Search Menu



Moby Dick in Space: Modern Movies Based on Literary Classics

Moby Dick in Space: Modern Movies Based on Literary Classics

Herman Melville's classic tale of revenge and whale blubber is about to get the old Hollywood reboot treatment in a big way. Moby's going to space! That's right, sophomore director Kynne Ramsay (We Need To Talk About Kevin) is set to direct a psychological thriller currently dubbed "Moby Dick In Space." Although recreated loosely in a notable Star Trek story as well as an episode of Futurama, this marks the first time the classic novel has been given a massive intergalactic overhaul, and we can't wait to see it! Maybe this literary/sci-fi mashup sounds a little unorthodox on the surface, but many of the most entertaining films of all time are loosely based on popular novels, plays and films. Here's a list of awesome movies that you probably didn't even know were based on classics!

Classic Books into movies

1. Clueless: Jane Austen does Beverly Hills

For nearly two hundred years, Jane Austen has persisted as one of teen girls' favorite authors, so it's no surprise that one of her most enduring classics, Emma, was drastically adapted into one of the best teen movies of the 90's, Clueless. Alicia Silverstone is our modernized Emma as Cher, a spoiled suburban princess and wannabe matchmaker whose attempts to couple up her friends all backfire. Although largely about the vapid teen scene of suburban California, the film is deceptively smart, due in no small part to its clever source material.

2. The Lion King: Hamlet in Africa

It may be hard to believe, but one of the greatest animated Disney films ever is based on this tragic tale of murder and corruption. A king is treacherously killed by his own brother, who then plots against his nephew and takes the crown. The usurped prince gains revenge, guided by his dead father's spirit. That's pretty much Hamlet in a nut-shell, with maybe a little less murder and a whole lot more "Hakuna Matata!"

3. Star Wars: Ancient Japanese War Epic in Space

Although the original Star Wars trilogy has more influences than we can cover in one article, let alone ten, Lucas has acknowledged that the 1958 film The Hidden Fortress from master auteur Akira Kurasowa is one of its most principal sources of inspiration. Many scenes are reminiscent of the space epic, particularly its use of telling the story from the perspective of its lowliest characters, C-3PO and R2D2. Fortress also has stylistic similarities to the Star Wars films, including its use of frame wipes and the fact that forty percent of its cast were played by droids… Okay, that last part may not be true.

4. Easy A: The Scarlett Letter in High School

The Emma Stone starring indie flick Easy A is essentially a modern, comedic take on Nathaniel Hawthorne's legendary novel of sin and guilt in a Puritanical, pre-United States America. In the Scarlett Letter, the novel's heroine, Hester Prynne, becomes an outcast after giving birth to a baby, and is forced to wear a bright red letter "A" on her dress. In Easy A, Emma Stone plays a high school nobody who gains popularity after helping a gay friend convince the school he's straight by faking sex at a party. Stone soon becomes a pariah in the eyes of many of the school's straight-laced bible thumping students, primarily led by Amanda Bynes.

5. O Brother Where Art Thou: The Odyssey in Post Depression America

The Coen Brothers are responsible for some of the most classic films in the past twenty years (No Country For Old Men... 'nuff said!) so it's no wonder that they turned to one of the world's oldest classics, Homer's The Odyssey, for their 2000 musical comedy, O Brother Where Art Thou. This tale of three escaped convicts searching for hidden treasure hits many of the plot points of the epic poem, and injects more comedy into the mix for added viewing pleasure.

What's your favorite modern film based on a literary classic?

Tags: movies, star wars, hamlet, the scarlet letter, jane austen, easy a, moby dick, books-and-comics, william shakespeare

Write your own comment!

About the Author
Vadim Newquist

Vadim Newquist is a writer, director, actor, animator, fire fighter, stunt driver, martial arts instructor, snake wrangler and time traveling bounty hunter who scales tall buildings with his bare hands and wrestles sharks in his spare time. He can do ten consecutive backflips in one jump, make cars explode with his mind, and can give fifty people a high-five at once without even lifting his hands. He holds multiple PhDs in nuclear physics, osteopathic medicine, behavioral psychology, breakdancing, and chilling out. He currently resides in Gotham City inside his stately mansion with his butler Alfred and his two cats.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email