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We Can't Wait to See How They'll Manage to Film The City & The City

Illustration for article titled We Cant Wait to See How Theyll Manage to Film iThe City  The City/i

The characters in China Miéville’s The City & The City live their lives inside a visual challenge. We can’t see what will happen when the BBC and Mammoth Screen try to include us in that challenge.


The City & The City made our list of the top nine science fiction books to give to people who don’t like science fiction, so it’s fitting that the people filming it have previously been involved in non-genre pieces like Poldark and Parade’s End. On its face, the story is a murder mystery, in which Inspector Tyador Borlú investigates the death of a young foreign exchange student. It’s the city he’s in, and the one he’s not in, that makes it much more complicated.

The inspector resides in Besźel, but the exchange student was studying Ul Qoma. The two cities occupy the same space. The citizens of each city dress and move differently, the buildings have different architecture, and the people native to the region learn to see only one of the cities at a time. If they don’t, they run afoul of a sinister patrol unit called Breach.


It works on the page, but how to you keep the two cities separate when you’re pointing a camera at them both at the same time? We don’t know, but we can’t wait to find out!

[Source: Digital Spy]

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It all depends on if they decide to show us what the characters see, or what is actually there. In the former case the trick will be the moment of visual explanation when we see that the two cities are the same, while in the latter the trick will be cluing the audience into the idea that the characters can only really perceive half of what we the audience is seeing. Or they can completely ignore the point of the book, and make it actually be magic.