The news broke very recently that "Splice" director Vincenzo Natali is all set to direct an adaptation of William Gibson's highly influential sci-fi novel "Neuromancer." MTV's Brian Jacks spoke to him earlier this week and learned that while the process is close to a done deal, Natali isn't fully set yet. What's clear is that he is a fan and, if anyone can do the story justice, it's him.
"'Neuromancer'-- it's at such an early stage that I'm not 100% attached to it," Natali revealed. "I think it's probably the most influential science fiction novel of the past 25 years. Various people have attempted to do it in the past and it hasn't worked out, I think in part because the book was so in advance of its time."
"Neuromancer" was one of the early works to introduce cyberpunk culture to the world. Published in 1984, the novel predates the existence of the Internet as a widely used resource even though it deals very directly with the idea of a globally networked community and the particulars of navigating through cyberspace. The world presented in the story definitely exists in its own universe, but many of the ideas put forth are forward-thinking to the point that they're only in the past few years becoming truly relevant to us all.
"I feel like right now is the perfect time to make the movie because some of the ideas and notions of traveling through cyberspace and so on are part of the popular consciousness," Natali explained. "So now you can get into the really interesting parts of the story which are related to how we're going to evolve, how machine technologies are going to evolve in tandem with us."
For now however, all of Natali's thoughts on the project remain at the idea stage. "It's really early. I haven't started working on the script," he said. "There's been good work that's already been done by other people that I think I can build on, and I think I can move through it quite quickly. I'm very excited about it."
The most encouraging thing to hear is that Natali is a huge fan of Gibson's work. The filmmaker sees a lot of opportunity in adapting "Neuromancer," even if he doesn't get to do it himself. The only worry for now is translating what amounts to an incredibly complex book to a story that can be related to film audiences in the space of two hours or so.
"I think that's part of the problem in adapting the script," he said, adding, "I think a lot of people got lost in the details. At the end of the day, it's not a terribly complicated story. It's a little bit like a Raymond Chandler book; it's a little bit of a noir film, a little bit of a caper movie and I think the key is just to stay with the main character. With 'Neuromancer' I have a very clear idea of what it should be, and I'm not very intimidated by it."
Natali is also very much aware of the blockbuster-driven trend in the most popular sci-fi releases out there. While efforts like "Moon" are exploring complex ideas, the biggest-ticket releases are more in the vein of "Avatar": high-concept blockbuster films which can be summed up in the space of a single sentence.
"As somebody who watches a lot of these kinds of films, I'm getting tired of the old formulas," Natali said. "I don't mind a little bit of complexity to go along with my science fiction. I think that ['Neuromancer'] could take a kind of novelistic approach. I don't think it has to have an entirely traditional kind of film structure. I think it can be a little bit more like the book. I think it can make digressions and so on. And the amazing thing about William Gibson's world is it's so well-developed. It really is a universe that you can enter into. There are all kinds of avenues you can follow based on the book."