After years of false starts it appears as though Marc Forster’s big screen adaptation of Max Brooks’ zombie faux-ethnography World War Z is headed to screens in 2012. The book, which details the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse from the perspective of survivors as varied as mercenaries, US government officials, and impoverished Palestinians, was the subject of a heavy bidding war before landing at Brad Pitt’s company Plan B. Now, Pitt has reportedly signed to star as well as produce, according to an MTV interview with Brooks on the floor at Comic-Con. Hit the jump for more details.
Brooks, the son of famed comedy auteur Mel, has made a career out of dissecting the real-world implications of the dead rising. His first novel, The Zombie Survival Guide, which has also been optioned by Paramount along with its’ graphic novel counterpart The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks dealt with helpful hints on what to do in case Hell runs out of room and the dead begin to walk the earth.
The Pitt film is based on a far more complex narrative than its predecessor. World War Z is not a novel in the traditional sense, rather it is an assembly of interviews detailing small moments during the zombie outbreak and how different people from different cultural backgrounds managed to survive. The scope of the work is fairly massive with no shortage of blockbuster worthy action set-pieces (my favorite being the tale of an Indian from a lower caste trying desperately to reach a freighter ship only to discover that it too has been overrun by ghouls), ut the real strength of the work is the subtle (well, subtle for a zombie story) nuance of the ways in which different cultures reacted to, or failed to react to, the outbreak.
There is significant and legitimate social commentary to be found in Brooks’ work and thanks to his gift for dialect, each of the dozens of speakers carries his or her own distinctive voice. The audiobook makes great use of this, employing an all-star cast who treat the chapters as long form monologues.
Still, I do not quite understand how this will be a movie, or how Pitt will star. There is no “story” per se and certainly no main character but Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski and Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom) have apparently solved this problem. No doubt, details will emerge in the near future.