Neil Druckmann, the designer of The Last of Us, explains why a television series rather than a movie better fit the video game adaptation. The Last of Us, which will air on HBO this month, will adapt the first game in the well-known video game series of the same name. The Last of Us, a video game developed by Naughty Dog, follows Joel and Ellie as they journey through a post-apocalyptic America in the hopes that Ellie’s inherent resistance to the terrifying Cordyceps virus will aid in world preservation. Joel will be portrayed by Pedro Pascal and Ellie by Bella Ramsey in the HBO version of this highly anticipated series, which is set to premiere in 2023.
Druckmann, the designer of the game and co-showrunner of the series, talks about how the adaptation was first tried as a movie as people get ready for The Last of Us to be on screens eventually. Druckmann discussed how they soon decided that The Last of Us would work better as TV, which could better reflect the breadth of the game, in an interview with Variety at the film’s recent premiere. He explains that a series enabled them to fully explore the slow burn of Joel and Ellie’s love because The Last of Us’ 15 hours of gameplay just could not be condensed into a 2-hour length. See the quote from Druckmann below.
The short answer is that the story is too long. We tried to make it into a movie, and it did not work because what is usually a 15-hour experience and compressing it down into two hours, it didn’t work and there is always something else that is popping out I felt was important to the story. This time around it allowed us to take our time and have a slow burn with the relationship between Joel and Ellie, over a year-long journey that could have only been adapted into a TV show.
The Last of Us as an HBO series could do justice to the game
Joel and Ellie’s connection is essential to the story of The Last of Us, as Druckmann points out, so it would surely feel disrespectful to many if it wasn’t given precedence in the game’s adaptation. According to what has been disclosed thus far, Joel and Ellie will continue to play a central role in this epic story when it transitions to television. The Last of Us producers have attempted to reproduce the pair’s relationship and how their unusual friendship develops in a turbulent and perilous setting.
With nine episodes, The Last of Us will give fans plenty of time to completely immerse themselves in Joel and Ellie’s world without skipping any key narrative or aesthetic components that contributed to the game’s popularity. The newest The Last of Us teaser revealed some much-anticipated peeks of what’s to come and thrilled many by reaffirming that the HBO series would be filled with game-accurate moments. Fans of the game will probably be appreciative to see such an in-depth adaptation play out on screen because The Last of Us has such a complicated tale that it is obvious why the adaptation’s designers decided it would work better throughout a series.