I’ve written before on how Christian books, if given the proper treatment, have the potential to become amazing films. The number of stories one could choose from is practically endless, and their genres cover everything from spy dramas to space travel. With Hollywood currently churning out more faith-based films than ever before, now seems like a good time to revisit this idea. Jesse Carey, of Relevant Magazine, recently shared his thoughts on which Christian books deserved their own movies, along with some directors who could bring them to life. Below you’ll find a handful of his suggestions followed by a few of my own.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
Director: Bennet Miller
“Maya Angelou’s 1969 autobiography tells the emotional story of her difficult early life—in which she experienced both abuse and racism— showing how it helped her to later become one of her generation’s most important writers. While not a traditional ‘Christian’ book in terms of genre, the autobiography offers an unfiltered look at the events that formed a poet known for her faith, as she wrestles with big questions. Though it was made into a TV movie back in the '70s, in the modern era of so many great biopics, it’s just waiting for filmmaker like Bennet Miller (Foxcatcher, Capote, Moneyball) to bring it to the big screen.”
Bonhoeffer - Eric Metaxas
Director: Steven Spielberg
“With the upcoming Bridge of Spies, and mega hits like Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and Munich all to his name, Spielberg is no stranger to historical war epics. And though a low-budget 2000 film (which aired on PBS) brought Dietirch Bonhoeffer’s incredible story to the screen once before, Eric Metaxas’ best-selling 2011 biography Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy renewed interest in the life of the pastor turned would-be Hitler assassin. Tom Hanks, this is a role you were born to play.”
Phantastes – George Macdonald
Director: Tim Burton
Phantastes is a little known novel by George McDonald that is best described as a mix between The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland. It tells the story of a man named Anodos who discovers a magical land in his writing desk, and suddenly finds himself on a noble journey while pursued by the spirits of the Ash Tree and the Alder Tree. The book was said to be one of C.S. Lewis’ earliest inspirations, and its madcap narrative has just the kind of charm to fit a personality like Burton. Given Burton’s recent experience with Alice in Wonderland and The Nightmare Before Christmas, it’s not hard to imagine him bringing this tale to life on screen.
The Oath – Frank Peretti
Director: Scott Derrickson
Scott Derrickson is no stranger to dark material with a spiritual twist, just look at his work in Deliver Us From Evil. His past films make him the perfect candidate to direct The Oath, Peretti’s horrific tale of sin and redemption. Set in the fictional mining town of Hyde River, The Oath follows Steve Benson as he searches for the mysterious creature that murdered his brother and several townspeople. As buried secrets come to light and old lies are peeled away, Steve finds himself face to face with an ancient and terrible evil. It’s the kind of suspense film that would have audiences perched on the edge of their seats.
The Last Book
For the final book, both Carey and I agreed C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy deserved to become a major motion picture. However, it appeared we each had radically different visions for the film.
Carey’s Director: The Wachowskis
“C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia are his best-known works of fiction, but The Space Trilogy is arguably his most ambitious. The three novels involve space travel, supernatural entities, aliens, heavy religious metaphors and symbols, otherworldly settings and a shadowy group called ‘The National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments.’ In other words, it's perfect vehicle for the Wachowskis and their love of sic-fi weirdness. The trippy plot and crazy visuals would be just what the filmmakers need to reclaim the Matrix magic lost on bloated epics like Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending. Plus, with titles like ‘Out of the Silent Planet’ and ‘That Hideous Strength’ it's already criminal that these books haven’t been made into movies.”
My Director:Ridley Scott
The Space Trilogy has all the elements of a Ridley Scott film. Far-flung worlds, mysterious alien races, overarching themes of life, creation, and faith, not to mention plenty of space travel. While there are a number of great directors who could do the books justice, Scott has the potential to take Lewis’ ambitious series and transform it into something truly epic. Anyone needing further convincing should just google the trailer for his upcoming film The Martian, which stars Matt Damon and is already one of the most anticipated movies of the year. The Space Trilogy needs to carry the scope and majesty of space itself, and Ridley Scott could make it happen.
What about you? What are some books you would like to see as movies?