I hate to jump all over another man’s breaking news, but this one hits far too close to home for me to ignore – there is a Cloud Atlas film adaptation in the works involving the Wachowski Brothers. Oh Shit. No no no no.
Director Tom Tykwer – of the upcoming Clive Owen film, The International – is apparently working on a script for David Mitchell’s novel with the “everything-we’ve-touched-since-The–Matrix-turns-to-crap” Wachowskis. FirstShowing.net ran a little piece on Thursday about an interview they had with Tykwer in which he mentioned the project:
“I’m trying to adapt a novel called Cloud Atlas, which is a novel by David Mitchell that I’m really completely excited about. And I’m sitting down with the Wachowski Brothers and trying to adapt that for a screenplay. It’s very interesting.”
The Hollywood buffoon who wrote the FirstShowing.net piece, Alex Billington, shows his hand by wondering “which of the six (storylines Tykwer) would be focusing on…the next big question to be answered.” Sorry to be a Book-Snob, but I am what I am: the WHOLE POINT of Cloud Atlas is that the six different narratives intertwine to create a larger whole – the six individuals cannot exist without the others! Focus on one story – ha! I don’t mean to yell, but anyone who knows me knows how I feel about Mitchell’s work – there is no novelist alive that I more eagerly anticipate the next volume of work from. (Well, maybe Salinger?) Mitchell has gradually become my favorite author over the years and has become my slamdunk, this-book-will-change-your-life handsell at the bookstore. I have tagged him as my Franchise Author. I will sign him to a long term contract. He will not be traded to the Wachowski Brothers.
Sorry – bit of an incoherent rant there. For those who’ve not yet read Mitchell, his books Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas, and presumably his upcoming “Nagasaki” novel, rely upon multiple narrators and multiple storylines to weave together a broad-reaching overall plot. There is a lot going on in a David Mitchell novel and they tend to demand multiple readings, simply for the reader to be able to fathom the depth of what they have just read. Atlas is a very intricate, multi-layered, intertwining onion of a book and I can see how it might translate to film – there’s no denying that it has tremendous visuals and the complex narration could be fabulous in the right hands. Tykwer may be the right guy for this – his adaptation for Patrick Suskind’s Perfume was fairly spot-on – but I think the Wachowskis would be a mistake, as they have failed to produce any film of lasting value since the original Matrix. Speed Racer? The third Matrix film? Speed Racer? I think that their rumored involvement in this project has to be directly related to the final two sections of the novel – the futuristic societies of An Orison of Sonmi-451 and Sloosha’s Crossin’ An’ Ev’rythin’ After – I can see them being able to pull those sections off, visually, but the other four parts would require a more gentle touch. There’s no denying their skills as cinematic visionaries, but their penchant for George Lucas-like dialogue worries me. Cloud Atlas would demand extra attention in order to get the complexity right – I think the only way this could be put on film correctly would be with David Mitchell’s help. And I’m sure ego would interfere here, as this is Hollywood afterall, but maybe different directors for each section would be the way to go – each has such different style, pace, and characters that to trust anyone other than Mitchell himself to bring all six to life would be nearly impossible.
The project seems to be in a very early stage, but it still strikes fear into the depths of my very soul.