In doing some research recently on directors that frequently look to books as a source for theatrical and television projects, one name kept popping up over and over again. It really should have been a no-brainer. The answer was so obvious that made me smack myself on the head and say, “Well, duh!”
Steven Spielberg, undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s most influential and prolific personalities, continues to draw from books as source material for both big screen and small screen projects. Just look at a sample list of Spielberg’s past work:
True Grit – Executive Producer – This reboot by the Coen Brothers of the John Wayne classic, and based on the novel by Charles Portis, earned a spot on my Top 10 list of best film of 2010.
Minority Report – Director – Perhaps one of Tom Cruise’s best roles, this look at a future where crime is predicted by precogs and Big Brother is everywhere is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.
Catch Me If You Can – Director – Stan Redding and Frank W. Abagnale – The real-life story of the ultimate scam artist. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Frank Abagnale, Jr., a young man who makes his way to 26 countries, successfully impersonates a doctor, an assistant attorney general, an airline pilot and pockets more $2.5 million in the process. Based on the book by Stan Redding and Frank W. Abagnale.
Schindler’s List – Director – From the acclaimed book by Thomas Keneally, this Spielberg film is more than just a movie. It is the documentation of history, but more than that, it is a testament to the human spirit, and how one man can truly make a difference in the lives of many, many others.
Jurassic Park – Director – The film that sparked my son’s rabid fascination with dinosaurs (resulting in a massive tattoo in homage to the film…but that is a story for another time), Michael Crichton’s book is as wonderful as Spielberg’s film. This is one film I never grow tired of watching.
The Color Purple – Director – There’s just no other way to say it. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences screwed up royally on this one. Spielberg’s masterful adaptation of Alice Walker’s written work about the life and hardships of Celie Johnson (performed brilliantly by Whoopi Goldberg) was absolutely robbed of Oscar wins in 1985. Both “Out of Africa” and “The Color Purple” received a total of 11 Oscar nominations, yet “Out of Africa” won Best Picture of 1985. How many Oscars did “The Color Purple” receive? Not one.
Steven Spielberg continues to be a busy, busy man, with multiple film and television projects in the works, many of which are based on books. Here is a look at what you have to look forward to from Spielberg, and the books from which they are inspired:
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn – The animated film based on the series of graphic novels written and drawn by Georges Prosper Remi. The film is directed by Spielberg, and features voice talent from: Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Jamie Bell, Cary Elwes and Nick Frost. The film is currently set for release on December, 2011.
War Horse – Spielberg directs this World War I drama about a young man, Albert (Jeremy Irvine), and the special bond he has with his horse, Joey. When Joey is sold off to the cavalry and sent to the trenches on the World War I battlefront, despite being too young to enlist, young Albert sets off for France to rescue his horse. The film is based on the 1982 children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo. The film, starring Emily Watson and David Thewlis is set for a December, 2011 release.
The Talisman – Despite hitting multiple snags, Spielberg still is listed as Executive Producer of a made for TV mini-series based on the book from horror fiction giants Stephen King and Peter Straub. While few details are available, IMDb.com still lists this project as active, and with a projected 2012 date for television.
I am Number Four – Spielberg serves as Executive Producer of the film that is based on the book by Pittacus Lore. This sci-fi flick tells the story of John (Number Four), a teenager with special powers, who hides his true identity by passing as an average high school student. When an unknown enemy begins killing others like John, he finds himself on the run to avoid being number four to die. The film stars Dianna Agron (“Glee”), Timothy Olyphant and Alex Pettyfer and is set for release on February 18, 2011.
Lincoln – Steven Spielberg’s long awaited Lincoln biopic begins production later this year, and with the announcement of Daniel Day-Lewis as Spielberg’s Lincoln, this one seems destined for critical acclaim and awards success. The film is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Any casting suggestions for Mary Todd Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, William Tecumseh Sherman and John Wilkes Booth?