The Chocolate War Revisited

Mention YA films – a term most often associated with films adapted from books for young adults – and most people think of sci-fi/fantasy franchises. It’s understandable as they’re the most common and popular examples, with the seventeen highest grossing YA adaptations consisting of films from just three franchises. Keep reading down the list and you’ll find only eight of the top fifty tell real-world stories without genre trappings. (And that’s including The Princess Diaries and its sequel, both of which should probably count as fantasy if we’re being honest.) Non-genre YA titles typically focus on young love, sometimes with a dash of cancer, and while those are perfectly valid topics they’re often no more thought-provoking than that Shailene Woodley franchise where she plays a girl who saves the world by being really good at multitasking.

You’d be forgiven for not knowing it, but there are actually some truly challenging and provocative YA adaptations out there too. They’re just not typically the ones that make a splash at the box-office. From Lord of the Flies (1963, 1990) to The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), smart and stimulating adaptations for developing minds do exist, and one of the absolute best turned thirty years old this month. The Chocolate War is a fantastically affecting film based on a brilliant novel that should still be required reading in schools.

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