Classic novels find new life with modern revivals

Amidst a storm of Divergent fever and Hunger Games madness, it’s easier than ever to get caught up in the frenzy of modern day series, especially when Hollywood is so quick to turn newly written bestsellers into popular films.  But recently, some of the world’s beloved classics have returned to popular culture with just as much gusto, sparking a renewed interest in novels published as far back as the 1800s.

Sherlock Holmes

Even 121 years after its first major publication, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes stories are making a striking comeback around the world, largely due to a sudden surge of interest following new adaptations in TV and film.

BBC’s Sherlock has become one of the most talked-about series of the recent years, quickly picking up both critical acclaim and a diehard cult following after its debut in 2010.  Set in the midst of modern-day London, Holmes, played by rising star Benedict Cumberbatch, takes on canonical enemies like James “Jim” Moriarty, alongside his trustworthy Watson, who is portrayed by The Hobbit actor Martin Freeman.

“It’s such a good show because it’s so brilliantly written, and incorporates that kind of dry British humor that’s makes you laugh despite the fact that it’s unintentionally funny,” senior Anna Gaddes said.

Soon after the BBC adaptation was released, American television station CBS announced that they too would be jumping on the Sherlock Holmes bandwagon with Elementary.  Another modernization of the popular characters, Jonny Lee Miller plays Sherlock Holmes, a recovering drug addict who moves from London to Manhattan, where he meets Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), a successful surgeon who becomes Holmes’ sober companion.  Elementary has received a fair amount of criticism for its similarities to the BBC version, but has been marked as a quality program overall, paying well-deserved tribute to the age-defying series.

See the trailer for BBC Sherlock and CBS Elementary.


Pride and Prejudice

Despite the lack of truly modern adaptations based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a sudden rise in interest didn’t come off a Hollywood screen or a Broadway stage, but from a series of video blogs on a YouTube account.

First premiering in April of 2012, “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” quickly became an online hit, gaining over 43 million views in just under two years.  The series of videos, each averaging only a few minutes long, was created by renowned video-blogger and internet entrepreneur Hank Green, alongside web producer Bernie Su.  Each entry is centered around Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Bennet, a strong-willed graduate student who, like Austen’s original character, believes that women should do more with their lives than settle down with a husband.

Incorporating a number of modernized characters from Pride and Prejudice, “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” has received critical acclaim from sources such as British newspaper, The Guardian, which called the series “the best Austen adaptation around.” In 2013, the series even managed to pick up the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Media.

Click here to watch the first episode of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.”


The Great Gatsby

One of the most anticipated films of 2013, the recent adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby showcased all the glitz and glamour that was expected under the direction of Baz Luhrmann.  But when it was announced that casting would include Hollywood superstars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Toby McGuire, many were left to wonder just how true to the story Luhrmann would stay.

Though the central plotline stayed intact, there were a few details in the film that evoked questions from perceptive fans.  Whose idea was it to throw Nick Carraway in a sanatorium?  Where was the Nick/Jordan relationship?  Why the overabundance of Jay-Z playing in the background of every 1920s party scene?

Despite any and all differences, Gatsby remains as great as ever, having secured a place in the hearts of many throughout the ages.

See the trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s production of The Great Gatsby here.


Les Miserables

One of the biggest winners of the 2013 award season, the recent musical adaptation of Les Miserables brought together some of Hollywood’s greatest actors with one of the world’s most treasured novelsOriginally penned by Victor Hugo in 1862, Les Miserables has since been made into a Broadway musical, the songs of which are the basis for the 2012 film, starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, and countless other film icons.

Despite the worldwide acclaim in favor of both the live musical and the film, few actually have the perseverance that it takes to read the book.  At over 1,000 pages, the unabridged version of Les Miserables is no light read, with a complex style and often slow-to-read plot.  However, the novel is able to go into much greater detail about the characters, and provides more insight into the living conditions that defined the times.

“The book has a lot more detail, and more in-depth characters that you grow attached to very quickly,” junior Erin Ketchum said.

Click here to watch the official trailer.

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