I think Hild is going to go down as my favorite read this year! Guess I will read it again next year:) And would love to see it on a big screen. Any chance of that ever happening?
Late last year, three or four weeks after the book came out, it was optioned for an enormous sum of money. The producer is well known, respected as one of the kings of literary-novel-to-film adaptation. We had a deal—a hard-negotiated deal memo with an exceptionally big option price and a life-changing conversion price; I’d had extensive phone conversations with the producer about writers and general story parameters; I got the contract—and then, poof, the producer lost his mind and just vanished. Gone. No one knew where he was and there were rumours of him firing half his company.
It was awful: the film/tv rights were tied up but there was no money and no communication at all from the producer. I’d turned down two other offers once the deal was—as I thought—done. But then…nothing. And more nothing. My agents talked about suing him. I didn’t want that—but I did want out of the limbo I was in. It took months to sort out, but now it’s officially over, and (a) I can talk about it, (b) we’ll be trying again soon, probably when the paperback’s been out a couple of weeks.
I think, all in all, I’d like either a sequence of high-production-value films with the addition of lots of CGI and motion-capture stuff (I can’t think how else to give continuity to the actor playing Hild—she goes from age 3 to 66 over the course of the books; I don’t think anyone’s ever done that). But I could also see it as a premium cable series.
But this setting and story will be a challenge to realise on screen. Oh, not the world per se (HBO and Game of Thrones have shown that amazing world-building is possible, set- and art-production-wise) but the sheer pace and breadth of cultural change inherent in the story. It would require absolutely top-notch writing, and acting, and directing, all produced by someone who is utterly committed to the whole arc. (I’d hate to see done to Hild what happened to Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels.) And it wouldn’t be cheap. So: a lot of barriers. But, yes, one day I think we’ll see it on screen.
9 thoughts on “Hild on the big screen?”
myseyeball said, before the comment vanished into the ether:
I would think that a cable series would be the only format with enough room to get it all in. Even in that format I would worry that the pastoral nature of the book, (which I loved, by the way — don't know if I've had a chance to tell you that,) the moment-to-moment taste of life that you give us would be lost. Even the best premium cable series these days are relentless in their pacing. With all the money of a big production on the line, would anyone have the guts to let Hild breathe when necessary? –Brooks
I think to get the book on screen, yes, we'd need a series. But I'm not yet convinced you could actually get the book–those nature-as-reflections-of-interior moments–on screen. I'm not sure we can't but not sure we can. Thoughts?
When I read Kelley's Solitaire, I thought, Oh, how I'd love to see this as a film! When I read Hild, I said to myself, Oh! I hope this is not going to be made into a film. I agree with myeyesball; a film adaptation couldn't portray the slow, rests (like in music) and contemplations. Film these days just doesn't seem to be interested in slow.
Thoughts? I have too many.
One of the things that interests me about your novels, Nicola, is the way in which a form of technology will become a metaphor that not only informs the way your protagonists move through life, but also the structure of the novel. In SLOW RIVER, that technology was sewage treatment, of all things. In HILD the technology is the making textiles. Not only does it become a metaphor for the way that Hild and her associates see life, but the book itself seems to be woven — a very tight and intricate weave.
In that context the more sensational aspects of the book, the sex and violence and whatnot, are like silver, gold and crimson threads, thrilling and beautiful in their ornamentation, but inadequate in describing the core experience of reading a book woven from the change of seasons and the changing of life in a time so far away from ours.
To adapt HILD into a TV series the whole beautiful tapestry would have to be unwoven and then re-weaved as a series of smaller cloths, all somewhat different in appearance and touch, yet congruent enough to be stitched back together in an approximation of the original. The ideal way do do that would be to conceptualize HILD as a series of short films, all a little different in effect. The big battle that gives Hild her butcher bird reputation. That's one film. The later chapter in which most of the men have gone off to some battle and Hild notices how more relaxed things seem in their absence. That's another movie, totally different style-wise but just as important.
Only a very powerful producer could pull something like this off. Not only because she or he would have to somehow keep the whole thing unified, but also because he or she would have to be confident enough give the writers and directors just enough slack to make something unique.
One other thing. All the actresses would have to got to 7th century textile boot camp. Gotta build and staff one of those…
Do all that and stitch the pieces back together and you'd have Hild as a quilt instead of a tapestry. Not as elegant, but it would get the job done. Unfortunately getting someone to bankroll a project like that would be only slightly easier than funding Jodorowsky's DUNE.
Or you could just make a big budget film starring Jennifer Lawrence as Hild, George Clooney as Edward, and Johnny Depp as The Beaver.
Ro, see below for Brooks' v. interesting thoughts on Hild.
As for Solitaire, well, stay tuned…
I was nodding with everything you said and burst out laughing at the end; so thanks for that.
My thoughts on the matter are long, too, so I think I'll pull this convo out and make it it's own blog post…
Wow, sounds like those negotiations would have been an equally exciting and scary experience. I would love to see Hild on the screen, but then I'm a huge fan of box sets and series. Maybe it's just because it's my current watch, but Vikings (History Channel) comes to mind as a possible interpretation. Not so much the blood and gore, but the focus on characters within a compelling historical setting. It seems almost inevitable that a screen interpretation would be different in feel to a novel, but so long as it maintains the soul of the book.
I can certainly imagine Saorsie Ronan in a Hanna style role as Hild.
But that's just it: what is the soul of the book? And is it possible to film it?
Hmm…yes it is possible, with the right people involved. But the medium will give a different feel, so a beautiful piece of video content can be interpreted into a beautiful poster (i work in communications) but the 'story' that each piece tells and how we interact with the two different formats will depend on our expectations of that medium. As for the soul…I'm about a third in so still determining that :) (and loving it!)
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