Monday, November 14, 2011

Paradise Lost: The Basics

So what are we looking at? This entry will look at the basic information that is known about the film.

The Title

This might seem odd, but it is worth noting that the movie will be called Paradise Lost. As an example, the movie Troy was based on Homer's Iliad but it was not called the Iliad. I've only just started reading the Iliad so I can't judge the differences between the two, but I do know the movie, which I have seen, removed the gods from the story. The gods are mentioned but they are never shown anthropomorphically like they are in Homer's poem. This would make me mad but the movie wasn't exactly the Iliad; it was Troy. It was a re-imagining. When I talk about the Iliad, people know that I am talking about the book not the movie. In contrast when I talk about the Chronicles of Narnia (books) it is often mistaken for the movies. When you use the title of a book for your movie, to me that implies that this is an adaptation not a re-imagining. The movie will be representative of the book.

The Director

Alex Proyas will be directing Paradise Lost. The only movies I've seen of his are i,Robot and Dark City. I saw i,Robot when I was younger and I don't remember a lot about it but I have seen Dark City earlier this year. I have to say the idea of the mind behind Dark City adapting Paradise Lost frightens me. In the end Dark City is a humanist story while Paradise Lost is definitely not. (SPOILERS to follow) In Dark City the character John Murdoch is haunted by visions of "Shell Beach"- a place of innocence and that is free of all the darkness and corruption of Dark City. As it turns out the Dark City is a petri dish for humans, run by pale-faced observers. At the end, John uses his inherent powers to defeat the observers and create his own shell beach. This has been compared to Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" but with a major difference I think. In Plato's story the characters have only seen shadows on walls and echoes and thus think that they are material reality while in fact they are mere byproducts of material reality. Dark City isn't like that. It isn't, as I was hoping, that Dark City is just a shadow of the real Shell Beach. Rather Dark City is real and Shell Beach is just a trick devised by John's experimenters. This, for me, was very disappointing. At the end, John creates his own Shell Beach, hence the humanism. Now is this the director I want to adapt Paradise Lost. My first reaction, of course, is an emphatic 'NO'! Directors can be versatile though. Maybe Alex Proyas will accept Paradise Lost for what it is and faithfully adapt it. I can hope, right? My biggest concern for this movie right now is that Proyas will draw on a modern interpretation of Paradise Lost. This interpretation, which Phillip Pullman evidently prefers, makes Satan the real tragic hero he pretends to be. According to this interpretation, Satan is right in defying God. With what little I know about the director, namely Dark City, I fear the movie adaptation of Paradise Lost will follow this interpretation rather than what Milton was actually trying to say (which, by the way, he clearly states in Book I: "That, to the height of this great argument, I may assert eternal providence And justify the ways of God to men.")

The Actors

I am unfamiliar with all of the actors so I will be judging most of them solely on their appearance. Over-analysis at its best.

 Bradley Cooper Picture
First off, we have Bradley Cooper as Satan. My first reaction to this was very negative. The guy from The Hangover is going to play Lucifer? *headdesk* Then I got to thinking, it could be worse: he could be playing Adam or Gabriel. I might be unfair in judging him on his performance in one movie (by the way, I have not seen The Hangover and I don't plan on doing so). I know he's been in other not-as-dumb movies and I should probably check one out before Paradise Lost hits theatres. Where am I now? I can actually begin to see this working. His face can come across as very irreverent and cocky. Excellent.

The angels of Heaven look pretty good. I can imagine them as angels. Not a lot I can say until I see their performances.

Benjamin Walker Picture

Benjamin Walker as Michael. Looks good.

 Casey Affleck Picture

Casey Affleck as Gabriel. Also looks good.

Callan McAuliffe Picture

Callan McAuliffe as Uriel. Good but looks pretty young. Surely, Alex Proyas must know that angels are ageless.

Djimon Hounsou Picture

Djimon Hounsou. I never pictured angels as being black. This isn't necessarily a problem, I just wonder if he's only in here to make the movie politically correct rather than his rightness for the part.

There are a couple rumoured actors I would like to talk about but I guess I'll wait until they are official *coughAdamandEvecough*

I will now go through IMdB's archives and when I find something noteworthy, I'll comment on it.