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The Real Reason We'll Never See A Hollywood Adaptation Of Maus

Winner of a 1992 Pulitzer Prize (via Pulitzer.org), the graphic novel "Maus" by cartoonist Art Spiegelman chronicles the life of his Jewish parents in WWII Poland as they suffer Nazi oppression and are eventually interned in the infamous death camp of Auschwitz. In the story, Jewish people are represented as mice, while the Nazis are drawn as menacing cats. "Maus" was published in two volumes in 1986 and 1992, and in 2016 it was celebrated by The Washington Post in an article titled, "Why 'Maus' remains 'the greatest graphic novel ever written,' 30 years later."

As such a unique and high-profile creative work, it's no surprise that filmmakers have been eager to adapt "Maus" to the screen. In fact, according to The Hollywood Reporter, "Spiegelman has been approached at least four separate times over the years to turn 'Maus' into a movie," in addition to turning down licensing and merchandising deals. That being said, it's not likely we'll ever see a Hollywood adaptation of "Maus" in film or on TV, and for one very good reason.

Art Spiegelman refuses to let Hollywood make an adaptation of Maus

Warning: this article contains references to suicide.

Recently, amid the book-banning mania currently underway in some American communities, "Maus" was again the focus of news reports when it became the latest work to be banned in schools. A school board in Tennessee banned "Maus" over "profanity and nudity and its depiction of violence and suicide," according to a statement by the board (via Artnet). It should be noted the nudity is of a non-sexual nature, as it is a depiction of Art Spiegelman's mother in the bathtub after committing suicide. 

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, however, Spiegelman said there has been "no change" to his allowing anyone to adapt the novel for the screen. As to why he keeps refusing offers, Spiegelman elaborated, "I like movies, but 'Maus' is better served as a book. [It's a] more intimate form and comics adhere to the brain better." So, even as the recent national attention to his iconic graphic novel sees it rocketing to the top of best-seller lists (per The Los Angeles Times), it looks like Spiegelman's personal artistic vision is the real reason we'll never see a Hollywood adaptation of "Maus."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.