad, “All for Love” sung with Rod Stewart and the legendary Sting. In 2011, Hollywood went a step further and made a 3D adaptation with Milla Jokovich, Logan Leerman and Orlando Bloom which was directed by Paul W.S Anderson. There are also animated versions that make for kid-friendly viewing.

The Man in the Iron Mask

A sequel of sorts to the iconic 3 Muskeeters, the Man in the Iron Mask revolves around a prisoner whose identity is hidden and who has a possible connection to Louis XIV. Quite a few movies have been inspired by its intriguing plot, but in the last two decades, its most noteworthy adaptation is the 1998 movie which has the charming Leonardo di Caprio playing the dual role of the title and that of the villain (in this case, the King Louis XIV) with great versatility. Of course, the original plot was slightly tweaked to suit the cinema but the movie makes for good viewing, especially if you know your classics. Trivia: Did you know that Leonardo was only 22 years old when he shot for the movie?

Around the World in 80 Days

This Jules Verne’s classic will resonate with those who love travel as it is based on the voyage of a moneyed British gentleman and his French valet who attempt to travel around the world on a bet. Adapted for the screen in 1956, the movie starred greats such as Shirley Mac Laine, Frank Sinatra amongst others. In 2004, the movie was made into an adventure comedy with Jackie Chan playing the role of the valet and a script that didn’t stay true to the book plot. If you do want to watch this classic come alive, we recommend the 1956 version which won 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Les Misérables

Victor Hugo’s timeless classic that has been made into countless film adaptations in different languages (including our very own Hindi and Telegu!), musicals and plays; is a compelling tale of law, justice, philosophy and politics. Its 2012 adaptation was a musical with a star-studded cast that included Hugh Jackman playing the role of the protagonist Valjean, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham-Carter of “The Crown” fame. The film fared well at the box-office and received several accolades and awards including 3 Golden Globe Awards including Best Actor for the very likeable Jackman!

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Another of Hugo’s eternal classics, this literary fiction has a plot tailor-made for Hollywood. Not surprisingly, the book has been remade into many movies across the globe. It’s 1982 adaption starred Sir Anthony Hopkins and had a very different ending from the book. Disney made an animated musical in 1996 with a voice-over cast that included the gorgeous Demi Moore and the suave Kevin Kline. This animated version is not your feel-good animated Disney movie, but one that explores slightly serious religious topics such as lust, damnation etc. The film continues to be one of Disney’s greatest contemporary movies. So, go ahead, gather your slightly older kids and enjoy this classic with them!

If we haven’t managed to satiate your movie appetite with this list, we have a few more titles to recommend. Take your pick from The Count of Monte Cristo, Madame Bovary (also made into Bollywood’s Maya Memsaab) or the 3 D version of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brendan Fraser or even the sci-fi 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, another Jules Vernes classic. Happy Viewing!