Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
100 Greatest Characters
Your all-time favourite heroes and villains
Subscribe To Empire
Sign up now and save up to 63%
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
28 August 2015
Podcast 176: Ed Skrein
Podcast refuelled!
Exclusive Trailer For Listen To Me Marlon
Brando in his own words
New Poster For The Hallow Online
Plus director Corin Hardy shows us his sketchbook
Vincent D'Onofrio to Direct The Kid
Moving behind the camera with a Western
Joe Carnahan Finally Shoots Five Against A Bullet
Long-gestating project gets green light
Sofia Vergara Joins The Brits Are Coming
Starring with Uma Thurman and Tim Roth
Sam Worthington Clashes With The Titan
Ruth Wilson to co-star
More Movie News

RELATED NEWS
22 October 2009
Iain M Banks' Culture To Be Filmed?
That's the plan anyway...
More Movie News

RELATED REVIEWS
White Lightnin (2009)
Empire Star Rating
More new cinemas releases
DVD & Blu-ray releases

Exclusive: Iain M Banks Talks Culture
His inner nerd is concerned.

02 November 2009  |  Written by Owen Williams  

submit to reddit

Exclusive: Iain M Banks Talks Culture

The news broke a week or so ago that Iain M Banks’ socialist anarchist imperialist utopia The Culture was in the early stages of a journey to the screen, with White Lightnin's Dominic Murphy working on an adaptation of the short story A Gift From the Culture. Not ones to pass up an opportunity, we collared Banks at a signing session for his new novel Transition (making sure to bag a copy for ourselves) to get the lowdown, at least from the author’s point of view.

“I have mixed feelings about it, as I knew I always would,” says Banks, “although I could, of course, have said no! The longer it is before the novels get filmed, the longer they stay entirely mine. One thing I particularly worry about in the Culture stories is how the spaceships might look. The Culture ships are quite boring, and obviously if you say ‘design a spaceship’ to a designer, they don’t want to do boring. They don’t want to do a shoebox with the edges smoothed off. But happily that doesn’t apply in this case because there’s only one ship that appears at the end of the story and it isn’t a Culture ship anyway. That’s such a nerdy thing to worry about, isn’t it? But nevertheless, I am. My inner nerd is concerned.”

Banks’ inner nerd is less concerned about Dominic Murphy though: “He seems like a thoroughly decent chap, and more to the point, I was deeply, deeply impressed by White Lightnin’. It’s the work of a properly mature director. You really wouldn’t guess it’s his first major film. I liked the way he handled a really bizarre subject and some very disturbed characters, without downplaying the results of their behaviour: he just lets them speak for themselves in a very matter-of-fact kind of way, without editorializing.”

But why opt, out of all the stories, for A Gift From the Culture, we wonder? The State of the Art might have been a more obvious choice, for example, since it takes place on Earth (nice way to keep the budget relatively low) and sets up the character of Diziet Sma, who reappears in the third Culture novel Use of Weapons.

“Oho!” says Banks, in response to the latter point, and waggles his eyebrows. “I think, as ever, it’s as much about what it sparked in Dominic and the direction he thinks he can take it. I think he wants to do a lot to it, rather than just literally filming what’s there, which again is the danger you run when when you’re a writer and you let your stories go like that.”

So what’s with the eyebrow thing? Are we looking at a potential series here? “I think it’s obviously in the back of everyone’s mind, but a lot depends on what happens with this one. My agent certainly loves the idea that it’s the start of something big. We’ll see. It’s less of a commitment to make a short story that takes place on a planet that’s not that different from Earth. When people start talking about filming one of the full-scale novels, you’re talking serious CGI, tens of millions of dollars of budget… I suspect if I was a bigger name in the States it might have happened by now, but the vast majority of people in Hollywood have never heard of me.”

That said, this isn’t The Culture’s first brush with our Earth cinema, as Banks reveals that the second novel The Player of Games was once on the agenda at Pathe. “About ten years ago a chap from Pathe persuaded them to buy the rights – not just the option but the rights,” he says. “It got some way along and had some serious money spent on it, even by Hollywood standards, and there were various names attached. But eventually the guy whose baby it was left, and it was then cancelled by the incoming team, for the usual reasons: if it had been a success it would’ve been his success, and if it’d been a failure it would’ve been their failure. That was the closest we’ve come before, to a proper nibble.  It wasn’t even a nibble, it was a real bite, but we couldn’t reel it in! Hah! Couldn’t land the blighter!”

Banks concludes the interview by reiterating something he’s said before: that of all his books and stories, the one he’d most like to see filmed is Consider Phlebas, the Culture’s full-length debut. “They could have it that nobody dies at the end and they all go off and be happy together. They could cast Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis as [non-Culture shapeshifter] Horza… I wouldn’t mind as long as they just did it.”  

Banks is practically jumping up and down as he says “I want to see the big action sequences! I want to see the gigantic ship hitting the even more gigantic iceberg! I want to see the fight underneath the hovercraft, which I’ve always imagined being lit by strobes! I want to see the big trainwreck stuff at the end and the firefights!”

Even with beautifully designed, complicated spaceships? “Oof, non-standard Culture ships…” He muses and tuts. “Yes! Even with that. I could grit my teeth.”


Have Your Say
To comment on this, and all articles, register for free or login now.

Joe Wright Is Not Directing My Fair Lady
Atonement director denies all knowledge
Todd Field Accepts The Creed Of Violence
Update: He's got the funds to make it

Your Comments

Contact...
...I wanted them to film The Player of Games with Kevin Spacey in the lead role (Jernau Morat Gurgeh )...maybe now perhaps Viggo Mortensen...and Alan Rickman as the voice of Mawhrin-Skel would be great imo... More

Posted by IMac at 00:21 on 04 November 2009 | Report This Post

My inner nerd is very excited!
Fingers crossed..... More

Posted by BAscule at 12:33 on 03 November 2009 | Report This Post

Dominic Murphy looks to be a fantastic director (ok i aint seen White Lightnin' yet but it looks fantastic) and i'm glad that someone with a bit of imagination and real talent is getting a go with the Culture. i agree with Banks though - I would love to see Consider Phlebas on the big screen - though i disagree about all the concessions! I'd aldo love to see the Algebraist - though considering how much money would be needed for that - when really its not much of a big budget movie in plot term More

Posted by richCie at 10:36 on 02 November 2009 | Report This Post

Banks' Bonus - but in a good way...
As a long time reader fo the culture novels, I'm delighted to hear about this film - inner nerd worries and all. It's coming from fantastic source material. It's a new story for a film, not a remake. It has British ancestry. It's hard core nuts and bolts science fiction. Bring it on!! More

Posted by The Voice of Fate at 08:02 on 02 November 2009 | Report This Post


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
My Movie Life: Andrew Haigh
The 45 Years director on the movies that made him

Vanity Projects: The Musical Edition
A dozen more hits and misses from the rock and pop world

Inside The Martian: Empire Meets NASA
Prepare to science the shit out of it...

Deadpool: A Complete History
Empire's guide to The Merc With A Mouth, in comics and on screen

Evil Media: Haunted TVs, Tapes And Tunes
Ten sinister reasons to go off-grid

Spectre – Everything You Need To Know
Empire's essential briefing on James Bond's 24th outing

The N.W.A-Team
Empire visits the set of Straight Outta Compton

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)