Short Stories That Turned into Epic Feature Films

Many of the best works from successful writers come in the form of the short story. “Carrie” by Stephen King was originally a short story intended for Cavalier magazine, until he went back to the drawing board, expanded it into his first published novel, which became a hit motion picture. Still, many works of short fiction have made their way to the big screen and without the original short story, we would not have several wonderful movies to love.

Here are five movies that were adapted from short stories.

“Brokeback Mountain”

This story by Annie Proulx was first published in The New Yorker in 1997.She won prizes for her work so naturally the story was picked up for a movie deal with Larry McMurtry working on the screenplay. Directed by Ang Lee this controversial, tragic love story of two cowboys living in homophobic times was a hit when it opened in 2005. Audiences cheered and wept during the movie which shows what a brilliant writer can create with a few well-crafted pages.

“The Birds”

Some say that Daphne du Maurier’s short story “The Birds” is even better than the film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The short story delves more into what is going on in everyone’s mind which is impossible to portray in the film, except via dialogue. Yes, there are some subtle differences, but the main plot of the movie is authentic to the original work. We do find out a bit more about Annie, Mitch’s ex-girlfriend in the short fiction work but the movie, under Hitchcock’s expert direction is a terrifying masterpiece. Anyone who is a Hitchcock fan must read the story, which is published as one of six wonderful story offerings as “The Birds and Other Stories”.

“Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption”

A little short story by Stephen King goes a long way to making a lengthy, complex emotional movie in “The Shawshank Redemption”. Rita Hayworth, of course, refers to the pin up that graces Andy;s prison cell wall which hides a secret. King diverts from pure horror to give us some realistic looks into prison life. He does that later with “The Green Mile” a series of novellas that also became a classic film.

“Story of Your Life”

The major motion picture “Arrival” starring Amy Adams is based on the short story, “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chang. It was originally published in the anthology Starlight 2 in 1998 and won a Nebula Award for science fiction. The film Arrival, released in 2016 has received critical acclaim and recently won the 2017 Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation.

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

Washington Irving first published this short fiction piece under the name Geoffrey Crayon. The whole village of Tarrytown, NY has profited by becoming a tourist attraction, particularly due to Tim Burton’s adaption of the story in the film “Sleepy Hollow” starring Johnny Depp. This story has been done in many film adaptations, even cartoons, but Burton’s is the most popular to date. Because the film often veers off from the original story, it’s worth the time to go back and read the original Irving tale.


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