Marfa Dialogues

Book and a Movie: “Never Let Me Go”

7 August & 9 August 2012


The intertextual politics that arise when a film is sourced from a novel or short story have been a part of the multimedia cultural conversation since the dawn of cinema. A cursory search of Wikipedia reveals over 3,000 examples of films based on novels — filmic adaptations of short stories, graphic novels and plays not included.

Book to film adaptations range from Erich von Stroheim’s Greed (1924), a legendary attempt to create a 16-hour real-time silent film adaptation of Frank Norris’ McTeague; to more free-form reinventions such as Ridley Scott’s transformation of Philip K. Dick’s classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? into the iconic Blade Runner; or consider the meta-adaptation of Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief as director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation. The inter-disciplinary discussion is seeded for future generations as film versions of young adult novels – e.g. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy – continue to dominate the box office, simultaneously enraging young superfans with their omissions, and opening the world of literature to new readers.

Book and a Movie is a collaboration between Ballroom Marfa and the Marfa Public Library, a reading program wherein the Marfa community is invited to take part in a discussion of competing versions of a narrative, and to explore the ideas raised as novels are realized as visual entertainment.

The program will be presented quarterly throughout the year in summer, fall, winter, and spring. The first installment in this ongoing series will look at Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 novel, Never Let Me Go, and its subsequent 2010 adaptation by director Mark Romanek.

Never Let Me Go is a dystopian novel by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize (an award Ishiguro had previously won in 1989 for The Remains of the Day), and the Arthur C. Clarke award for best science-fiction novel. The main characters Ruth, Kathy and Tommy spend their childhood at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. The children there are tenderly sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe they are special, and that their personal welfare was crucial. But for what reason are they really there? It is only years later that Kathy, now aged 31, finally allows herself to yield to the pull of memory. What unfolds is the haunting story of how Kathy, Ruth and Tommy slowly come to face the truth about their seemingly happy childhoods – and their futures.

The 2010 film version was directed by Mark Romanek, previously known for his 2002 film One Hour Photo, as well as videos for Fiona Apple, Jay-Z, Johnny Cash and Michael and Janet Jackson. Never Let Me Go was generally well received by critics, and considered to be a faithful adaptation of the tone and content of Ishiguro’s uniquely moving novel, both versions charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of our lives.

The maximum number of participants is limited and only 2 more slots are available, so sign up today! To register for Book and a Movie and receive a free copy of Never Let Me Go, please sign up by Friday, July 13, 2012 by visiting the library, calling 432.729.4631 or emailing bookandamovie@ballroommarfa.org. Copies of Never Let Me Go will be available for pick up at the Marfa Public Library or Ballroom Marfa beginning on Friday, July 20, 2012.

The first discussion will be held on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 6:30PM at Marfa Public Library. The film screening and discussion will be held on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 6:30PM at the Marfa Public Library’s state-of-the-art Blu-ray screening facility. Panelists Elizabeth Redding, Dirk Vaughn and Library Director Renee Mick will lead both sessions. Light refreshments will be served, and a delicious homemade carrot cake will be awarded as a door prize both generously donated by Austin Street Café.

Future discussions in the ongoing Book and a Movie program will include Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

    Support for the Book and a Movie program provided by PEARL and Friends of the Marfa Public Library. Special thanks to Jack and Lisa Copeland of Austin Street Café, Cory Lovell, Melissa McDonnell, Elizabeth Redding, Dirk Vaughn, Tim Johnson of Marfa Book Company, Marfa Public Radio and The Big Bend Sentinel.