George Clooney is back behind (and in front of) the camera for brand new Netflix movie The Midnight Sky, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi epic that also stars Felicity Jones and David Oyelewo.
The film is based on the 2016 novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton, and although it keeps largely faithful to the source material there are nonetheless a number of small changes made for the story’s transition to the big screen.
Read on for everything you need to know about the differences between the book and the film.
How faithful is The Midnight Sky to Good Morning Midnight?
The premise and set-up of both the novel and the film are more or less identical: shortly after a catastrophic event puts life on Earth at major risk, the famous scientist Augustine Lofthouse (Clooney), discovers a seemingly abandoned child at the Arctic base he is working at.
At the same time, the crew of a space ship is returning to Earth from a successful scouting mission to a habitable moon, and Augustine must warn them of the danger waiting for them back on their home planet by making a perilous journey to another base.
Perhaps the biggest change relates to the make-up of the crew on board Aether. While Sully (Felicity Jones) is the main character in both versions, in the book her fellow crewmates are named Devi, Harper and Tal which are different from the names of the crewmates in the film. (According to Clooney, the role played by Kyle Chandler in the film was originally conceived for a 24-year-old Russian.)
Most significant is the change in the relationship between Sully and the Captain – in the book Sully and Harper do decide to start a new life together, but they hadn’t already been in a relationship prior to the events of the story, and Sully wasn’t pregnant with their child, as is the case in the film.
Interestingly, this change was only made for the film because star Felicity Jones was herself pregnant during the shoot, and so they decided to build that into the story.
Speaking about that decision, Clooney said, “So I knocked on Grant’s [producer Grant Heslov] door, and I sat down and realized: I think the character is pregnant, you know? They’d been on a two-year trip in space. Things happen. It’s been known to happen before. I think if we acknowledge it from the very beginning, we can make it part of the story. It would make it more poignant in many ways, if we accept it.”
Heslov said, “It just changed everything. Everybody took a sigh of relief. Making the change had all these great unintended consequences which deepened the story. It adds a layer that wasn’t there originally.”
Beyond that fairly major change, a couple of other alterations were made to add some more action into the film – which screenwriter Mark L. Smith (The Revenant) explained.
“Diving back into my Revenant background, I knew that we needed a few more action beats,” he explained. “We invented some of that, just to keep the tension up. I had to focus on things that were more visual or would get us to a certain point quicker. But the story was already so beautiful, I just tried not to screw it up. It really was more a matter of trimming things away.”
If you fancy reading the book for an even fuller comparison, it’s available to buy on Amazon.