“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” Alright, Franz Kafka (and Kafka’s English translators), that’s a pretty solid opening. And in general, The Metamorphosis is a great novella that has inspired conversations about topics such as Marxism and the modern family. But you know what it’s missing? A love interest and a good old-fashioned comedy of manners. This is my (would-be rejected) pitch for a romantic comedy film version of Kafka’s classic.
Dear Studio Executives,
I am an aspiring screenwriter and am coming to you today with a suggestion for a bold new adaptation of Franz Kafka’s literary masterpiece The Metamorphosis. I had to read that book in my freshman English class in college and at first I wasn’t that into it because it’s hard to relate to a guy that turns into a giant insect. But then I thought to myself, This has a lot of potential. This could be the springboard for something much better.
A quick Wikipedia search has revealed to me that there have already been many film adaptations of The Metamorphosis, but to my knowledge, there has yet to be an adaptation featuring my bold new innovation: a love interest for Gregor Samsa.
In the original books, there’s a part where the Samsa family takes in these middle-aged men as boarders, but I’m thinking we replace the middle-aged men with a beautiful, intelligent young woman named Marta. Marta will be a confident, modern lady whose only weakness is caring too much about animals (well, and she has a gluten allergy, but that won’t be played up as much). She’s the type of person who can’t even hurt a bug and does that thing where you trap a spider under a Mason jar and then put a playing card underneath and set it free outside. I’m imagining her as a Scarlett Johansson type or, if money allows, as Scarlett Johansson.
At the beginning of the film, we learn that Scarlett Johansson and her fiancé have recently called off their wedding because the fiancé was just tired of her caring so damn much about animals. She needs a place to stay while she picks up the broken pieces of her life, and she just happens to stumble across the Samsa’s house.
When Scarlett Johansson first arrives at the house, Gregor is still pretty upset about having turned into a giant insect for no apparent reason and is attempting to end it all by jumping out his window. His suicide attempt doesn’t work, though, because he has a hard exoskeleton (I’ve already started doing quite a bit of research on insects). Also, his room is on the first floor. The point is, he gets a second chance at life and decides to make the most of it.
The meet cute between Gregor and Scarlett Johansson will occur when Gregor scuttles into the main part of the house in an attempt to forage for food. Scarlett is about to sign the lease, but then she sees Gregor and is at first repulsed, but then remembers how much she loves animals and realizes it would be hypocritical to be prejudiced against a scary monster insect. This will all be conveyed through a close-up of her eyes. I have full confidence in Scarlett’s acting abilities for this scene; have you seen Lost in Translation?I cried.
Gregor, of course, knows that he’s in love with Scarlett as soon as he sets his beady eyes on her. But he’s worried that she’ll be way out of his league and that they’ll have nothing to talk about, especially since he can only communicate through a series of hissing and clicking noises. I’ve watched a lot of romantic comedies, though, and I know that this is good—your two protagonists are not supposed to get along well at first. They need some kind of improbable event to bring them together. And do I ever have something big planned.
First of all, it’s important to the plot that the story takes place during World War II. I know that The Metamorphosis was published in 1915, but all the best movies take place during World War II—Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I think a war-time setting really lends a sense of gravity. It also allows the protagonists to go searching for a magical relic that is being held by the Nazis, which is what will happen in my film. In the second act, Gregor and Scarlett Johansson will learn from a traveling gypsy fortuneteller that there is a magical emerald that could turn Gregor back into a human but that it’s residing in Adolf’s secret treasure trove. The rising action of the film, then, will involve Gregor and Samsa trying to get the emerald. Some might say that this is an unconventional approach for a romantic comedy, but I think this kind of genre-blending is just what the industry needs to recover from the recession.
After several impressive airplane hangar explosions and witty one-liners from Gregor (his hissing will be translated in subtitles), the pair will finally find the magic emerald hidden inside Hitler’s bunker, but it doesn’t turn Gregor back into a human. This causes the two of them to realize that the real treasure isn’t the enormous emerald but their love. Right at the moment of this epiphany we’ll roll the credits, which will be set to The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love”. If Diana Ross won’t give us the rights to the song, I’d also settle for “German Love” by the Portland hipster band Starfucker.
Final thought: A good tagline for the movie poster might be Sometimes the biggest metamorphosis is one of the heart.
I eagerly wait to hear back from you about this exciting project. I’d be open to making a few changes, but ultimately I want to maintain creative control. This is my baby, after all.