Ray Bradbury is a famous name in literature, especially science fiction, although his work touches on more than just that genre. Several of his novels and short stories have been adapted for the small and the big screen, and he participated in the writing of some of the most iconic science fiction and fantasy films of the 20th century.
Not all adaptations have been perfect, of course, and even when the movie or show is a decent product, other things can go wrong and make it less successful. Bad publicity, a low budget, or disagreements between the director and the studio can derail an entire production even if the story and casting are on point. Bradbury’s work as it appears on screen can go either way depending on the viewer’s personal opinion of the original, and the author himself didn’t mince words when offering his own thoughts on the matter.
6 The Martian Chronicles (1980)
This BBC mini-series had all the hallmarks of a successful adaptation, at least at first. It had a cast with big names like Rock Hudson and Bernadette Peters, a soundtrack with over 30 songs, more than decent production values, and it was an adaptation of a novel of the same name by a popular author with literary weight.
However, things started to go wrong when Ray Bradbury himself described the show as “boring” during a solo press conference. Although he and screenwriter Richard Mathieson worked on the adaptation together, Bradbury was disappointed with the result, which deviated significantly from his original story. Even though the series ended in 1979, this poor marketing was enough to delay the release for a year, but fans and critics eventually gave in. The Martian Chronicles a positive reception.
5 He Came From Outer Space (1953)
One of the first science fiction films that broke new ground in special effects, He came from outer space was adapted from a story that Ray Bradbury wrote but never published. The premise of a story about a UFO crashing in the desert and the unlucky people who get their first glimpse of it seems cliché now, but at the time it was a novel idea, and it mixed the horror genre popular with sci-fi elements.
Critics had a lukewarm response to the film, but reviews were still more positive than negative. The film resonated with mainstream audiences and it was not only a box office success, it also won lead actress Barbara Rush a Golden Globe. A suite made for television, He Came From Outer Space II, which was released in 1996, was a bonafide failure that hardly anyone even knows if happened.
4 Picasso Summer (1969)
Ray Bradbury wrote the screenplay for this film as well as the short story on which it is based, “A Season Of Calm Weather”. It’s a psychological drama that doesn’t have a sci-fi or fantasy angle at all, other than maybe a bit of magical realism in the main character’s midlife ravings, which is also why Bradbury wrote it under the pseudonym of Douglas Spaulding.
It’s adorned with paintings by Picasso, is mostly shot in France, and stars Yvette Mimieux, which is well worth watching. Overall, however, reviews for the film are mixed. Bradbury fans who love his sci-fi should check it out to see another side of his work, and it’s also a good choice for those who prefer drama over fantasy or sci-fi. .
3 Dominus (1990)
One of Bradbury’s lesser-known horror adaptations, this Russian film is based on two of his short stories, The Black Ferris and The Scythe. It is told in an anthology style in two parts, one for each, and could also be presented as a miniseries.
Despite the low budget and limited release, the film has a strong fan base, and critics have praised its art style. The Black Ferris had previously been adapted as two films with the title Something bad this way comes, but The Scythe was new to the concept of adapting to the screen.
2 Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
The best known of Bradbury’s works, most people study the original book as part of their high school English literature program, and often this film has also been included as part of the overall study of the novel. The screenplay was written by Jean-Louis Richard and François Truffaut, with little input from Bradbury. However, he would later say he was happy with how the film adaptation turned out. except for some casting choices.
The screenplay undergoes no major changes from the novel, with the main storyline and plot remaining mostly intact, except for a love story between Montag and Clarisse. The film received mixed reviews in its day, but today it’s garnering critical acclaim and might be the best overall adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s work.
1 The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
Monsters Under the Ocean is not entirely a Japanese concept. Many writers have written about the horrors of the brackish awakening after an atomic explosion to terrorize the earth. This film is older Godzilla by more than a year. The screenplay is based on Ray Bradbury’s short story, “The Fog Horn”, which was published in 1951.
The character referred to in the title is a fictional dinosaur called Rhedosaurus, who is awakened from hibernation by an explosion set off as part of a test in the Arctic. Critics were unimpressed with the story, but audiences loved it and the financial success of The 20,000 Fathom Beast was one of the pop culture mainstays that made possible the trend of bog monster disaster movies.
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