Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

'Good Morning, Midnight': What do we know about George Clooney's Netflix sci-fi adaptation?

Actor will direct and star in movie version of the 2016 novel

American actor and director George Clooney is set to direct his first science-fiction film. AFP
American actor and director George Clooney is set to direct his first science-fiction film. AFP

George Clooney is the latest big name to crash the ever-expanding Netflix party. The ER-actor-turned-Hollywood-megastar has signed up to direct and star in a Netflix movie adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s 2016 sci-fi novel Good Morning, Midnight, with Revenant author Mark L Smith on screenplay duties, and Clooney’s regular production partner Grant Heslov overseeing things.

Details on the project are still fairly sparse, but here’s what we know so far.

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. Courtesy Penguin Random House
'Good Morning, Midnight' by Lily Brooks-Dalton. Courtesy Penguin Random House

What’s it about?

Netflix's own announcement tells us that the “post-apocalyptic tale follows the parallel stories of Augustine (Clooney), a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to make contact with the crew of the Aether spacecraft as they try to return home to Earth. Brooks-Dalton’s novel was met with critical acclaim and was named one of the best books of the year by Shelf Awareness and the Chicago Review of Books. The film will begin production in October.”

That doesn’t give too much away, but we can look to the synopsis of Brooks-Dalton’s original novel for a bit more information.

Here, we learn that “Augustine, a brilliant, ageing astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts, studying the sky for evidence of how the universe began. At his latest posting, in a research centre in the Arctic, news of a catastrophic event arrives. The scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after the others have gone, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realises that the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone.”

Moving on to the tale’s parallel narrative, the synopsis continues: “At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sullivan has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. So far the journey has been a success. But when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sullivan and her crewmates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home.”

And how about the screenwriter?

Mark L Smith is no stranger to stories of characters trapped and alone in isolated environments. Oscar-winning The Revenant saw Leonardo DiCaprio spend much of the two-and-a-half-hour run time on his own, trying to escape the North American wilderness.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 16: Screenwriter Mark L. Smith attends the premiere of 20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises' "The Revenant" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on December 16, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Screenwriter Mark L. Smith is also behind award-winning films including 'The Revenant'. Getty

That’s not to say Smith can’t do dialogue when needed, though – in 2017 he was hired as a screenwriter on Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming addition to the Star Trek franchise, and Tarantino is usually one of the most dialogue-heavy writers/directors out there.

For extra intrigue, Smith also has form with the horror genre, having scripted 2006’s Seance (which he also directed), 2009’s The Hole and 2015’s Martyrs. We don’t really need to explain the potential for horror in remote Arctic research stations or lost spaceships, given the existence of The Thing and Alien.

Clooney himself seems happy with the choice of scribe: “Grant and I couldn’t be more excited to be involved with this incredible project,” he said in a statement. “Mark is a writer we’ve long admired and his script is haunting.

And George Clooney doing sci-fi?

Clooney may be best known as a heart throb and the wisecracking lead in films like Ocean’s 11 and O Brother, Where Art Thou? but he’s no stranger to the sci-fi genre, either. He starred in James Cameron and Steven Soderbergh’s highly ambitious 2002 remake of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Soviet sci-fi classic Solaris.

That film set itself a near-impossible task matching up to the original source material, but was still a solid genre outing in and of itself. He’s also had notable sci-fi workouts in films including the 2013 Oscar winner Gravity, and Disney's 2015 alternate reality yarn Tomorrowland.

Directing sci-fi is admittedly a new one for the star, but he’s no rookie in the director’s chair having six directorial credits to his name prior to Good Morning, Midnight, such as Good Night, and Good Luck, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and The Monuments Men.

Updated: June 25, 2019 03:07 PM

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