[Milton-L] PL, the movie
pluscachange at comcast.net
Sun Mar 4 06:30:31 EST 2007
tinyurl went right to the printable version. I copy & paste the article here.
Milton as Mafioso? God the Godfather?
At 11:01 AM 3/4/2007 +0000, you wrote:
>Is it just me or do neither of these links manage to reach the article? Any
>chance you could copy and paste?
>In message <200703040951.l249pKan030070 at polyester.richmond.edu> John Milton
>Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu> writes:
> > Yes, it's apparently almost a fait accompli (my oxymoron of the day).
> > Here's the NYTimes report:
> > http://select.nytimes.com/mem/tnt.html?
> > Or: http://tinyurl.com/32zp6z
The New York Times
Printer Friendly Format Sponsored By
March 4, 2007
Its God vs. Satan. But What About the Nudity?
By MICHAEL JOSEPH GROSS
"AS soon as you started talking about a battle in
Heaven, he just couldnt relate, the screenwriter Philip de Blasi recalled.
It was a particularly demoralizing pitch meeting,
explained his writing partner, Byron Willinger,
because the producer, this guy who has made some
of the most successful blockbusters ever, started
looking at his nails, and I dont think he looked
away from his nails for the whole 15 minutes.
Then there was the studio executive who, halfway
through the pitch, blurted: Wait a minute. You mean God is God?
Such were the travails of the writers who
traveled from New York to Hollywood in 2004 to
hawk their adaptation of
For two novice screenwriters John Miltons
17th-century epic poem, which tells the story of
Lucifers fall and the temptation of Adam and
Eve, was an audacious choice of material. We
figured someones going to make a movie of it
someday, and it might as well be us, Mr.
Willinger said in a telephone interview.
They persevered and finally made a rendezvous
with fate years in the making. Almost three
decades before, a little boy named Vincent Newman
was skimming through the Bible, desperate for
something to relieve the boredom that was Sunday
school in Fresno, Calif. Finding mention of a
fight between angels and devils, he jolted awake,
and thus began a lifelong fascination with battles between good and evil.
Mr. Newman, now 39, is an independent producer of
medium-size movies with midrange male stars (most
Man Apart with
Diesel) who has long dreamed of exploring his
boyhood curiosity by making a Paradise Lost
movie. Then, after stumbling upon mention of the
poem in a Christian inspirational book called
Epic: The Story God Is Telling and the Role That
Is Yours to Play, his dream turned to resolve.
At lunch one day, Mr. Newman said, an agent asked
him out of the blue if Id ever heard of Paradise Lost.
He said, Ive got these clients, these guys are
crazy enough that they wrote this thing on spec.
Mr. Newman bought the script and arranged
co-financing with Legendary Pictures, which, with
Warner Brothers, produced Superman Begins and
Returns. Legendarys chairman and chief
executive, Thomas Tull, said his first response
to the idea was, Well, thats going to make a
lot of older folks relive bad college
experiences. Later he realized that if you get
past the Milton of it all, and think about the
greatest war thats ever been fought, the story
itself is pretty compelling, he said.
As with any Hollywood development project, things
are changing along the way. The original script
hewed a bit too closely to Milton for the
producers taste, for instance. Mr. Newman, by
his own account, told the writers he wanted less
Adam and Eve and more about whats happening with
the archangels, the battle in Heaven between Gods and Satans armies.
In Eden theres the nudity problem, he pointed
out, which would be a big problem for a big studio movie.
Mr. Newman also knows that some might see this
project as a fools errand. Its a
400-some-odd-page poem written in Old English,
he said, laughing. How do you find the movie in
that? But he speaks of the project with
unflagging enthusiasm, though it may seem his
passion is more for the idea of the poem than for
the poem itself. (Its in blank verse, not Old English.)
This could be like The Lord of the Rings, or
bigger, he said. Daniel Craig and
Ledger are two of his top choices for Lucifer.
The film, which will make extensive use of
digital effects, is still waiting for a definite
go-ahead from a studio. Mr. Tull said its budget
would likely be in the range of $100 million.
Derrickson, who declined to be interviewed for
this article, is known for his horror films
exploring supernatural themes of good and evil
Exorcism of Emily Rose,
Inferno) and is likely to direct. The scripts
second draft was written by Stuart Hazeldine,
whose sole previous credit is a science-fiction
TV movie called
(Mr. Hazeldine is also adapting the popular DC
comic Battle Chasers for 20th Century Fox.)
The filmmakers hope that Paradise Lost will
prove enticing to Christian audiences. Mr.
Hazeldine said he read several theological
tomes because Im adapting Milton, and then
Miltons kind of adapting Genesis, and I wanted
to make sure that for the faith audience, I
guess, that they will see it more as The Passion
of the Christ than The Last Temptation of
Christ that is, more a reverent treatment of
Biblical material than a reconsideration. Both he
and Mr. Derrickson said they are Christians, as
are Mr. Newman and the scripts original writers.
Even so, Mr. Newman said the film is not a
Christian endeavor or Christian movie.
But he added that it would be made with total
adherence and respect to any of the three
religions involvement in the story of God, the
Devil and the archangels, referring to
Christianity, Judaism and Islam. But its a war
movie at the end of the day, Mr. Newman said.
As a Christian, Mr. Hazeldine said, the project
poses a challenge for people like Scott and I,
who have a faith, but we just love movies. He
added, We often find that we are wondering, are
we too worldly for the church and too churchy for the world?
But jabs are likely, if not from the faithful,
then almost certainly from Milton scholars.
Miltonists have not traditionally been
interested in popularizing, in the way
Shakespeareans have, said Gregory Colón Semenza,
assistant professor of English at the
of Connecticut and co-editor, with Laura Lunger
Knoppers, of Milton in Popular Culture.
Mr. Semenza pointed out that many films have been
influenced by the epic, some obviously
Advocate, in which
Pacinos Satan character is named John Milton),
others less so (the light sabers
Star Wars, some contend, must have been inspired
by Miltons angels flaming swords).
Still, he said, theres the sense that Milton is
the last figure that can be protected from the
tentacles of pop culture, so there is some
resistance to this movie, and to the film
adaptation currently in production for New Line
Golden Compass, the first of Philip Pullmans
best-selling His Dark Materials trilogy of
young adult novels based on Paradise Lost.
The depiction of Satan may be a polarizing one
among scholars. Some, in line with Romantic poets
like William Blake, will want the dark prince to
be the hero; others wont be happy unless Satan
is a self-deceiving hypocrite, and the story an
education in virtue and obedience.
Fish, author of Surprised by Sin: The Reader in
Paradise Lost, said in a telephone interview
that the filmmakers could use these two readings
of Paradise Lost in a dramatic fashion, as Milton does.
In the introductory books, he added, the
figure of Satan is presented with a certain kind
of heroic glaze surrounding him, but then, as the
poem proceeds, Milton quite deliberately, and for
some readers unforgivably, insists that you see
the terrible emptiness and self-aggrandizing
narcissism at the heart of this character. You
could pull the audience in by giving them the
kind of romantic rebel that is so easy to respond
to, and then pull them up short and ask them to
re-think the matter and ask them to think about
why this figure has such appeal to them.
As for Mr. Hazeldines answer to the Satan
question: Milton was trying to achieve with
Paradise Lost what Scorsese was trying to
achieve with Henry Hill in Goodfellas. You
cant understand the nature of the fall until
youve tasted some of the exhilaration of sin and
crime. Scorsese makes you feel the rush of being
in the Mafia what its like to be special, get
the best table at a restaurant, kill anyone and
get away with it. Milton was after something like
that, and thats what were trying to convey.
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