So the undoable has been done. Captain Blue Cock, Inky face and the rest of the ‘Watchmen’, after 20 plus years of trying to find a way onto the big screen, have finally landed with a big kaboom and almost everyone seems pretty happy with the result. Like ‘American Psycho’ and ‘Perfume’ before it, the naysayers were saying it just couldn’t be done. Which begs the question is anything ‘unfilmable’ anymore?
Unfilmable films being filmed right now:
‘Life Of Pi’
Recently recommended to me by a friend with good taste and nice hair, one of the loveliest things about the ‘Life of Pi’ is it stretches the imagination in a way the visual medium of film will simply take away. While the bullshit story he sells to the insurance company at the end could easily be filmed and made to work, the true story about him and the carnivorous rascal Richard Parker seems best left on the page. However, hope may have come in the form of Ang ‘yet to make a bad film’ Lee who has just been signed up to direct.
‘The Lovely Bones’
Not content with adapting the behemoth that is the ‘Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy (and now the Hobbit plus one) Peter Jackson is at this very moment working on the tale of little Susie Salmon and her life in heaven. There is no reason why heaven set films can’t work, (‘A Matter Of Life And Death’ being one of my mostest favouritest films ever made) but the big New Zealander will have to do well to keep the vision of Susie’s personal heaven that Sebold paints so well. Also Mark Wahlberg as the father…dubious.
Unfilmable films that have almost been filmed:
While only a short, the great Peter Capaldi (Malcolm Tucker from the ‘The Thick Of It’) directed a homage to ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ seen through the eyes Of Franz Kafka writing his most famously unmakeable book. Probably as close as we’ll get to the surrealist work on screen, it features Richard E. Grant on top form as the writer struggling with his opening line. “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning he found himself transformed into a gigantic…banana?”
‘The Orchid Thief’
A surprisingly riveting book about plants (writer’s note: I had to read it as part of my MA. I don’t often run around reading books about flowers) was half adapted by Charlie Kaufman into ‘Adaptation’. Such was the ‘unfilmable’ nature of the work Charlie ended up putting himself in the script…masturbating over Susan Orlean, the author of the book. We’ve all been there.
Unfilmable films that are as yet unfilmed:
‘The Catcher In The Rye’
Unreliable storytelling and complete first person narration are two things guaranteed to halt a good adaptation. Lack of any real plot is also a bit of a ballache but that hasn’t stopped every one from Marlon Brando to Leo DiCaprio to John Cusack wanting a crack at J.D. Salinger’s eponymous hero. The closest it would seem we’ll get is Jake Gyllenhaal’s Holden-esque character in ‘The Good Girl’. That or Mark Chapman in any number of John Lennon biopics.
Well that Mohammed fella would be hard to cast. Can I get a fatwa now? It would really help my career.