I, like many others, have rarely watched a film adaptation of a book that I enjoyed more than the book itself. Books give us so much more detail and let our imaginations run wild with interpretations of our own. We rely on the author’s creative prose to help us feel the grit of the dust that has made it into every nook and cranny of our being, to help us imagine the isolation one would feel thousands of miles from their home in an unknown environment, and the fatigue yet satisfaction of back to back days of hundreds of miles on the road.
That all being said, film helps bring to life the pages from our favorite books with sights and sounds, and it also expands the audience to those who enjoy movies more than books. I have compiled the following eight books, most of which I have read but not all, to be books we would like to see made into movies. If you haven’t had the chance to pick up and read some of these titles, I would highly recommend giving them some consideration.
Jupiter’s Travels chronicles Ted Simon’s 78,000-mile trip around the world over the span of four years and 45 different countries. This book begs to be brought to film. “Over Mountains, through jungles, across deserts and oceans, living with peasants and presidents, in prisons and palaces, through wars and revolutions; experiencing the depths of fear, the heights of euphoria, and the rewards of love.”
Simon does an outstanding job of keeping readers eyes glued to the pages while stirring a wanderlust in their hearts of adventures of their own. Most famously, Ewan McGregor has been quoted as stating Jupiter’s Travels inspired his documentary and book, The Long Way Round. Maybe someone should ask Ewan if he would be up for playing Simon in the film adaptation?
I am probably a bit biased, but I have never been so intrigued by an athlete on so many levels as I am with Valentino Rossi. From racing to marketing and brand building, the guy is a champion in every aspect. Rossi’s autobiography gives a fascinating inside look into his life and childhood, but also the turmoil and rivalry in the paddock and secretive meetings between teams when he moved from Honda to Yamaha. I think if we wanted to see a life and times of The Doctor on the silver screen, it would have to be played by none other than himself. And before you mention it, I am aware of Faster, and Fastest, and Hitting the Apex, but this would be a biography solely about the G.O.A.T. himself.
Hunter S. Thompson may be most widely known for his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which, like the man himself, has a cult following. Perhaps also, The Rum Diary which has garnered a fair amount of attention. Why do they come to most people’s minds when you mutter the titles? Because they were adapted to film and, with the likes of Johnny Depp playing the main role in both, they have become more widely known.
In Thompson’s book, Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, Thompson writes about his time spent hanging with the Hell’s Angels of Oakland. The book offers a brutal and at times uncomfortable insight into the daily life of one of the country’s oldest MCs and Hunter’s relationship with the members. I have no doubt Mr. Depp would be a shoo-in for the role of Thompson in this film adaptation as well.
Imagine if you had to circumnavigate the world without TPMS and OFFROAD modes (for both fueling and ABS) or knobby tires on your state-of-the-art 500-plus-pound adventure bike. The horror! Around the World on a Motorcycle 1928 to 1936 goes to show that with enough determination and willpower, two Hungarian men could do so on a Harley-Davidson with a sidecar, in 1928. Imagine a setting like Indiana Jones only with more motorcycling. Sound Good? Let’s cast Chris Pratt and Gael Garcia Bernal (from The Motorcycle Diaries).
Helge Pedersen may be one of the only motorcyclists on this list to have used a modern-day adventure bike, or really, one of the first adventure bikes: the BMW R80 G/S. Pedersen would span the globe, crossing through 77 countries and accumulating 250,000 miles over 10 years. His travel across the Sahara desert and through the jungles of South America would be fraught with poisonous plants and animals, as well as lots of sand and mud. Helge Pedersen is still actively photo-journalizing the world, so perhaps he should play himself in next summer’s blockbuster moto-film, 10 Years on 2 Wheels.
Theresa Wallach wrote The Rugged Road about her 7500-mile journey from through Africa in 1934 accompanied by her friend Florence Blenkiron. What was the inspiration for the trip? Florence simply needed to get to South Africa, so Theresa made it happen. Sounds like as good of a reason as any. A trip of a lifetime and one for the record books as they were most likely the first to have traveled the route by motorcycle. Not just any motorcycle mind you, but a Panther 600cc motorcycle with a sidecar pulling a trailer.
Theresa Wallach’s personal story is just as interesting as her trip through Africa, if not more so. As a woman born in England, later moving to the U.S., she imported motorcycles and taught motorcycle safety. She also won the coveted Gold Star for circling the famous Brooklands circuit at over 100 mph (on a Norton 350). This movie has practically written itself. For casting, I’d nominate Jennifer Lawrence for Theresa, and perhaps Emma Watson for her friend Blenk.
Emilio Scotto took off in 1985 from his native land of Argentina on what would be a record-setting 460,000-mile journey over 10 years spanning 279 countries. Scotto’s trusty steed? A 1980 Honda Gold Wing that would consume more than 12,000 gallons of fuel, 350 gallons of oil, 86 tires, and 9 seats. Scotto’s attitude of letting the chips fall where they may saw him beginning his journey with $300, and at times through his journey, he was broke. He had also been imprisoned, shot and robbed, and the list goes on to produce a truly eye-opening and awe-inspiring journey of one man’s mental fortitude to keep going in the face of adversity. I think Javier Bardem would pull off the grit needed to give this film what it deserves.
In 1932 Robert Edison Fulton Jr., in his early 20s, was given a Douglas motorcycle outfitted with extra fuel tanks, a steel skid plate, and a special rack for his 35mm motion picture film camera (Heck, we are already on our way with this one). Fulton made his way around the world in 18 months aboard his Douglas through 20 countries and over 40,000 miles. I feel like this may have been what Lawrence of Arabia would have gone on to do had he not passed away in that fateful motorcycle accident. Fulton wrote his book, One Man Caravan, in 1937, a few years after his journey. He would later go on to release two films from his 35mm camera footage. I think Brad Pitt would be an excellent fit for the dashing young and wealthy Robert Edison Fulton Jr.