Page to Screen Adaptations 2021 and Beyond

2020 is history. Hopefully 2021 will resume as 2019 was. Huh? Right. Things fall apart and don’t appear as they used to be. We’re learning to live with uncertainties. But books are still being written; movies are still being made. Here’s a list of upcoming adaptations. Some have just been announced, some are filming, some completed.

Across the River and into the Trees by Ernest Hemingway (1950)

The last of Hemingway’s novels published in his lifetime. A love story about a war-ravaged American Colonel, Richard Cantwell, in post WWII Italy. His encounter with a Venetian countess stirs up reminiscences and pondering of love, youth, war, and death. Liev Schreiber and Josh Hutcherson star. Spanish director Paula Ortiz takes the helm.

Anatomy of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan (2018)

A British upper-class wife Sophie believes her husband James is innocent of the serious criminal charge against him. Prosecutor Kate sets out to prove her wrong. A timely legal case about consent. Michelle Dockery is Barrister Kate, Sienna Miller and Rupert Friend the elite couple trying to hang on to their marriage. The popular thriller will be adapted into a six-part series on Netflix, created by David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies, but all the more, the creator of legal series like Ally McBeal, Boston Legal…), directed by S. J. Clarkson (Jessica Jones).

The Dig by John Preston (2007)

The historical novel is about the 1939 Sutton Hoo dig in Suffolk, England. On the verge of WWII, the burial ship and treasures of a 7th Century Anglo-Saxon ruler were excavated. Book reviewer Michael Pye in the NYT called it “an archaeological event almost as glamorous as the finding of Tutankhamen.” Filmed on location of the actual site, starring Carey Mulligan as Edith Pretty, from whose property the treasures were unearthed, and Ralph Fiennes as the archaeologist Basil Brown. Lily James joins in the search. With this cast, I hope it’s not just about dust and mound.

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (2020)

Even before its publication, Alam’s third novel has already been longlisted for the National Book Awards and rights snatched up by Netflix, with Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington on board. A middle-class white family rents a remote dwelling in Long Island for a weekend getaway ends up having to share the place with strangers––the owners, a black couple. An interesting and realistic scenario in our polarized society. Throw in a lockdown, the tension and suspense can be Hitchcockian. Will see how Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot, Homecoming) scripts and helms it.

Passing by Nella Larsen (1929)

Larsen’s novel (Harlem Renaissance) would be ever relevant now as it tells the story of two biracial women, Clare and Irene, ‘passing’ from black to white. The issue is multi-layered and never simple, involving the search for identity, loyalty, social construction of self, ideology of race, and the agency of choice in matter of racial affiliation. The adaptation is the directorial debut of British actress Rebecca Hall. Now, that can become another contentious issue. Nevertheless, just shows nothing is as simple as black and white.

The Sea Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard (1959)

Howard’s novel depicts the relational dynamics of a playwright’s entourage which darts between England and America: his wife, his manager, and later a young secretary. Kristin Scott Thomas plays the wife as well as takes the helm of the movie. Can she add some spice in this her directorial debut? Playing the young secretary is The Queen’s Gambit’s Anya Taylor-Joy, aka Emma Woodhouse. Hopefully the interactions of the two women, no, all four characters, can generate some cinematic sparks. Actors for the men have yet been announced. Your choice?

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)

How about this as reality TV. A Shakespearian theatre troupe tries to rebuild civilization in an apocalyptic society after a flu pandemic had wiped out most of the world’s population. Canadian author Mandel’s fourth novel won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2015, and was a nominee for the National Book Awards, the PEN/Faulkner Award and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. On HBO in 10 episodes. And yes, you’ve guessed it. The Glass Hotel is also on the drawing board. More info later.


