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Jay Maidment/Warner Bros. Pictures

This fall is a fruitful season for stories making the trip from page to screen, with three major films based on books. We break down the adaptations.

FILM: Cloud Atlas
STARRING: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant
BASED ON: David Mitchell’s 2004 novel

Meta in the best sense, this intellectual and emotional stunner links characters across time and space with six stories that fit together like Russian nesting dolls. Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) adapted the screenplay and directed.

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Laurie Sparham/Focus Features

FILM: Anna Karenina
STARRING: Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Emily Watson
BASED ON: Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel

Joe Wright — who did a commendable job with adaptations of Atonement (a 2007 film of literary betrayal based on Ian McEwan’s book of the same name) and Pride and Prejudice (a 2005 film based on the Jane Austen novel) — directs this tale of infidelity and romance among Russian aristocrats in the 19th century.

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Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

FILM: Life of Pi
STARRING: Suraj Sharma
BASED ON: Yann Martel’s 2001 novel

Academy Award–winning director Ang Lee used 3-D technology to animate this surreal and spiritual work of fiction in which a ship carrying the emigrating son of an Indian zookeeper and a hold full of animals sinks, leaving the young man to survive by taking to a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.