Not Really a Review of Never Let Me Go

I am debating in my mind whether or not to see the new British film, Never Let Me Go, which is directed by Mark Romanek and based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. I looked up Ishiguro’s novel on Wikipedia, and when I read the synopsis, I was startled to learn that it has the same basic idea as The Clonus Horror, a Grade B science fiction movie that was made in 1979, and which starred Peter Graves, Dick Sargent and Keenan Wynn. (You may recall that it was shown on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.) It tells the story of a group of people who discover that they’re really clones, and they’re going to eventually be killed so their organs can be harvested. Since Ishiguro wrote the novel in 2005, I think it likely that he got the idea from The Clonus Horror. (He may have watched it on MST3K.) The novel was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize. It did pretty well for a book inspired by a bad movie.

At first it struck me as cheesy that Ishiguro would take an idea from a movie that appeared on MST3K. On further reflection, however, I can’t really fault him for this. Having done some writing myself, I know that coming up with ideas is hard. Shakespeare had to get his stories from wherever he could find them. My problem is that I don’t know if I’ll be able to take this film seriously, knowing its origins. What’s more, the trailer makes it look like one of those self-consciously arty, but decidedly middlebrow, British films. I’ve had bad experiences with those things in the past. On the other hand, it does have Carey Mulligan, whom I liked very much in An Education. Then again, the wikipedia article says that the novel ends with the main character resigned to being killed and her organs being harvested. Yuck. The hero of The Clonus Horror at least fights back. That’s the kind of story I like to see.

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