Over a year ago my agent got a form letter from somebody representing Jodie Foster and/or the production company making a movie called Elysium. It was a request for the use of my first novel, Child of Silence, as a prop in the movie.
I thought okay, sure, this is neat – some edition of my book will share the silver screen with Jodi Foster! I signed the forms and got a check sufficient to cover a lavish celebratory dinner party at Home Town Buffet ($12 for seniors, all you can eat and the best, possibly only, collard greens in California). Then I completely forgot about Elysium.
Until a few weeks ago when, watching previews on a hot afternoon at Loew’s Boston Common, I saw Jodie in a silver Armani suit and Matt Damon in what looked like parts of a vintage tractor. It all came back.
“Child of Silence is supposed to be a prop in that movie,” I told my son, who wisely said, “Why?”
Who knew? The movie has absolutely no connection to anything in the book, but then who looks at the titles of prop books in movies? Maybe Jodie just liked it and wanted it around. A great fan of her work, I was thrilled at the idea. But of course I would have to see Elysium if only to scan the sets for bookcases, with books in them.
Back in California, I hit the closest Cineplex on Elysium’s opening night, carefully watching both a grungy, apocalyptic ruin shot in Mexico (Earth) and the sterile, manicured and clearly shot in southern California space-station of the wealthy elite (Elysium) for the appearance of anything resembling a book. There wasn’t a single one.
The elite, despite speaking French half the time and looking like the cast from Mad Men, apparently did not read. Neither did the testosterone-maddened crew of Hell’s Angels types on a sickenly overpopulated Earth. But then you don’t expect a lot of literacy from guys with AK 47’s (literally) bolted to their skeletons.
I would have left fifteen minutes into the movie but for my book-search. As it was, I rooted for bad-guy Jodie, blowing the invading riff-raff out of the sky until, of course, semi-cyborg Matt manages to breach Elysium’s defenses in time to save the leukemia-stricken little girl.
The movie ends there. Jodie’s character is dead and in my imagined sequel Elysium is overrun by illiterate thugs who quickly turn it into another seething mess populated with weapons-grade cyborg boys, one kindly old nun and sufficient sweetly imploring young women to continue overpopulation to its inevitable ghastly conclusion.
My book cover wouldn’t have made a conceptual dent in the story, but I wish Jodie had insisted on one long, close shot of anything by Robert Malthus!