Happy early Father’s Day! For this week’s edition of Film Fest Friday I’m sharing a list of my five favorite literary father figures who have also been wonderfully portrayed in various film adaptations. I love these books, I love these movies (ok, one is a television show), I love these wildly different fictional dads who all share one thing in common – love for their kiddos.
Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
Book release: 1908
Movie release: 1985
Portrayed by: Richard Farnsworth
Shy old bachelor Matthew Cuthbert may not be known for overt displays of affection toward precocious orphan Anne Shirley, but there’s no doubt that he loves her more than anything, even if he originally expected to adopt a boy to help him out on the farm. I get a little weepy every time I read his final lines, in which he perfectly sums up everything he feels for Anne in his own quiet, unimposing manner – “Well now, I’d rather have you than a dozen boys, Anne…Just mind you that – rather than a dozen boys. Well now, I guess it wasn’t a boy that took the Avery scholarship, was it? It was a girl – my girl – my girl that I’m proud of.”
A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin
Book release: 1996
TV show release: 2011
Portrayed by: Sean Bean
Poor Ned may have ultimately been too honorable for his (and his family’s, and his country’s) own good, but he was a pretty awesome dad, all things considered. In a ruthless, medieval-inspired fantasy world where super shitty parental figures abound, Ned truly cares about the well-being of his kids (even the bastard one!) and shows them uncommon love and affection. I especially admire the relationship he has with his two young daughters – he loves his girls for who they are and doesn’t treat them like political baby-making pawns.
Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
Book release: 1862
Movie release: 1998, 2012
Portrayed by: Liam Neeson, Hugh Jackman
I can’t decide which film portrayal of this character I love best – Liam Neeson from the non-musical 1998 film, or Hugh Jackman in the most recent musical adaptation. Both of them transform themselves into a great Jean Valjean – an ex con on the run who finds profound love and redemption after adopting and devoting the remainder of his life to a little girl named Cossette.
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Book release: 1813
Movie release: 2005
Portrayed by: Donald Sutherland
Although he enjoys sitting back and making sarcastic digs at his silly wife and daughters, when it comes down to the serious fatherly stuff, Mr. Bennet delivers. Especially when it comes to his favorite daughter, Lizzy. He doesn’t force her to marry that ass Mr. Collins, even though it would offer their family a measure of security, and he makes sure she’s truly happy with her final decision to marry Mr. Darcy.
To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Book release: 1960
Movie release: 1962
Portrayed by: Gregory Peck
He just might be the most beloved fictional father figure in both literature and film. Atticus Finch is a widower trying to lead by example and raise his kids with integrity and compassion during some very trying times. Throughout the entire book he’s just the greatest, even if he is too old to play football with Jem, but that final scene where Scout gently reminds him of one of one of the lessons he previously taught her is beautiful in both book and film.