Page-to-screen: 'Spiderhead' movie fails to portray George Saunders' classic story
George Saunders’ “Escape From Spiderhead” is the stuff of nightmares, or at least of mine: torture, mind control,
lifelong regret. Published in the New Yorker in 2010 and collected in Saunders’ “Tenth of December” in 2013,
the short story puts me in mind of art-house films by miserabilists like Gaspar Noé and Lars von Trier.
But in greenlighting the adaptation, Hollywood had other ideas.
Which is reasonable enough:
Many of Saunders’ stories have unexploited potential for Hollywood studio films. Bard of conflicted white guys and
dispenser of folksy wisdom, Saunders has made a career of old-fashioned morality tales green-screened
with photogenically fantastical inventions. His stories are full of Everymen-turned-moral heroes — or moral failures, no less instructive.
They’re lessons on how to do what’s right, of the kind John Gardner famously demanded from fiction. “Escape From Spiderhead” fits that mold