'Island': Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way to Produce TV Adaptation of Aldous Huxley's Final Novel

Acclaimed writer Aldous Huxley is best known for his 1932 novel Brave New World, which you probably had to read in high school. (A new TV adaptation of that book is currently airing on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service.) But while Brave New World explored a dystopian world, Huxley’s final novel, the 1962 book Island, served as a counterpoint, diving into the idea of a utopian society instead. Now Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Appian Way production company is set to make an Island TV series. Get the details below.

Variety has the news about the upcoming Island TV show, and they describe it like this:

“[The story] follows a cynical journalist shipwrecked on the fictional utopian island of Pala in the Indian Ocean. Originally tasked with exploiting Pala’s natural resources, he uncovers an independently developed society and embraces the people, their culture and traditions — including psychedelic adventures and alternative social structures. His experience alters the course of his mission.”

That sounds a little bit like The Beach, Alex Garland’s book which Danny Boyle adapted into a 2000 movie that starred – yep – Leonardo DiCaprio. Now the actor will executive produce this Island adaptation alongside his producing partner Jennifer Davisson. Also executive producing will be Roee Sharon (300: Rise of an Empire) and Leonardo’s father, George DiCaprio, a former performance artist who has since produced several documentaries about everything from global warming to Polish-American artist Stanislav Szukalski.

I’ve never read Island, but Wikipedia points out that Huxley used the book as an opportunity to flip the script on Brave New World, using similar plot points but contextualizing them in totally different ways. (Example: Brave New World featured characters getting into a trance-like state for indoctrination purposes, while Island uses the trance-like state for super learning.) The idea of a white guy rolling into a utopian society and inadvertently screwing everything up for its inhabitants is a common trope in literature, television, and film, but I wonder how audiences will react to that idea in 2021-ish, in the wake of Hollywood’s reckoning with systemic racism throughout multiple levels of the industry. I don’t expect that trope to just disappear, especially given how entrenched it is in literature and how often books serve as fodder for adaptations, but it’ll be interesting to track the frequency of stories like these in the years to come.

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