ByBenjamin Eaton, writer at
Resident bookworm and semi-professional nerd. Find me on Twitter: @Singapore_Rice
Benjamin Eaton

Ah, Valentine's Day. The one day a year where you need to be in love and pay through the nose to prove it. Heart-shaped anythings. Gold-flecked stuff. Chocolates with flower things ground into the cocoa. Why? It doesn't matter. Love is all around us!

If you're looking for a way to prove your love this , hogtie your partner and drag them down to watch . The E.L. James BDSM saga has become an enormous sensation, but it isn't everyone's ballgag of choice.

So if you'd rather avoid the moral confusion of the sticky-floored cinema this week, then take a look at this list of alternative film adaptations from based on romantic literature that you can snuggle up and watch from the comfort of your home.

1. Casablanca

Casablanca [Image Credit: Warner Brothers]
Casablanca [Image Credit: Warner Brothers]
  • Initial Release: 1943
  • Director: Michael Curtiz
  • Adapted From: Murray Burnett & Joan Allison's Everybody Comes To Rick's

Casablanca is one of those classic films that has become legendary. The homages, rip-offs, and honorable mentions are numerous, influencing everything from The Simpsons to E.T.

The film was based on the un-produced stage play Everybody Comes To Rick's, and wasn't originally billed to be quite as extraordinary as it turned out to be. It was rushed through production to take advantage of the allied invasion of North Africa, making the tragic story of an American expatriate torn between love and duty all the more timely. As it turned out, was an immediate success, winning three Academy Awards and influencing pop culture ever since.

Biggest Difference Between The Play And The Film:

Everybody Comes To Rick's was heavily adapted for the screen, and while Casablanca owes a lot to the play, much of what makes it so famous belongs to the film alone. One of the most notable changes was to the character Rick, who was immortalized by Humphrey Bogart. In the script his language dips into vulgarity as he calls Ilsa a "bitch" and Laszlo "a high class pimp". That's hardly disgraceful by our standards today, but in the Golden Age of cinema, even the word "damn" was commonly censored.

Humphrey Bogart's character is much more eloquent, and the biggest difference between the play and the film has to be his moving toast:

"Here's looking at you, kid".

2. West Side Story

West Side Story [Image Credit: Seven Arts Productions]
West Side Story [Image Credit: Seven Arts Productions]
  • Initial Release: 1961
  • Director: Robert Wise
  • Adapted From: Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet

There could've been a list of surprising film adaptations devoted purely to Shakespeare, but we've kept it down to two for this one.

Romeo & Juliet is one of the most recognizable love stories of all time. The story of the star-crossed lovers has left audiences weeping from classic re-tellings to Baz Lurhman's super-stylized relocation to the beaches of LA. But switched up the formula first, reducing the tale of nobility to an struggle on the streets of New York.

It was a Broadway musical before it was a film, but Robert Wise's screen version elevated the musical to a new level. West Side Story won 10 , the most Academy wins for any musical.

Biggest Difference Between The Play And The Film:

Romeo & Juliet is a timeless story, with a malleable structure that can fit almost any scenario. It fits West Side Story perfectly, and is as timely now as it was in 1961. However, it's the combination of this, and the drastic shift into musical theater that makes for the top difference - that finger snap.

It's another of those references that you know, even if you've never seen the film. The Jets cluster together and snap in rhythm, signalling to everyone around them that they're not to be messed with. While it's clearly dated, and probably never actually intimidated anybody, it remains an iconic image of gang camaraderie. To make it stand out, choreographer Jerome Robbins insisted that the actors snap their thumb and index finger together as opposed to their thumb and middle finger. This was supposed to make them distinctive from the everyday finger snap, apparently.

3. Beauty And The Beast

Beauty And The Beast [Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios]
Beauty And The Beast [Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios]
  • Initial Release: 1991
  • Produced By: Walt Disney Pictures
  • Adapted From: Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's Beauty And The Beast

Walt Disney Studios conquered the world with its animated adaptations of fairy tales beginning with the classic re-telling of the Brothers Grimm's Snow White. The classics have nothing on the renaissance, however, which began altering the princess formula with The Little Mermaid. Princesses were now given agency and audiences fell in love with these much stronger women.

Among the most beloved animations of all time is , which has been in the spotlight for some time now as the countdown to the live action remake's release continues.

Researchers believe that the bare bones of the story originated around 4,000 years ago, so while it's not quite a tale as old time, it is pretty old.


Biggest Difference Between The Book And The Film:

Disney's known first for its princesses, and second for its anthropomorphic sidekicks. Every Elsa has an Olaf, and every Belle has a castle filled with enchanted crockery.

While the music is one of the most beloved aspects of the animated original, Beaumont never offered Belle a cheeky candlestick and a prissy clock to guide her around the castle. In her fairy tale, the servants were invisible, and they catered to "Beauty's" every whim. The change is typically Disney, as its difficult to sell toys of invisible servants.

