Friday, June 11, 2010

Vincenzo Natali Adapting Neuromancer

/Film reported the news a while back, but there's now official confirmation that Splice director Vincenzo Natali will direct a film adaptation of William Gibson's Neuromancer.

I have a serious affinity for Neuromancer, and to be honest the fact that Natali will be directing it accounts for like half of my excitement for Splice. I'm still excited to see Splice on its own merits (though with some significant apprehensions), but I'll be unusually suspicious of the directorial talents on display. If someone is going to make a film adaptation of Neuromancer they better be on their fucking game, and Natali still has everything to prove as far as I'm concerned.

A while back I asked whether or not a cultural product can be so influential as to render itself irrelevant for adaptation; I used Neuromancer as an example of a book that has not been adapted into a major film but has nevertheless made a serious impact on contemporary cinema by inspiring more popular movies, particularly The Matrix. In a recent interview with /Film's David Chen, Natali specifically addressed how his adaptation will negotiate the significant cultural weight of The Matrix in adapting Neuromancer. I'm including the relevant section of the interview here, but you should really check out /Film for the full piece, there's both video and text available and it's a great interview. Natali clearly has a lot of passion, time will tell whether or not he has the competence to match it.

On making Neuromancer in a post-Matrix world, he says:

“For me, it’s a story of redemption, if you want to get down to the core element of it. I think in terms of how you approach Neuromancer now, post-Matrix, post-all the other films that have poached from it, in the 21st century (because the book was written in 1984), I think you have to take those things and use them to your advantage, because what they give you, what The Matrix, for instance, gives you is the opportunity to make Neuromancer in a culture that is already aware of what The Matrix is. I mean, the very word “matrix” is in Neuromancer. It was borrowed by the Wachowski brothers for their film. I think that’s a good thing, because I don’t even know how someone would have been able to make that film 10 years ago or 15 years ago, because it’s so abstract. I don’t even know how people understood the book when it first came out. I think I read it in the late 1980s, but in 1984, how would people even understand it, because it was just so far ahead of the curve?

I think when you read it now, it still feels very relevant, maybe in some ways more relevant, because so much of what it predicted has come to pass. And therefore, my approach to it would be to be very realistic. I think The Matrix is a wonderful film, but it absolutely takes place in a comic book universe…everything about it, in the best possible way mind you, but really I think it’s a very heightened reality..."

1 comment:

  1. While I wish very much for cyberpunk to remain relevant in the same way it was in the 80s and early 90s I don't think that's possible. Bringing Neuromancer "up to date" may be achievable , but I think it would lose part of what I so enjoy about the novel. It will become a different entity and if that's the case, what's the point of adapting it in the first place? And you make an excellent point about its saturated influence rendering it irrelevant. Anyone not familiar with the novel will feel like they've seen it before because they have and repeatedly.

    I can only say that I think it's a good thing that usually directors change projects a zillion times before they get anything done.