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New at Peter White Public Library

Many new films originate from the storylines of very old books. Other books have the film rights scooped up as soon as they are published. Check out some of these pairings from PWPL’s newest DVD acquisitions. The books may be found in various library collections, but the “New” DVDs will be listed alphabetically by title. Place a hold from the online catalog at www.pwpl.info and make an appointment for curbside pickup, or come in person, starting Jan. 25 from noon to 6 p.m.

“CALL OF THE WILD” by Jack London has been filmed as a family friendly version of the book. It’s a little less violent, but retains all the adventure of a dog named Buck, kidnapped from his California family and sent to the Yukon, in Alaska, where there was a shortage of sled dogs. Buck blossoms in his new life, but has conflicts with a dominant sled dog and an abusive owner. He finally ends up with an old prospector (played by Harrison Ford) who treats him as a companion and lets him explore his canine side with a pack of wolves. After a lifetime of adapting to new situations, Buck successfully answers the “call of the wild.” This is the sixth film adaptation of the 1903 novel. Viewers will notice that Buck and the other animals are digitized in this 2020 version, but it lends to the overall appeal of the movie for younger audiences.

“EMMA,” written by Jane Austen in 1815, exemplified the empowerment of independent women by highlighting a wealthy heroine who preferred matchmaking to finding a romance of her own. She fully expected to live in her father’s house forever. Emma’s failed attempts at finding mates for her friends results in humorous and outrageous situations. Although CLUELESS, filmed in 1995 with Alicia Silverstone, features an updated storyline based in Los Angeles, the classic story of Emma was again released in 1996, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. This 2020 version follows the original storyline to the letter and features Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma. The story has been adapted for television eight times between 1948 and 2009.

“THE INVISIBLE MAN” by H.G. Wells is classic science fiction, written in 1897, that still captures the imagination of readers today. When a man named Griffin arrives at the Coach and Horses Inn and refuses to take his coat off, the tale begins to unfold. Griffin’s experiments on making living tissue turn invisible have been successful, although demoralizing, and with unforeseen consequences. The first film was released in 1933 with Claude Rains, followed by “THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS” (1940) and “THE INVISIBLE MAN’S REVENGE” (1944). The suspenseful 2020 version stars Elizabeth Moss and retains the original title.

“LITTLE WOMEN” by Louisa May Alcott is a staple of classic literature. The 1868 story follows the lives of the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, from childhood to becoming young women. It is considered a semi-autobiographical novel, based on the lives of the author and her sisters. With their father fighting in the Civil War, the girls and Marmee find ways to economize and earn extra money. They also befriend Laurie, the grandson of their next door neighbor, who is a friend and love interest. Movies based on the book have been filmed since 1933 with Jo played by Katharine Hepburn, in 1949 with June Allyson in the lead, and in 1994 starring Winona Ryder. Why, then, do we need another? This newest version gives modern audiences a whole new perspective by framing the story of “LITTLE WOMEN” with the author’s biographical information, as she writes the book.

“JUST MERCY: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson (353.48 ST) is a detailed memoir of the legal battles taken on by a young Harvard-educated lawyer who wanted to help people obtain proper legal representation. After interning with the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee in 1983, Stephenson and legal advocate, Eva Ansley, opened the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit agency aimed at re-investigating the convictions of prisoners on Death Row in the state of Alabama, which had a reputation for harsh law enforcement. The book summarizes the cases that impacted Stephenson the most, and determined his career goals. The movie, of the same name, stars Michael B. Jordan as Stephenson, and makes up for the lengthy legal details with a healthy dose of raw emotion. A scene where Stephenson is stopped by police and ordered out of his car happens at different times in the book than the movie, but proves just as effective in the storyline.

“BELGRAVIA” by Julian Fellowes, who also wrote the script for “DOWNTON ABBEY,” transports readers back to the early 1800s when tradesmen and merchants became wealthy enough to rub shoulders with English aristocracy. One such man was Mr. Trunchard, grown wealthy as a supply officer in the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, who entered society with his wife and their daughter, Sophia. Their luxurious lifestyle was constrained by societal expectations and jockeying for position in order to marry their offspring to rich or titled spouses. In a world where reputation was everything, they found themselves protecting their daughter’s secret long after her untimely death. Lives could come crashing down, if whispers of a scandal were overheard. The DVD originated as a set of six PBS episodes featuring opulent houses, period clothing, and a cast of recognizable English actors who bring the book to life.

By Lynette Suckow

Reference Librarian

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