From book to movie: ‘Spiderhead’ is a failed experiment | Rolling Stone Italy

The literary derivation of a film is always something to watch out for. It may happen that a production turns to a text that is not so popular, but of quality. The film is Spiderheadthe paper master is Escape from Spiderhead, a short story by George Saunders. We are in the near future. Spiderhead is a real prison fortress that houses an advanced research center: the inmates live in an almost ideal environment, relaxed by the architecture, structured in an “intelligent” design that favors a certain quality of life. In reality, the inmates seem free to live the life they want, but only in appearance.

There is a price to pay, not a small one. They have to undergo certain experiments of Dr. Steve Abnesti, who applies a device to their backs that regulates the administration of various drugs that cause targeted effects on behavior. These are substances that act in the various spheres of the brain, enhancing sensations, relaunching talkativeness and even acting on the perception of love and the deepest depression. But what is the ultimate reason for these experiments?

The authors. For Joseph Kosinski 2022 will be a year to remember: he has signed two titles, not just, Top Gun: Maverick And Spiderhead, precisely. My memory brings me back, in due proportion, to a similar case, involving Victor Fleming, who in 1939 signed Gone With the Wind And The Wizard of Oz. Two titles that enter the noble history of cinema. It will not happen for the Kosinski films.

Of course, the director’s two “contemporary” works are very different, perhaps opposite. Top Gun is a blockbuster that has been to the top of the box office in many countries, Spiderhead is taken from the literary text mentioned above. Saunders’ story was published in the prestigious newspaper The New Yorker and it is legible online. The writer represents the theme in a very different key from that of the director, but it lies in the disciplines, given that cinema has very different rules from literature, which by its nature has more possibilities for deepening the contents. Saunders thus had the opportunity to extend his research to the manipulation of emotions to a focus on the ontological doubts of human nature.

Book-film. The term is contamination, a lemma with a non-positive meaning, however it happened that a director allowed himself to be contaminated and perhaps heavy licenses and a quality film came out anyway. It is very difficult for a film to live up to the book from which it is based. Flash memory evokes me The leoparda title that the authorship can be divided between Lampedusa and Visconti, and then Furore, with the two signatures of Steinbeck and Ford. Also worth mentioning is Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann, who completely upset Shakespeare, however, signing a “cinema” masterpiece. But Spiderhead it is not part of those summits.

A structure like the one represented is certainly not new in the films. The theme is very dear to science fiction. And here, too, a literary reference is worth, a master’s degree, a sort of prime mover. The name is Aldous Huxley, a British writer and philosopher who was interested in spiritual themes and parapsychology and who was the protagonist of academic circles and one of the leaders of modern thought. He wrote a book, The new world, which is considered a classic and which makes text in that key. Humans manipulate their character with various psychiatric drugs. The scenario is a dystopian prison “made up” by a patina of comfort that makes it look like a real utopia. A place that has given set designers the opportunity to invent and amaze. To make “cinema”. But then the writing fell short of the paper original. But, I repeat, it almost never is.

From book to movie: ‘Spiderhead’ is a failed experiment | Rolling Stone Italy