China Miéville’s celebrated New Weird fiction, from the grime-encrusted, otherworldly body horrors of Perdido Street Station to unimaginably alien creatures that occupy the planet of Embassytown, don’t exactly scream “television adaptation,” which is a real shame for those of us who would sell our souls to a maniacal inter-dimensional spider god to see the floating city of The Scar brought to life onscreen.
If there is one novel that has a shot at it, it’s The City and the City, his much-lauded, brain-breaking twist on noir conventions that tracks a murderer through two antagonistic cities that occupy the same physical space at the same time. It’s actually happened before, albeit on a very small scale—the Lifeline Theater, an independent theater company in Chicago, put on a stage production of the novel in 2013 that managed to make an potentially unwieldy narrative work visually on a single, stripped-down set. (I was lucky enough to attend the show on the same night as Miéville, who was a visiting professor in the city at the time; we were both impressed.)
Now it looks like a more lavish production is in the works for the U.K.’s BBC: Recently, Screen Daily quietly reported that Tony Grisoni, the writer behind the Terry Gilliam version of another nigh-unfilmable novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, has been working on the screenplay for a four-part adaptation. There are scant details about when the project might actually air, but the BBC (which will soon premiere another ambitious fantastical book-to-film translation with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) at least generally moves much more quickly than American television.
If The City and the City eventually finds small screen success, hopefully it will open the door to yet more cinematic explorations of the author’s work. If Hollywood can throw $175 million at Jupiter Ascending, why not a lavishly budgeted film about a murderous killer moth that drives an entire city mad by feasting on its dreams?
(via Out There Books)