Netflix will make a series with David Cronenberg’s first novel and these are the chances that it will be a great adaptation.

There are a couple of things that can be said for sure about David Cronenberg. First of the news that you have started working on a project is not even a remote guarantee that you will be on it for a long time. ‘The return of the Jedi’ or ‘Total challenge’ are just two examples of famous films that began to develop with the Canadian at the helm. This time things change, of course, because the director himself is at the very origin of the project: it is the adaptation of his first and to date only novel, ‘Consumidos’, published in 2014 and translated into Spanish by Anagrama.

The second thing that we can say with total guarantee is that it does not matter if the novel, as we will see, is an authentic maze, maladaptive. In addition to the fact that he himself will be very clear about how to simplify it and what elements he cannot afford to do without, Cronenberg has earned a well-deserved fame as an expert on impossible adaptations: Burroughs’s ‘Naked Lunch’ or JG Ballard’s ‘Crash’ are some of the seemingly unassailable novels that the Canadian has translated into audiovisuals.

The announcement was made during his visit to the Festival du Nouveau Cinema in Montreal, where he talked about a series for Netflix based on his book. The announcement came as a relative surprise, as in an interview with Entertainment Weekly just over a year ago he literally said that “I was done with the movies”, and that from now on I would only write novels, since he believed that “there are things you can do in a novel that you cannot do in a movie”.

Netflix will make a series with David Cronenberg’s first novel and these are the chances that it will be a great adaptation

However, everything is relative. In that same interview he spoke about the possibilities of serial narrative, streaming and Netflix, and that precisely the idea of ​​an eight-hour narrative divided into chapters seemed more novelistic than a regular movie. As he told in another interview, shortly after saying that he did not see himself making more cinema, he proposed an idea to Netflix for a series in collaboration with his regular producer, Robert Lantos, which ended up frustrating (what we said above).

But at the same time two more projects were given the green light: a series based on an old script and another based on ‘Consumidos’. The latter had been in development for a while at AMC, but ended up being abandoned and taken over by himself to become his main project with Netflix. In that same interview he defined his interest in the medium: “You can get into complex and intricate things. You can let the story breathe and the audience is willing to let you do it, where they didn’t have so much patience before.. I think we’ve only scratched the surface by experimenting with it. “

Netflix will make a series with David Cronenberg’s first novel and these are the chances that it will be a great adaptation

‘Consumed’: The new meat is also read

The book tells the story of two journalists, Naomi and Nathan, who discover a hidden global conspiracy after the death of a French philosopher in his sixties. But things are not so simple: They are two journalists completely immersed in the world of social networks and obsessed with constantly recording everything with cameras of all kinds (some conversations about the truth of the digital image are more pertinent even now than when the book was published). They live stocks of nomads in search of sensational depravity and are found only in airport hotels. And on the internet, of course.

Together they try to solve the mystery surrounding the pansexual libertine and Marxist philosopher couple Célestine and Aristide ArosteguyThe first was murdered and mutilated, the second disappeared and suspected of having killed and consumed parts of his partner. To locate Aristide, Naomi enlists the help of a student, Hervé Blomqvist, but soon discovers that she cannot trust him either.

Netflix will make a series with David Cronenberg’s first novel and these are the chances that it will be a great adaptation

And there is yet another mysterious person: Zoltán Molnár, a surgeon who works without a license and whom Nathan meets in Budapest. It will be in his rarefied environment where the journalist contracts a sexually transmitted disease, Roiphe syndrome. To seek a cure, Nathan will try to meet the doctor who discovered the disease, and who experiments with his own daughter.

All this is just the beginning of a series of parallel plots that will include endless descriptions of cities as living organisms but in the process of decomposition, visits to the Cannes festival, unsuspected uses of 3D printers and a lot of sex. Too much for Netflix’s taste? It is true that the chain is making increasingly daring proposals to its viewers, both in formats (such as experimentation with interactivity) and in content, especially in areas close to animation and the fantasy genre.

Netflix will make a series with David Cronenberg’s first novel and these are the chances that it will be a great adaptation

In any case, Cronenberg is ideal to help Netflix forge that image that the platform is interested in cultivating if it wants to find an identity outside of the Disney + roller. For example, in the aforementioned ‘Crash’ or ‘Naked Lunch’, he adapted what can easily be defined as streams of thought (and not too coherent streams, moreover) and scenarios and characters practically sketched, almost undefined. Y In his own films like ‘Chromosome 3’, ‘They came from within …’ or ‘Videodrome’ he turned the lower drives and impulses into physical degeneration that the human being can generate.

But it is also that, adapting ‘Consumidos’ Cronenberg plays at home: sexually transmitted diseases, intimate relationships as a distorted mirror of our miseries, intergenerational abuse, the gaze (in front of or behind a camera lens) as a lethal weapon, the feelings that serve as an excuse for the biggest doggies, the slow and monstrous vigilante time … everything that has made up the bulk of his work, in films as different from each other as ‘Rabia’ or ‘Inseparables’, is disseminated in this novel. A novel that by theme could belong to the first part of his filmography, when budgets were limited and conceptual fury overflowed every image.

Of course, the book has extremely literary or unadaptable parts, such as when journalists engage in genuine tech conversations about the very latest features of their advanced cameras, or a final section where the real theme of the novel, consumption (as a social phenomenon and as … well, how to consume each other) unfolds in talks of magnetic abstraction. But he also solved those kinds of problems phenomenally well in the very strange ‘Cosmopolis’, one of his most underrated films that was based on a novel by another famous inadaptable, Don DeLillo.

Netflix will make a series with David Cronenberg’s first novel and these are the chances that it will be a great adaptation

In fact, to verify that the filmmaker Cronenberg -the one who will make the series- and the novelist Cronenberg -the one who has written ‘Consumidos’- are intimately united, you just have to check the trailer for the book that he himself shot and uploaded to YouTube , and it works almost like an experimental short. From Dr. Molnár’s point of view, we see one of his patients talking about an ailment that appears in the novel: her breasts are full of insects that are only appreciated with state-of-the-art devices.

The uncomfortable way in which the trailer is shot and the cold and clinical dialogue, at times incomprehensible, brings back the very young Cronenberg who Before filming his first movie, he shot two sensational medium-length films: ‘Stereo’ (1969) and ‘Crimes of the Future’ (1970), set in experimental clinics and research institutes impossible. Abstract and dry, about superpowers and ultra-diseases, almost without dialogue and interpreted as if the actors were reading the leaflet of a painkiller, they connect perfectly with this trailer and with the novel that inspires it.

That is ‘Consumed’ perfectly closes Cronenberg’s author cycle, much better than the somewhat impersonal ‘Map of the stars’ five years ago and that many of us already gave as the Canadian’s last film. The series for Netflix, if it respects the style and rhythm of the trailer and the novel, could start with a stage much more coherent with the rest of the work of the director of ‘Scanners’. And let us see it.

Netflix will make a series with David Cronenberg’s first novel and these are the chances that it will be a great adaptation