Amazon Studios is set to turn the 1994 novel “The Memory Police” by Yoko Ogawa into a narrative feature, with Reed Morano directing the project and Charlie Kaufman serving as screenwriter. The news was first reported by Deadline. The National Book Award-nominated novel, an Orwellian tale of the dangers of surveillance, was recently translated and released by Pantheon Books in the English language, more than a quarter of a century after its debut in Japan.
Here’s the book’s synopsis, according to Penguin Random House: “On an unnamed island, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses. . . . Most of the inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few able to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten. When a young writer discovers that her editor is in danger, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards, and together they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past. Powerful and provocative, ‘The Memory Police’ is a stunning novel about the trauma of loss.”
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has recently been in more households than ever with the Netflix release of his surreal Iain Reid adaptation “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” back in September. Expect “Memory Police” to be an equally free-spirited adaptation. “The Memory Police” is not Kaufman’s first adaptation of a book for another director. In 2002, he penned “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” based on the autobiography by Chuck Barris, for filmmaker George Clooney. He also wrote “Adaptation” for director Spike Jonze, inspired by Susan Orlean’s nonfiction “The Orchid Thief.”
Reed Morano, meanwhile, has a full plate these days. Her past feature film directing credits include “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Meadowland” — on both of which she served as cinematographer also — and the Blake Lively thriller “The Rhythm Section.” She’s also set up to direct another project for Amazon, entitled “The Power,” a 10-part globe-spanning thriller based on a 2016 feminist science-fiction novel by Naomi Alderman. Morano is also set up to direct Nicole Kidman in “Pretty Things,” along with “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,” both for Amazon. She became the first woman to win the Primetime Emmy for Best Director for the pilot of “The Handmaid’s Tale” back in 2017.