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

18 thoughts on “Page to Screen Adaptations 2021 and Beyond”

    1. Anatomy of a Scandal will be on Netflix as well, with Michelle Dockery as a ‘steely criminal barrister’. I’m sure she can deliver. This series sounds interesting, esp. with David E. Kelly’s involvement.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Claire, I just found out Rebecca Hall’s grandfather is bi-racial, and she’s been trying to navigate her family history from a creative angle. Passing will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month. Whether Quicksand will be made I suppose depends on the reception of Passing. I’m not familiar with Quicksand, but will it be some sort of a duplication with Passing?


      1. Quicksand isn’t about passing at all, it’s semi-autobiographical and is more about being a ‘third culture kid’, which Larsen was, that is, a child raised in a culture that neither of her parents belong to, in this case the mother is Danish and the father from the Danish West Indies, but they live in the US. It’s a fascinating read, another novella so a quick read, but I highly recommend it. The character moves around trying to find her place. It’s about identity and belonging.


        1. This sounds interesting, and ever more relevant in our time. You’re right, that could be a great film. I’m familiar with this sort of third space, liminal existence, having grown up and spent decades in Canada since my teenage years as an immigrant. Although my parents are not of mixed races, they first met each other somewhere far from their own homeland. Recently, more and more books and TV series have focused on this subject matter. Just look across to the side bar to your left, Kevin Kwan’s Sex and Vanity is about a biracial girl in NYC, it’s a comedic take but I can see how relevant it is for me. Also, on my Top Ripples 2020 book list the first spot is Two Trees Make a Forest, its author Jessica J. Lee is an apt representation of such multiplicity in identity, and the book a nature writing memoir of her search for her family history. A most unique read.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Will be interesting to see what they do with Station Eleven. I really enjoyed the book so I hope they do it right! I’m on a very long holds list at the library for Leave the World Behind and definitely want to read it first, especially since I am not a big fan of Julia Roberts and I don’t want her face stuck in my head while I read the book! 😀


    1. Ha! I’m just listening to the audiobook of Station Eleven and thinking of you, Stefanie! I know you’d be interested in Mandel’s subject matter and her unique style of storytelling. And here you are, leaving your ripples at the Pond. As a matter of fact, I’m just discovering her. Have just finished her earlier novel Last Night in Montreal and now Station Eleven. Will head to The Glass Hotel after. I just checked out Station Eleven on IMDb, I’m not sure about how ‘loyal’ they are in the mini-series. But then again, do they need to be totally ‘loyal’? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve not read any of her books but Station Eleven. I liked that it felt more realistic than all the doom and gloom Road-type dystopian novels written by (mostly) men.


    1. I’m glad someone is looking forward to this, cause I’m not sure how they’re going to market a film on this subject and with such an unappealing title. Hope the talents in the cast will be put to good use. Thanks for stopping by and throwing in your two pebbles. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess there is something in the title’s simplicity, and of course it would have been a little unkind if they decided to change the book’s title for the film. I guess with Fiennes and Mulligan in the leads, they can get away with any film title – or even story for that matter! 🙂


          1. No yet – at first the premise did not appeal to me at all – but I am changing my opinion fast on that lol (largely because of all the great reviews!) Have you?, or looking forward to it? It is funny that I read it is Mulligan’s “career highlight” because with each film I saw with her I thought it was also her “career highlight” and that includes so many – “An Education”, “Never Let Me Go”, “Shame”, “Far from the Madding Crowd”, etc.


            1. It just began paid streaming yesterday. No I haven’t yet. Like you, revenge movies aren’t my cup of tea but the reviews are excellent. Especially for the writing too. So I’m really curious. As for CM’s films in recent years, have you seen Wildlife? That’s excellent too. I thought she deserved an Oscar nom for that one but nothing.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. I was just getting rid of my old emails and I saved this link because I hadn’t got round to reading Station Eleven or Passing, which I just did in the last few months. Both excellent and intelligent books. Passing was so compact but so thorough a study of attitudes and Station Eleven had such a strange and clear vision.


    1. I’m not a dystopian or apocalyptic genre fan, but I find Station Eleven quite unique and ingenious. Glad to have such a creative mind right here in my own country. Passing will trigger many discussions and thoughts. I’m flattered by your saving the link. 😉


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