4. Clueless

Clueless [Image Credit: Paramount Pictures]
Clueless [Image Credit: Paramount Pictures]
  • Initial Release: 1995
  • Director: Amy Heckerling
  • Adapted From: Jane Austen's Emma

Jane Austen imagined the chief protagonist of her novel Emma as "a heroine no one but myself will much like." She's a spoiled and conceited rich girl who enjoys meddling in other people's lives and is blind to the dangers of doing so. This forms the basis of Amy Heckerling's cult film . Viewed now, the film is a cringe-worthy look back at the unparalleled weirdness of the 90's, making this zany comedy even funnier in retrospect.

Biggest Difference Between The Book And The Film:

Fans will remember the ultimate awkwardness of Cher throwing herself at newcomer Christian, only to be rejected by him on the grounds that he's "tired". It turns, of course, that Christian is gay. He's loosely based on Jane Austen's character Frank Churchill, but there's no such twist in Emma. Frank is merely engaged to somebody else.

5. Cruel Intentions

Cruel Intentions [Image Credit: Columbia Pictures]
Cruel Intentions [Image Credit: Columbia Pictures]
  • Initial Release: 1999
  • Director: Roger Kumble
  • Adapted From: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Cruel Intentions follows the oft-told love story of a bet gone wrong, when a conniving man falls for the woman he's been selfishly pursuing.

It's based on the 1782 novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, in which two ex-lovers exploit people through sexual conquest and cruel manipulations. The theme of liaisons is mirrored in the narrative's form, as it's written as a series of letters between the various characters.

Biggest Difference Between The Book And The Film:

was made famous by that legendary scene where Sarah Michelle Gellar makes out with Selma Blair. It's a steamy addition to a film which already has the sex factor cranked up thanks to its glamorous cast, but it's not the most interesting change.

In the film, Geller's character Kathryn is ruined when the truth about her manipulative nature is distributed and she's caught in possession of cocaine. The novel ousts its female conspirator in a similar fashion, but her downfall is a little more violent. She contracts smallpox and is left blind in one eye with permanent facial scars due to the disease. She dies shortly afterwards.

The change is obviously justified by the shift in context to a modern preppy environment, as smallpox hasn't been naturally contracted since 1977. It would have made for one hell of a twist, though.

6. 10 Things I Hate About You

10 Things I Hate About You [Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures]
10 Things I Hate About You [Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures]
  • Initial Release: 1999
  • Director: Gil Junger
  • Adapted From: Shakespeare's Taming Of The Shrew

We know you can be overwhelmed, and we know you can be underwhelmed, but can you really just be whelmed by 10 Things I Hate About You?

This is another love story where the guy falls for the girl on the basis of a bet. It's also another cult 90's hit with some unforgettable quotes and a few famous faces lurking in the youthful cast. 10 Things' reverence to is evident throughout the film, culminating in a tearjerker of a sonnet inspired by the man himself. It also ruined public displays of affection for every man the world over, with Heath Ledger's heartfelt song and dance:

Biggest Difference Between The Book And The Film:

10 Things I Hate About You is another example of the malleability of Shakespeare's work, but unlike West Side Story, Gil Junger's rom-com is openly saturated with references to the playwright. The title is a reference to How Do I Love Thee (Sonnet 43):

"Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight".

Of all the references however, none is better than having William Shakespeare himself appear at the ball. It's a brilliant ode to the inspiration of the film, one that probably would have been appreciated in the play itself. Theater-goers were a rowdy bunch back in the day and a twist like that would've blown the Globe down.

10 Things I Hate About You [Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures]
10 Things I Hate About You [Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures]

7. Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain [Image Credit: River Road Entertainment]
Brokeback Mountain [Image Credit: River Road Entertainment]
  • Initial Release: 2005
  • Director: Ang Lee
  • Adapted From: Annie Proulx's novella Brokeback Mountain

Genuinely decent depictions of gay romances are few and far between in Hollywood, with hetero-normative relationships still dominating the silver screen. representation has ebbed and flowed, but characters are still too often pigeon-holed and stereotyped, with their sexuality being inconsequential to the plot.

is the antithesis of all that. An unflinching look at repressed sexuality and same-sex love in an overtly masculine environment. Toxic masculine stereotypes vary, but none is quite as vapid as your average cowboy. The gay cowboy is a stereotype all of its own, but Jake Gylenhaal and the late, great Heath Ledger make it work through powerful performances which perfectly humanize these troubled lovers.

Biggest Difference Between The Book And The Film:

Proulx's visceral, heartfelt portrayal of an affair spanning two decades is beautiful in its prose and content, but Ang Lee's film expands the world of the story to reach beyond the central dynamic. The film explores some wider complexities, sticking to a linear structure while the novella jumps backwards and forwards. Proulx's opening is a blistering example of gorgeous prose, but Lee's opening with the two men meeting for the first time to do a job is stoic and gruff in contrast. It's drawn out and silent. The whole scene is actually charged with sexual tension. This is when the lovers first meet, yet there's no swelling of music, or charming back-and-forth. It's an opening swathed in masculinity, and the typical response to difficult emotions for overtly masculine men is silence or violence.

