Some books seem like a natural fit for a movie adaptation. Chuck Palahniuk’s Snuff is not one of those books. A kind of thriller set in the porn world, Snuff follows an aging porn star’s quest to break the world record for onscreen fornication — with 600 men. Most of the characters are naked for the majority of the book, and the final orgy sequence makes Caligula look like, well, something much less disturbing than Caligula. But according to Chuck Palahniuk’s official website, the Snuff movie is happening. Personally, I’m a little bit intrigued to see just what, exactly, director Fabien Martorell can do with such a gonzo premise. The news got me thinking: Are there any other books that you just don’t think would work as movies? And why?
When I think of unfilmable books, my mind always goes to Gerald’s Game. It’s one of the few Stephen King books to never even come close to being adapted. The reason: The book takes place entirely in one room, with the lead female character handcuffed naked to a bed. It’s a thrilling, freaky read, and I guess you could argue that it’s not that much different from 127 Hours or Buried, but it’s hard to imagine any actress willingly signing up to be so exposed for the complete running time of a movie. On the violence end of the spectrum, I can’t imagine anyone actually making a movie out of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. It’s one of my favorite books, but it’s simultaneously overstuffed with events and kind of plotless, and the violence is so horrifically graphic that it almost seems like a felony to try and film it. (But good luck, James Franco!)
I asked some other kids in the PopWatch gang for their personal picks for utterly unfilmable books. Hillary Busis picks City of Glass by Paul Auster: “It starts out as a straightforward story about a writer who, on a whim, decides to impersonate a detective after someone mistakes him for a private eye, then gets progressively weirder and more experimental until it stops telling a linear story altogether.” Jeff Labrecque chimes in with Atlas Shrugged and “Don DeLillo’s best works.” Stephan Lee picks Flann O’Brien’s gonzo The Third Policeman and William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. (But good look, James Franco!) Samantha Harmon says, “Haruki Murakami books would be tough to make into film, but more so because of the plot and not sexual content.”
I asked Professor Annie Q. Barrett for her opinion, and after much deliberation, she responded: “Books are stupid!”
PopWatchers, are there any other books you just can’t even conceive as movies? Anyone want to stump for a gritty futuristic reboot of Remembrance of Things Past? Is the solution for Snuff just to give everyone clothes? And wouldn’t that kind of ruin the point of Snuff?
Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich