The Screen's the Limit

Cloud Atlas and the lure of unfilmable books

Illustration by Joe Magee for TIME

Whenever I hear about directors preparing to take on so-called unfilmable books, I find myself filled with anxiety. When I heard that Lana and Andy Wachowski, the siblings behind the Matrix movies, were attempting to adapt David Mitchell's labyrinthine novel Cloud Atlas, I wanted to call them up and beg them to put the book down and back away slowly. Don't do it. Why not make Richard Price's Lush Life instead? Great novel, eminently filmable, never been filmed. Nor has Donna Tartt's The Secret History. Or Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. There's plenty of low-hanging fruit out there.

Also, while I've got...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!