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Adaptation

Cover - David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas

The ambitious narrative structure is what first caught me with David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. As I was pulled deeper into each part of the novel’s Russian doll-style story, it was the characters and their complex, interwoven state which sucker-punched me, and I as hooked. It appealed to my nature as a reader — the novel wove the stories of the characters together in a clever way, and Mitchell’s skill at pastiche* is exploited to its fullest extent.

Nevertheless, Cloud Atlas divides people. The London Review of Books, for example, suggested that perhaps Mitchell’s novel lacked a solid core, and that the novel itself, by working to demonstrate how small the world was (with the interwoven nature of past, present and future) worked towards a very conservative world view. On the other hand, writing for the Guardian, A.S. Byatt could not have been more glowing in her praise of the novel.

Regardless of the mixed critical reception, I loved the novel. I still do.

When the intended adaptation to film was mentioned to me by CIA some time ago, I pushed the thought far out of my mind: “you cannot possibly turn this book into a film; it’ll be awful!”. A year later, in the middle of a Reykjavík living room, we talked about the extended trailer, which my friends had seen, but I had not…

…which led me first to this:

Now, I really enjoyed Run Lola Run, I also enjoyed The Matrix (let’s pretend there was only one film; no comics; no video games; no Animatrix; and other such things). So their explanation of the extended trailer had me fairly curious. At the very least, they seemed to have got at the heart of everything I loved about the novel. Without further ado, here it is:

Now, I’ll be honest, it clearly has its flaws. I’ll quote from this review of the trailer:

On the plus side, at least the novel doesn’t have Tom Hanks in it.

That’s quite harsh; Tom Hanks probably has some fine moments in his acting career. But I will admit now that I share the sentiment of that particular reviewer.

Still, after watching the trailer a number of times, I am still excited to see the entire film.

After all, adaptation is a fine art, and one must remember that by altering the medium, a new work is created — a new work with a strong connection to its basis, but a new work all the same. So its interesting, I think, that Tykwer and the siblings Wachowski sought the approval of David Mitchell.

So, which adaptations fill you with fear; with joy; with anticipation and excitement?

PJD

Videos from YouTube™, where else? Who can remember the internet before YouTube? Actually, who remembers Dialup? Oh yeah, 56 kbps – that’s the stuff, am I right?!

* a work which imitates the style of another work

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. It looks like a fascinating adaptation. I’m looking forward to how it plays out.

    September 27, 2012
    • It would seem, from a critical point of view, not to be panning out so well! But on the other hand, there does seem to be a core of people who like it.

      I can’t wait to see it, though the absence of a release date here is kind of a drag…

      November 1, 2012

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