Disney announced today it now holds the movie adaption rights to Chris Van Allsburg’s book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. This is the third Van Allsburg book Disney is developing for features; it also has The Garden of Abdul Gasazi and The Sweetest Fig in development. But If you know anything about THIS book, you’re probably scratching your head right now wondering just HOW anyone is supposed to make a movie out of it.
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick isn’t a collection of short stories, it’s a collection of sentences taken FROM short stories that don’t exist. On each page you’re shown a picture (in that classic Van Allsburg style) and a brief, vague description of what possibly might be going on. Then it’s on to the next page.
Samples include a drawing depicting a fainted (or possibly dead) woman lying next to an open book with plant fronds emerging from the crack; the caption reads “He had warned her about the book. Now it was too late.” Another page is titled “The Eight Chairs” and simply says “The third one wound up in England,” and you see a bunch of people looking up and pointing at a floating chair as high as the ceiling.
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is often used in creative writing classes; students are encouraged to make up the full stories based on the information given. It appears whoever’s writing the script for this thing (Rafe Judkins, turns out) will have a similar assignment.