Satirical novel Catch-22 predicted today’s ‘mad world’, TV writer says
Luke Davis has adapted Joseph Heller’s revered novel for the small screen.
Satirical novel Catch-22 predicted today’s “mad, mad world”, the writer who adapted it for TV said.
Joseph Heller’s 1961 book has been turned into a six-episode mini-series starring, produced and partially directed by George Clooney.
The novel is set during World War II and follows a US airman as his attempts to escape battle are thwarted by a sinister bureaucratic rule.
Heller coined the phrase catch-22, which is now widely used to described a situation from which someone can not escape due to contradictory rules or limitations.
Luke Davis co-wrote the TV adaption and said Heller’s story predicted much of the geopolitical landscape in today’s “mad, mad world”.
Speaking at the series premiere in Los Angeles, he told the Press Association: “It (the novel) has a certain universality in the sense that it’s always a good time to talk about the insanity of war. But it’s also really relevant in terms of the insanity of bureaucracy and red tape.
“I think that’s a thing we feel more and more in this world, this sense of powerlessness with these big corporations and structures. And speaking about corporations and structures, it’s also about the relationship between capitalism and war.
I think that's a thing we feel more and more in this world, this sense of powerlessness with these big corporations and structures Luke Davis
“So in many ways the novel is just the origin story of the present geopolitical here and now and it’s very, very resonant with what’s going on in this mad, mad world today.”
Hollywood star Clooney directed two episodes of Catch-22 and stars as Lieutenant Scheisskopf.
He arrived at Tuesday’s premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard with his wife, Amal.
Clooney was joined by his co-stars, including Christopher Abbott, Kyle Chandler and Daniel David Stewart.
Catch-22, regularly cited as one of the most influential novels of the 20th century, features a brutal rape, said to be Heller’s attempt at conveying the horrors of war.
Davis said the scene was the hardest to write and was also the hardest part of the series for the actors to perform.
“The challenge was always that it’s so dark”, he said. Davis’ co-writer, Richard Brown, said the scene was vital to the story and therefore could not have been omitted.
He said: “I don’t think we could leave it out because it’s important to the story. But then it’s about how you handle it. The sensitivity towards how you handle it.
“It’s not graphically depicted in the show but it’s important that it happens so that we understand his behaviour.
“The point of the rape scene in a way is that the guy gets away with it, because of the lunacy of the bureaucracy of war.”
Catch-22 will air on Channel 4 in the UK.