8. Stardust

Stardust [Image Credit: Marv Films]
Stardust [Image Credit: Marv Films]
  • Initial Release: 2007
  • Director: Matthew Vaughn
  • Adapted From: Neil Gaiman's Stardust

Few modern films based on fairy tales are like . The central conceit of a runaway princess and an unknowing heir to the throne is offset with many comedic twists, and some genuinely creepy instances of magic. It also has a stellar cast, including Sir Ian McKellan as narrator.

It's mostly light-hearted, but his signature darkness creeps into the plot as Tristan and Yvaine are hunted by witches who want to eat the fallen star's heart.

Biggest Difference Between The Book And The Film:

Neil Gaiman is one of those effortlessly inventive writers that manages to juggle genres, conjure up endearing worlds, and tell the stories of flawed but lovable characters. His depiction of Tristan Thorne's search for a fallen star is a short one, but its a charming novel that turns genre cliches on their heads. Matthew Vaughn's film went even further.

Fans will remember Robert DeNiro's role in the film as Captain Shakespeare, the flamboyant leader of a motley crew who trawl the clouds in search of lightning. In the novel Shakespeare isn't the grizzly brute he pretends to be and that is matched by the comedy of DeNiro dancing against the backdrop of a battle on the deck of his ship, which is twisted again by the crew's heart-warming acknowledgement of their Captain. More than that, they knew the whole time, but wanted to protect his feelings.

9. Revolutionary Road

Leo And Kate In Revolutionary Road
Leo And Kate In Revolutionary Road
  • Initial Release: 2008
  • Director: Sam Mendes
  • Adapted From: Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road

Audiences were left traumatized at the reunion of Leo and Kate, who'd been immortalized as lovers in Jim Cameron's romantic epic . However, Revolutionary Road is not that kind of film.

It plays with the idea of a couple breaking out of the strict conformity of the 1950's, challenging stereotypes and boldly pursuing happiness even at the cost of social ostracism. That doesn't quite pan out. It looks at the troubles of marriage in a society were gender stereotypes constrain people and forcing them to drastic measures in order to remain in control.

Biggest Difference Between The Book And The Film:

Sam Mendes is very faithful to the source material here, tweaking the complicated dynamic of Frank and April Wheeler just slightly. In the novel, April's suggestion of the move to Paris comes across as a desire for her husband to find himself. She never fully acknowledges how much she needs the move for herself.

Mendes fundamentally changes this outlook, and Winslett seals the deal. April knows exactly that she needs to leave for her own sake, and her enduring attachment to Frank sees her extend this plan to include him. She's much more likable than the almost-vapid character of the novel. It falls to DiCaprio as Frank to play something like the villain of the piece. He turns from the immeasurably lovable Jack Dawson to the greasy conformist Frank Wheeler, a man who quite rightly is left alive, alone, and empty by the end of the film.

10. Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook [Image Credit: The Weinstein Company]
Silver Linings Playbook [Image Credit: The Weinstein Company]
  • Initial Release: 2012
  • Director: David O'Russel
  • Adapted From: Matthew Quick's Silver Linings Playbook

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper both turned a corner with the quirky and brilliant Silver Linings Playbook. It was a breakout success for both of them, launching Lawrence to international success as the head of the Hunger Games franchise, and transforming Cooper from the typecast action hero/pretty boy into something else entirely.

The film is based on Matthew Quick's excellent debut novel Silver Linings Playbook, and in most parts its true to the text. It shares the same constancy of unreliability, and leaves a question mark over the mental condition of every character. This was crystallized by excellent character acting across the board, from DeNiro's compulsive quirks to Shea Wigham's total lack of verbal filter. It's a wonderful love story, but it's also a very frank appraisal of how unusual we all really are.

Biggest Difference Between The Book And The Film:

There're a few major differences between the novel and the film, most of which seem to have been adapted to set the film apart. We very quickly become aware that Pat has been institutionalized in the film, whereas it takes almost the entire novel for this realization to become apparent. This is probably because that style of twist is relatively played-out on screen, and wouldn't have the same impact as in the internally embedded narrative of the novel.

The top difference however has to be Pat's reaction to Tiffany's deceit. In the film, Pat discovers that she's been lying to him, pretending to pass correspondences between him and his ex. It turns out that she's been writing the letters herself, and that she's actually in love with him.

In the novel, Pat doesn't take this very well:

I want to pound her face with my knuckles until the bones in my hands crumble and Tiffany is completely unrecognizable, until she no longer has a face from which she can spew lies.

Brutal, right? The film is totally different, with Pat only confronting Tiffany with a letter confessing his love. He claims to have loved her since the moment they first met, and while that's also played-out, it sort of works because of the film's slavish attention to social quirks. The film takes us outside of Pat's head, so we don't know exactly what he's thinking. Tiffany confuses and intoxicates him, to the point that his desire to reconnect with his ex becomes a hollow attempt to return to a point when he was "normal". But the film showed us that nobody is normal.

Were you surprised by any of these? Do you have any favorite romance stories which have been adapted for the screen?

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