Terry Gilliam Has (Mr) Vertigo

Adapting Paul Auster's novel

Timbuktu and In The Country of Lost Things are stuck in Development Hell, but author Paul Auster may soon have something to celebrate adaptation-wise. Terry Gilliam has just revealed that he's working on a screenplay of Auster's 1994 novel Mr Vertigo.

Speaking at a film festival in Poland, Gilliam revealed that work on the book is underway. This being Gilliam, however, the announcement came with the cheerful caveat that we won't necessarily ever see a complete film: "I got a book. It's called Mr Vertigo by Paul Auster. Doesn't mean it will be a film, but I'm working on a script."

The novel is stylistically slightly removed from the rest of Auster's work, in that it reads like a sort of magic-realist fable, which obviously kicks it right into Gilliam's field. It's the story of Walt the Wonder Boy, looking back late in life at his youthful fame performing "anti gravitational feats" (he can levitate) in a travelling show run by the mysterious Master Yehudi. Fame and fortune await, but there are also Depression-era dark times ahead, courtesy of the Mob, the Klan, and Uncle Slim...

Despite his being brilliant, the general oddness of Auster's work means we don't see him adapted much (although Philip Haas' The Music of Chance is really good), and his most famous screen work is still the diptych of Smoke and Blue in the Face, which he co-created with Wayne Wang.

It's all been rather quiet on Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote for the last year or so, so fingers crossed Mr Vertigo will be the project that finally gets him back behind a camera. The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus was already too long ago.