The Best Books Turned Mini-Series

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC The Best Books Turned Mini-Series

To celebrate the Blu-ray and DVD release of Olive Kitteridge on the 9th of February 2015, we take a look at a selection of some of the best books that have been turned into highly acclaimed and successful mini-series’.

Olive Kitteridge


Based on Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, Olive Kitteridge tells the story of a seemingly placid New England town wrought with illicit affairs, crime and tragedy. The story unfolds through the lens of Olive (Frances McDormand), whose wicked wit and harsh demeanor mask a warm but troubled heart.  The story focuses on her relationships with her husband, Henry (Richard Jenkins), the good-hearted town pharmacist and their son, Christopher (John Gallagher Jr.), who resents his mother’s approach to parenting. It also resolves around her relationship with members of their community.

With a star-studded cast and crew including Academy Award®-winning Tom Hanks as executive producer and Bill Murray, Peter Mullan, Rosemarie DeWitt, Zoe Kazan and Martha Wainwright all featuring in the series, Olive Kitteridge has been nominated for several awards including three Golden Globes®. Most recently, Frances McDormand received a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for her role in Olive Kitteridge.


Pride and Prejudice


Pride and Prejudice, one of the most popular novels in English literature by Jane Austen, was made into a six episode mini-series in 1995.  Following the famous story of Elizabeth Bennet, the viewer is transported into the world of the 19th century, where pride kept lovers from each other and prejudice occurred between the classes.

Featuring a star-studded cast including Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, the series won both an Emmy® and a BAFTA® Award alongside many other award wins and nominations.


John Adams

The American mini-series John Adams, based on the life of USA’s second President, gives insight into the life of John Adams’ political life and his role in the nation’s first 50 years. Based on the book with the same name by David McCullough, Kirk Ellis wrote the screenplay and together with the crew and cast made John Adams a mini-series success.

Starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, John Adams won four Golden Globes® and beat the previous record with 23 Emmy® nominations, for which the mini-series won 13.


Mildred Pierce


Based on the novel of the same name by James M. Cain in 1947, the five part mini-series follows the life of the divorced single mother, Mildred Pierce (Kate Winslet), during the Great Depression. After throwing her husband out, Mildred decides to open her own restaurant, as the jobs available do not inspire her.  Alongside opening the restaurant and falling in love with her husband’s ex-business partner (Guy Pearce), Mildred struggles with the tense relationship she has with her eldest daughter, Veda.

Mildred Pierce has won several awards and nominations, including a Golden Globe® for Kate Winslet for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series and five Emmy® Awards.


Generation Kill


Generation Kill is the mini-series based on the book of the same name by Rolling Stones reporter, Evan Wright. Adapted into a mini-series in 2008, the seven episodes are based on Evan Wright’s experiences during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 with the U.S. Marine Corps 1st Reconnaissance Battalion.

With a stellar cast including Alexander Skarsgard and James Ransone, Generation Kill won three Emmys® alongside many other award wins and nominations.


The Pillars of the Earth


The best-selling work of Ken Follet was adapted in 2010 ino a nine episode mini-series. Based in England during the 12th century, The Pillars of the Earth centres on the construction of a cathedral during The Anarchy, a turbulent period of English history.  The mini-series showcases the conditions of the war and how these created power struggles and influenced the characters’ lives, families and relationships.  The mini-series featured a star-studded cast including Ian McShane, Matthew Macfadyen, Eddie Redmayne, Hayley Atwell and Sarah Parish.

The success of Ken Follet’s writing is reflected in the mini-series, which won an Emmy® Award and was also nominated for 3 Golden Globes®.


The Shining


Directed by Mick Garris, the classic horror The Shining by Stephen King was aired as a three-part mini-series in 1997. The story follows the life of a recovering alcoholic, who takes on the job of looking after the Overlook Hotel. After having arrived to the hotel it becomes clear that the house is haunted and John (Steven Weber), the main character, struggles with his demons.

Also starring Rebecca De Mornay, The Shining won two Emmy® Awards.

Olive Kitteridge is out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download on 9th February 2015, courtesy of HBO Home Entertainment.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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