Harry reports on THE DARK IS RISING in Bucharest!!!
Published at: May 15, 2007, 1:34 a.m. CST by headgeek
Bucharest… Romania… They’re words on a globe, a place that doesn’t entirely seem real to me. A place that Jonathan Harker visited on his way to Dracula’s castle. A place where one of the worst tyrants of all time reigned, Ceausescu. I remember during my first semester of college, the amazing pictures of this city as it took it’s own freedom through revolution and a monster was done away with.
This used to be one of the jewels of Eastern Europe, but under a harsh rule, the town changed and the people changed. And over the last 18 years, wow… it’s been that long, what has this city and place become.
I was very curious to see what this place was like, so when an opportunity to come to Bucharest, a place, I never could have imagined coming to – showed up… well, I had to go.
What was the reason for coming?
Well, there’s a new movie called THE DARK IS RISING, from a new studio called FOX WALDEN from a fairly new director named David Cunningham – with a lot of talent behind him.
I’m here, because I don’t know much about this film, I mean – I knew it was based on a fantasy novel by Susan Cooper, that is in itself a series of fantasy novels, but I’ve never read them. On the plane over, I read the script by John Hodge, you know him… he’s that Scottish writer behind SHALLOW GRAVE, TRAINSPOTTING, A LIFE LESS ORDINARY and THE BEACH. Danny Boyle’s early co-conspirator. What was he doing writing a screenplay adaptation of some juvenile fantasy?
Well, he was doing a damn good job of story-telling.
You see, this is the story of young Will Stanton. He’s the runt of the family litter. The youngest in a house overstuffed with big brothers. On top of that, his family is living in England, where his Physics Professor father is teaching. He feels out of place here, in fact he feels out of place in his own home. He’s at the age, where he begins to long for pretty girls, even though he’s not entirely positive what he’s supposed to do with them, not that he’d have the nerve to do much of anything at all. For one, his brothers are always teasing him, not cruelly, but in that way that big brothers do. Will Stanton has never been a special boy. He’s not particularly exceptional in any way, nor has his life.
We pick up on Will’s life just before he is turning 14. He’s cursed with a birthday, just two days before Christmas. Meaning… getting short changed on the present side, and being sort of swept up in the midst of Christmas. On this day, people begin coming forward and singling Will out by name. Old people, old BRITISH people. And when he looks, it seems people, dogs, birds… they’re all watching him. Is he just being paranoid?
You see, poor Will – he’s destined to attempt to save the world. It’s the old story of Light vs Dark. A timeless tale… no, a time-full tale – one that will take place in many ages but in one place. This small town that he lives in. Will belongs here, and when the Old Ones come forward with his destiny, he’s not sure if he believes. When The Walker stalks him, he doesn’t know why. When the Rider hunts him, he wants to run. And when the mall police beak out and chase him, he begins to sense something very very messed up.
WALDEN – which has made THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE at Disney, SAHARA at Paramount and THE BRIDGE OF TERABITHIA, along with others has been making fine, handsome productions out of literature. This is their latest.
Here in Bucharest, on the lot of MediaPro Studios – on the edge of the most ancient forest in Bucharest – they are shooting THE DARK IS RISING. The film isn’t cast with big movie stars, instead – it’s filled with great character actors and performers that come from the land of television. You’ve got Ian McShane from DEADWOOD, Frances Conroy from SIX FEET UNDER and Christopher Eccleston from HEROES and curiously enough… SHALLOW GRAVE by John Hodge. The star of the film though is a very young Alexander Ludwig, an unproven little boy, that has to carry a pretty big film upon his shoulders. Also, the film has actors like Jonathan Jackson, James Cosmo, Jim Piddock and the very very lovely Amelia Warner.
Not giant names, but the right ones for their characters. Strong performers whose faces are not over exposed on the silver screen.
On the back side, the talent making this movie with this young director, more known for Documentaries, than features – are folks like Production Designer, David Lee – he’s been Art Director on films like BATMAN BEGINS and STAR WARS: EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH. Then there’s Vin Burnham – she’s worked in costumes – designing or creating work for films like Tim Burton’s BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS, for THE FIFTH ELEMENT and BRAZIL. Films like Monty Python’s THE MEANING OF LIFE. Working on projects like THE DARK CRYSTAL, LABYRINTH… Her most famous creation, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Cat Suit for BATMAN RETURNS.
This article is the tease for many more articles to come. The pictures above are images from the film. Below – you’ll see one shot I took on set. Nearly everyone mentioned in this article, I’ve interviewed one on one for an hour each yesterday. I was given access to dailies and edited together scenes. Went on tons of the sets and I came away with a great feeling about this project. They’ve got huge painted backdrops, A Snowglobe the size of your house. Enormous sets that you’d imagine were made for the likes of Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone. I can’t wait to share this experience with all of you, but I must leave for the Carpathian Mountains right now… I’m off to see Transylvania… to see castles and vampires. I’ve got me garlic, holy water and cross around my neck. Till I get back stateside, this is Harry signing off from Bucharest from the set of THE DARK IS RISING...