“Mitchell never imagined his book could be adapted for the screen. Like Finnegans Wake though more readable, like Infinite Jest though shorter, as unsuitable to cinematic representation as Tristram Shandy or Life: A User’s Manual, Cloud Atlas was doomed, he believed, to remain mere literature.”
As regular readers know, I adore David Mitchell. So much so in fact that I was reduced to a babbling fan-girl when I met him at the Dublin Writers Festival a couple of years ago. I asked him to sign my book and he was very gracious, funny and kind. I, on the other hand, was a nitwit who managed to half-insult him as he was doing so!
I wrote recently about Cloud Atlas, my favourite of Mitchell’s novels, being adapted into a film starring Halle Berry and Tom Hanks. I still haven’t seen it and am still undecided about doing so. (In that post I also wrote about Life of Pi which I now have seen and urge everyone to see in 3D before it leaves the cinema.)
In an interview in The Guardian (from which the above quote is taken) Mitchell talks about the process of getting the novel to screen and it’s a fascinating read. He talks at one point about being a novelist rather than a screenwriter:
“I’m too much of a novel nerd to spend time and energy learning screenwriting – if I could. There’s also a degree of megalomania you may have noticed with novelists. I want to describe the storm. I don’t want to write: ‘Night. Ext. Storm’ and somebody else goes off and designs the storm.”
Brilliant! For anyone interested in his work you can check out the full interview here.