Friday, July 04, 2014

Four top dystopian novels that made it to the big screen

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Allegra Frazier tagged four great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, including:
What Medical Ethics?

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Film adaptation: Never Let Me Go)

Ishiguro’s novel asks a question similar to that in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: at what point is a piece of technology human enough to require the ethical treatment that is (ideally) offered to humans? The technology in question here is cloning: complete human clones have been developed for organ harvesting. The dystopian elements of this society are hidden beneath a seeming utopia for the human population, since illness has become a thing of the past. But for the clones, who are still very much human, it is a dystopic nightmare in which they are, essentially, medical livestock.

Never Let Me Go is told from the point of view of Cathy H., a clone who reminisces about her school days, young adult life, and complex interpersonal relationships as her donation date nears. Cathy’s tone is eerily calm and rife with euphemism (“completion” is the chilling word used for the death of a clone who has finally donated too much or too vital an organ to survive). She is also heartbreakingly obedient: even though humans do not consider the clones human, they do take the precaution of training them to be true to their horrible tasks in special institutions that seem, for all intents and purposes, like boarding schools.

Mark Romanek’s film adaptation is very true to this tone. Muted colors, idyllic country landscapes, and quiet hospital corridors lead viewers to horrifying images (Kiera Knightley’s final scene is particularly jarring), and Alex Garland’s script preserves the book’s most important scenes. Both the film and the book are a somber reminder that one man’s utopia will almost always be another man’s (or clone’s) dystopia.
Read about another entry on the list.

Never Let Me Go is on James Browning's top ten list of boarding school books, Jason Allen Ashlock and Mink Choi's top ten list of tragic love stories, Allegra Frazier's list of seven characters whose jobs are worse than yours, Shani Boianjiu's list of five top novels about coming of age, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five top "What If?" books, Lloyd Shepherd's top ten list of weird histories, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best men writing as women in literature and ten of the best sentences as titles.

--Marshal Zeringue