The article linked above bodes ill for any possible movie outcome. “A wild rumpus” is not what I think of when I contemplate “The Monkeywrench Gang.”
As Carroll Ballard discovered when he bought the option in the 70s, it’s near impossible to make an honest movie from the book without stepping on the toes of those asked to front the money for it. An “edgy, comedic story”promoted with “‘girlie’ ‘Monkey Wrench’ T-shirts'”is hardly in keeping with the basic anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, anti-civilization theme underlying everything in MWG. I don’t see how it could end other than a cultural disaster, at least from our point of view.
Ed did want to see MWG on the silver screen (are they still silver?), after the success of “Lonely are the Brave.” That was a simpler time, of course, when a simple story could be told simply and well, and appreciated as such. Having recruited Jamie Marshall for the “high speed chase scenes” (a jeep and a train? boulders rolling down a mountain?), I see a Mission Highly Improbable on the horizon, if it ever arrives at all.
Interesting thoughts, as I sit here contemplating my own novel. I read Abbey, not for the exciting story, the cliffhanger ending, the comedic interplay of hysterical characters. I read Abbey because I love the way he slings words together, his glowing descriptions of the landscape, and, of course, his working out of the social philosophy I hold dear. I guess that’s why I’ve always enjoyed “Good News,” as the best of Abbey’s radical writing. “Black Sun” and “The Fool’s Progress” are from the heart. “MWG,” “Fire on the Mountain,” and “The Brave Cowboy” are from the head.
A Monkywrench Gang movie would have little of Abbey left in it, despite the best of intentions of the screenwriter and director. Even in these days of modern times, with the political climate changing from right of center to… slightly less right of center, the central message of Monkeywrench Gang can’t be released into the public consciousness without being bastardized by commercialism, thus negating the message. Try to imagine a truly subversive Monkeywrench Gang movie at your local cinematic entertainment emporium.
Perhaps it’s time, if there ever will be time before the whole sordid mess collapses into its own grimy, decaying foundation. If Al Gore can do it, why not Ed Abbey, rising from his grave to strike one more blow against the megamachine.