We all know the movies that are made from Philip K Dick stories. Minority Report, Total Recall, and Blade Runner spring must easily to mind. What surprises me, though, is that Bradbury hasn’t really had that level of success at the theatrical level with his own short stories despite being nearly as prolific as Dick.
As far as I know, only two of his short stories have ever been made into movies, and both are nowhere near the caliber of the ones I will suggest below. Yes. I know. It’s heresy that I don’t like The Illustrated Man (one of his most famous short stories that was turned into a rather horrid movie in 1969), but I find it hard to get into a story about clairvoyant tattoos.
Really, I like the stuff that deals less with prescient body art and ice-cream colored suits that make men luckier (“The Magic White Suit”), and more interested in Mars and time travel.
Of course, that being said, I do love that Edward James Olmos is in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit. That alone satisfies the sci-fi nerd in me enough, seeing as he was one of the best parts of Battlestar Galactica, which is to say all the parts of Battlestar Galactica.
In any case, here are the Bradbury short stories that I think absolutely should be made into movies:
- 1. The Fox and the Forest
A couple take a vacation to the past, and decide to stay there in order to avoid the destructive war that is going in their own timeline. This naturally is considered to be desertion, and they are forced to go on the run through a time period they don’t actually understand. While doing this, they are being chased by Time Agents who wish to return to them to their place in history. However, avoiding their time’s agents does not mean that they escaped the agents of a completely different time.
What you can do with this:
Essentially, this is an easy chase flick which means it could be amazing, or it could be horrible (see Total Recall remake). But I want it. Oh how I want it.
I love the idea of them trying to fit into a time they don’t really understand, whilst trying to escape enemies from time periods they can’t even fathom. The short story doesn’t really give the complexity of this plot justice, and I would love to see it as a movie, complete with all knowing bad guys and twists and turns that
- 2. And the Rock Cried Out
Two American tourists are trapped in an unspecified South American or Middle American country after the whole of the “white world” goes radio silent. The rest of the world assumes Europe and North America have somehow destroyed themselves.
In terms of isolation during a catastrophic event, it’s a bit like Jericho, though I would hope that it would be a bit more interesting.
What you can do with it:
We know that movies of this sort can do well. Just look at the success of Children of Men. In that vein, we’ll have to see if the Y: The Last Man movie ever gets made, and fulfills all my expectations.
In any case, the plot in the short story doesn’t really scream movie, but the premise has a lot of potential. After all, the short story follows how the white tourists reap what they sew from throwing their weight around too much in countries that aren’t they’re own for about ten pages, and that’s not all that interesting unless you’re me and love commentary on Imperialism. But the premise… the premise has so many excellent possibilities.
Just take the idea that all of Europe and North America has gone radio silent and no one knows why. You could follow different groups of people from those places around the world, and observe how they survive in a world where their cultural hegemony no longer protects them. You could take it one step further and have them journeying home to find out what happened, while they argue between themselves and others about actually occurred. Did the Occidental world kill themselves? Did they ascend? Was it the rapture? Did they destroy one another?
Frankly, I love the idea of people stuck in a hostile world looking for home but not knowing if it’s even still there.
- 3. Hail and Farewell
A boy who is unable to age travels the country finding “new parents” and living with them until people begin to notice he doesn’t age. When this happens, he moves on to find a new family. No one knows how long he has been doing this.
What you can do with it:
The first thing that comes to mind in terms of a movie is, of course, that a secret governmental agency has been searching for the boy for ages in order to unlock his secrets of youth. But really, that seems a little cliche, so I think the movie would do better as a dramatic movie focusing on what sort of emotional changes a person with this problem would have.
Would he fall in love? Would he take care of the orphan kids and watch them grow older than him? As the world changes, does it become harder and harder for him to adapt? Perhaps with more stringent ID laws, he realizes he has to make a choice. Has he lived long enough? Knowing the lifespan of ordinary humans, and that he doesn’t fit in, is it up to him, then, to choose his own death? When? and why?
The question this simple premise bring up are amazing, and could be addressed beautifully in film. After all, look at how interesting Benjamin Button was.
That being said, though, someone did sort of try to do what I suggested above and it resulted in bad-eighties-tasticness.
- 4. The Night Meeting
A man who has retired to Mars finds himself meeting a Martian from the a different time period via some sort of rift in space and time. There, they try to figure out who is the past, and who is the future.
What you can do with this:
Who doesn’t love the idea of never really knowing what reality is? There are reasons why movies like Inception and KPAX are amazing (unpopular opinion, I know).
But imagine two characters trying to affect their future, thinking that the others may be the past. Over the course of their lives, these two characters meet and find out more and more about what could be their future, though they are never sure.
It would be that sort of movie you’d watch a million times, and catch new bits of information, all the while trying to figure out an answer you know you’ll never understand. And those sorts of movies are my favorite.