Fiction2Film: Zombies … an Oral History & a Love Story
In our Fiction 2 Film (F2F) posts, we will share news and tidbits we learn about author’s stories which have made the jump from paper to film.
~ Zombies … An Oral History ~
If you are a fan of zombie novels, you have already heard about Max Brooks‘ World War Z film adaption starting Brad Pitt. In fact, if you’re a major fan, you’ve already read the book. But, have you heard the major changes to the story? Kofi Outlaw writing for Screen Rant.com discusses the fact that, although it is a “tricky narrative format to transfer to film” the main character, who in the book is a U.N. employee that interviews zombie apocalypse survivors on their experiences, will be quite different in the film.
Paramount’s announcement stated, “The story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself.” This is indeed a different take on the story. How does author Max Brooks feel about the change?
He acknowledges how difficult it could be turning the book into a film during his interview with the Daily Record. He admits, “It doesn’t have a main character, the storyline is told from a hundred different points of view, would be prohibitively expensive filming in all these different countries.” He also realizes the challenge this brings saying, “You couldn’t pay me to turn it into a film.” However, he doesn’t seem worried about the changes, but rather excited to see how it all turns out. “I’m not involved so I just want to be able to enjoy watching the movie when it comes out,” he explained. “At least I know they did at least as much research into things as I did for the book.” In his 26 Aug 2011 blog post, after visiting the set in Glasgow, Max stated, “While I’m still largely in the dark concerning the overall story, it was reassuring to hear from Brad Pitt and Marc Forster that their goal is to make a smart, deep, geopolitical movie. I trust their talent and their intentions and I look forward to seeing what they come up with.” He also learned from the January 3rd LA Times article, that states, “Forster [the director] and Paramount Pictures each view “World War Z” as a trilogy that would have the grounded, gun-metal realism of, say, Damon’s Jason Bourne series tethered to the unsettling end-times vibe of AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead.'” That’s a nice thought (for them financially), but will fans love the first film enough to support the making of a trilogy?
‘World War Z’, the Fiction
“The end was near.” —Voices from the Zombie War
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.
Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.
Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”
Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.
‘World War Z’, the Film
Will the film be a hit among Brooks’ fans? Zombie fans? Pitt fans? Only time will tell.
But, in E! News’ interview with actress Mireille Enos, who plays Pitt’s wife in the film, she said, “It’s like zombies are the new vampires.” And, it would seem she isn’t far off as we have seen the number of zombie-related books increase over the past year. “It’s taking over. But somebody said to me this movie might end the zombie genre because, after this, what else is there to do? It’s huge!” Now, this statement is not one with which I can agree.
I’ll watch the movie, I may even love it, but “end the zombie genre” because of its awesomeness? Nah, probably not. Romero has been doing good zombies for many, many years. Others will surely follow.
‘World War Z’ is scheduled to hit theaters on, you guessed it, 12/21/12. How apropos.
[Trailer can be viewed here.]
~ Zombies … A Love Story ~
Now, I have to admit that about a year ago, someone told me about a zombie romance and my first reaction was “Thanks, but no thanks.” Then, I decided to give Isaac Marion‘s Warm Bodies a go. The story is told from the perspective of R, a zombie who, try as he might, cannot remember much about his life before now. Then, he meets his (living) sweetheart. The book was a quick read, but one that proved in the end that Virgil may have had it right when he said, “Love conquers all things; let us too surrender to love.”
I was happily surprised to see on that Isaac’s book is also being adapted to film. Unlike Brooks’ “fiction2film,” Marion’s appears to be more of a direct adaption than a variation on the story. Although director Jonathan Levine is writing the script, he consulted with Marion during the process.
In an interview with Jonathan Liu, or “GeekDad” of Wired Magazine, he explained, I’ve not been directly involved as far as collaborating on it, but I’ve been consulted a lot, a lot more than what’s normal, from what I’m told. When they first hired the director he had lunch with me and just chatted about his ideas and vision for the whole thing, and he’s been interacting with me as he wrote the script. He’d call me up and ask me questions: what’s this part about, or how do you see this and that.
I read some draft of the script — I’m not sure how far along it was — and then I got to give notes on that, and later read another draft and gave some notes. It seems like they’re really respectful of my opinion and they seem to really care what I think, which is cool. Very unusual, from what I’m told. Even major best-selling authors who have all the clout in the world, sometimes they just tell them: “Get lost, we don’t care what you think. Just let us make this movie.” Everyone I’ve told about this who knows how that works has been amazed, that they actually have involved me.
Do you think that will make a difference to those who have read the book and watch the movie? I know it will for me. As much as I enjoy seeing a film director’s interpretation of a novel, sometimes I want to see the author’s original story, as is, on the big screen. Of course, just because there has been so much director-author collaboration does not mean the film will be identical to the novel. It is always hard to completely translate one to the other, yes?
Either way, Marion sounds excited about the film. Although he did not have much say regarding the casting process, per the USA Today article, he didn’t see that as a problem because he wasn’t sure “how it would have been if [he] had hated them. But they worked out.” He plans to watch the film in the theater instead of with the executives because “If something bad happened, [he] wouldn’t want them to see [him] cowering.” That said, he wants to visit the production set as much as possible because, “The whole thing is fascinating and exciting.” He may even try to “… sneak in the background and get eaten by a zombie.”
‘Warm Bodies’, the Fiction
A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.
R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.
Not just another zombie novel, Warm Bodies is funny, scary, and deeply moving.
‘Warm Bodies’, the Film
As I said, it was initially hard for me to envision a zombie novel as a romance. However, either Marion’s writing changed my perception or love really does affect us all – living or undead. Marion can relate to our uncertainties about a romantic zombie. “I didn’t want to sanitize him into something I called a zombie,” Marion says. “You watch him kill people and eat people and do horrific things zombies do. There’s a germ of change in there, so you hear him give his distaste for things but this is what we do.
“A lot of people can relate to that mindless repetition, that people do things they don’t want to do all the time. It’s the starting point for his character, and he develops an awareness for what his options are. It seemed natural to make him sympathetic because everyone’s been there at some point, in a place of misery and wanting to get out.” The fact that R goes through his routines even while he dreads them was absolutely something to which I could relate. It made him feel more real, I guess.
Teresa Palmer, who plays R’s love interest, Julie, says Nicholas Hoult is “… so beautiful to work with. He does such an incredible performance. He’s playing a zombie, so he can’t say much, but he’s very expressive with his eyes.” And, he would have to be to pull this off. The book is full of R’s internal dialogue, so I’m very interested to see how that will be represented on screen. I’ve certainly seen that work well in some and not in others.
I wasn’t going to say this because so many others are asking the same question, but after seeing this picture I feel I have to ask … Will these two be the new Edward & Bella? It may not be too far fetched a question since Summit Entertainment, the production company behind Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight films, is also behind Marion’s film. The picture is certainly reminiscent of Twilight pics. I’d say they should try to be more original, but on second thought, it was most likely intentional as they try to lure young adult paranormal romance readers into the theater.
‘Warm Bodies’ is scheduled to hit theaters on 8/10/12.
[To date, no official trailer exists, but you can view the book trailer here.]
Related posts: “Fiction2Film” feature on Stephenie Meyer’s ‘The Host’ and our “Zombie Awareness Month” posts
Posted on January 25, 2012, in Book News, Book to Screen, Dystopia, Fiction2Film, Highly Anticipated, Isaac Marion, Max Brooks, Post-Apocalyptic, Random Musings, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Urban Fantasy (+ bit'o romance) and tagged Movie News, New in 2012. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.