While this weekend’s two notable releases–“Blue is the Warmest Color” and Ridley Scott‘s “The Counselor”–had us contemplating the explicit and aberrant examples in film from years past, it should be noted that the “Gladiator” director could’ve brought both to the big screen in a big way–if only a studio would touch it. He’s still made history by making Cormac McCarthy‘s first original screenplay into a chatty and not entirely successful oddity, but in a recent interview, Scott touched briefly on his quashed adaptation of the author’s best known and most grisly work.
Before McCarthy sold his first spec script for Scott eventual film, the director was heavily involved in developing an adaptation of the author’s 1985 novel “Blood Meridian” with screenwriter Bill Monahan (“The Departed”). But as Scott said in a Time Out interview, “[Studios] didn’t want to make it. The book is so uncompromising, which is what’s great about it.” Described as an “anti-western,” the novel follows a teenager’s terrifying and often brutally violent run-ins with a gang of scalp hunters roaming the U.S.-Mexico border, and the pale, hairless man named Judge Holden that rides with them. But as compelling as that sounds, Scott says the film’s content would put it over the edge of decency for most. The novel is more of a horror story than anything else.
“It would have been rated double-X”, he said. “It’s Hieronymus Bosch, the way McCarthy describes the first time you see several hundred horses with bones and feathers on them, and you can’t see a rider until you’re staring at the Comanche. It’s horrific. He writes in visual images which are spectacular, so it suits me down to the ground.”
Indeed, even with the success of “No Country For Old Men,” the reception and general burying of “The Counselor” suggests that studios are still wary of fully getting behind McCarthy’s output. But Scott makes a habit of always finding himself attached to a excess of projects at any one time, and next he hinted at his long-gestating sci-fi tale “The Forever War” saying it’s “written and sitting right here.” Scripted by D.W. Parker (“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”), the Joe Haldeman adaptation focuses on the human race’s shaky grasp on time as they return to Earth after an alien war, and Scott described his influences for wanting to tackle the film.
“Stanley Kubrick‘s “2001” was the door that opened up the possibility of science fiction for me,” he said. “Everything else up to then was fine, but didn’t quite work for me. Then George Lucas did the one and only ‘Star Wars,’ which absolutely blew me away because it was also romantic and a fairy story. The elegance of ‘The Forever War’ fits in with that. I don’t want it to slip sideways into being a “spacey” movie. I’ll go back to the reality of ‘2001’ and let normality be a part of the story.”
When that story is finally seen remains tentative, but for now you can catch “The Counselor” in all its gonzo glory in theaters now.