If you couldn't get enough of Eleanor Catton's Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries— which is surprisingly easy to do considering it's more than 800 pages — then there's good in store for you: the novel is going to be made into a BBC miniseries to be filmed in New Zealand. There's no word yet on when it might be ready, but it's still something to be excited about.
Catton agreed to let the BBC adapt the book for television last August, before even winning the Man Booker Prize, and is so far sticking with her decision to let someone else write the screenplay. She was, however, very insistent that the series be filmed in New Zealand. "Some things I wouldn't compromise on," she told The Star-Sunday Times. "It wouldn't make sense to be filmed anywhere else." Especially not since the Lord of the Rings movies proved that New Zealand is an awesome place to film anything.
Catton also seems excited to work with BBC producer Andrew Woodward, who has previously worked on the BBC shows Law and Order (UK), Sinbad, and Spooks. The two have met, and Catton reports that "it seemed like his heart was in the right place."
Overall, it will be interesting to see how the filmmakers treat the book, which experiments greatly with form and structure. The book consists of 12 sections, each one roughly half as long as the one before it. This technique is responsible for no small amount of the book's power, but it would be hard to reproduce such a thing in a miniseries, where each episode would have to be a standard length because of TV schedules. Plus who is going to tune into episode 12 if it's only five minutes long?
There are other issues that the creative team will have to tackle — how to handle the many flashbacks within each section? Will the television show also jump backwards in time halfway through? How will the many character details Catton reveals in the narration — details upon which many plot points hinge — be introduced? Plus, making the book into a television show instead of a movie gives filmmakers more time to let the story unfold, but it's still an 834-page book.
Still, Catton seems interested in letting the miniseries experiment. "I would be very open to changing a lot of the story," she says, "because what gives you a thrill on the page does not necessarily give you the same feeling on screen."
Right now, the project is still in the earliest of early stages (it doesn't even have a screenwriter yet), but we'll be eagerly awaiting its release. After all, not only was the book amazing, but it will be interesting to see how its many innovations are translated off the page. In other words, The Luminaries can't come to our TV screens soon enough.