I was recently clicking around on-line when I stumbled upon a small item on David Poland’s site which featured a look at the poster for David Fincher’s upcoming film Zodiac, based on the unsolved Zodiac Killer crimes in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. As a fan of true crime stories, the story of the Zodiac murders has always scared my pants off because of the escalating and bizarre nature of the horrible crimes, their randomness, the ciphers and tantalizing clues that the Zodiac delivered to the authorities and the fact that the crimes remain unsolved. I have been following Fincher’s project from afar, very much looking forward to seeing what he brings to the story as I think he may be the perfect person to tell it.
True Crimes: Writer/Columnist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) discusses The Zodiac case with Inspector Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) in David Fincher’s forthcoming Zodiac
The poster also reminded me of another situation whch I think is pretty interesting. In March of this year, THINKFilm released another film about the Zodiac Killer, Alexander Bulkley’s The Zodiac, a somewhat successful re-telling of the story of the Zodiac, this one, like Fincher’s, focused on law enforcement’s failed attempt to find the killer. Here, as was the case with the two recent films about Truman Capote and the writing of In Cold Blood (last year’s Capote and this year’s Infamous), we have two films about essentially the same exact subject coming out within a year of one another, this time with almost the exact same name. Interestingly, it seems to be a reverse model of the Capote projects; the more well-known film in this case will most certainly come out after the first, lesser known project. While time will tell what the box office has in store for Infamous and Zodiac, and I look forward to seeing both, I can’t help but wonder if to have two sets of twin films, albeit different takes on the same subject, all coming so close together heralds a new trend in the industry. I don’t mind it so much, but with many films not being picked up and so few films gobbling up so much screen space, I wonder if it makes sense. I guess filmgoers will decide if this is a viable situation for these films (it certainly appears to be more so for Zodiac than The Zodiac) or if the repetition of a single story only sabotages the narrative power of both films. Time will tell. In the meantime, I’ll be popping The Zodiac on my Netflix queue and I can’t wait to see what Fincher does with one of the creepiest crime stories in American history. It seems as though he has controversially chosen to tell the story told by Robert Graysmith in his book Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked, which has been challenged by some as misrepresenting the evidence of the case in favor of telling a good story. But hey, as the foundation of a movie script, a good story is fine by me. It’s impossible to tell a historical story with 100% accuracy, but I’m sure that Zodiac will be a very good, highly compelling movie. Or at least I hope it is, because I’ve got goosebumps already.
(For more on the controversy surrounding Graysmith’s book Zodiac Unmasked and his claims to have solved the case, and recognizing a major potential SPOILER about the film, click here.)