The Guillermo Del Toro And Charlie Kaufman Classic Sci-Fi Adaptation We Need To See

By David Wharton | Published

Guillermo del Toro Slaughterhouse-Five

At any given point, Guillermo del Toro’s name is attached, or rumored to be attached, to tons of different projects that may or may not ever come to fruition. One movie that had his name on it for quite some time was an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

There was a time when Guillermo del Toro sounded off to let the world know that Slaughterhouse-Five might still happen and that he’d talked about it with another great moviemaker.

Back in 2013, while talking to the Huffington Post as part of press rounds, Guillermo del Toro said he was hoping to get the film up and running in recent years, but he then got sidetracked by Pacific Rim.

But he definitely had a good pick for who he wanted to pen it: Charlie Kaufman, screenwriter of movies such as Adaptation and Being John Malkovich.

Said Guillermo del Toro, “I spoke to Charlie Kaufman about it and we came up with an idea on how to approach it, which I thought was very, very interesting.”

While some might consider the book’s jumbled timeline the hardest part to get right, that element is precisely what attracted del Toro to it in the first place.

He said, “What is gorgeous about the book is that [Billy] becomes detached from time … The Tralfamadoians [the aliens from the book] say, ‘Like we can see a mountain range. We can see the alive, we can see the dead, we can see ourselves at age five and we can see ourselves ancient. It makes no difference.’ It makes no difference.”

Guillermo del Toro continued, “And that was the idea that we were talking about. We were talking about how it was going to be very experimental. But, you know, if I had the money to pay for any of these movies, I would do it. I would do it in a second.”

As far as the movie rights go, those are still out of Guillermo del Toro’s hands, which, as with most moviemaking issues, ends up being the biggest issue.

He said, “It may still happen. But, I don’t control the material. Let me put it this way: when I control the material, I never give up on a movie… but if I don’t control the material, I have no say. It’s a property of Universal.”

Adapting Vonnegut’s classic into a movie is challenging, to say the least. The protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, becomes “unstuck in time,” so the story constantly leaps back and forth throughout his life.

charlie kaufman

The book combines some realistic historical depictions of Billy’s experiences in World War II with sci-fi aspects involving the Tralfamadorians, a fictional alien race. Balancing these contrasting tones and genres on screen makes for a very heavy lift.

Plus, adding ideas around war and fate along with the subjective nature of time and you kind of need minds like Guillermo del Toro and Charlie Kaufman to take the reigns. Really, who else would be better at doing this than these two?

Slaughterhouse-Five was previously made into a movie in 1972, directed by George Roy Hill.

It’s been more than a decade since those words, and clearly there is no Guillermo del Toro Slaughterhouse-Five adaptation on the way.