Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Gilliam's Big Comics Plan

Terry Gilliam is working on projects for the Virgin Comics Director's Cut line. This puts him in mixed company, alongside John Woo (Woo!) and Guy Richie (Boo!). From recent comments in interview - one of which already appeared on film ick - it appears that the comics are not going to be original stories, instead they will be drawn from his unproduced screenplays - and as all good Gilliam fans know, this man collects unfulfilled projects like they're going out of fashion.

Which, sadly, they never will. Anyway... what does he have planned for us?

On-and-off since 1995, Gilliam has been working on the script for a sequel to one of his most beloved films. Don't worry, he wasn't brewing up Brazil Two: Lowry's Revenge, but was, in fact, working with Charles McKeown to set up Time Bandits 2.

As produced/written by Gilliam and directed by David Garfath, a camera op on the original, this sequel was to be about a net-head conspiracy-theorist 10 year old girl called Polly. Like Kevin in the first film, she meets up with a bunch of 'Tempus Fugitive' dwarf-thieves but this time round, though, there were to be girl Time Bandits too - including Mox, Strutter's Daughter.

The film's plot was to revolve around The Supreme Being's attempt to destroy the universe at the turn of the millennium, but as we're way past that now, some rejigging has taken place and, essentially, The Supreme Being is to be portrayed as a really shoddy timekeeper. A big reveal comes when we find out he isn't late for destroying the world in 2000 - but instead, in 1001, just a year after his first, failed attempt. Talk about tardy.

Apparently, according to informants, rumourmongers and (possibly) barefaced liars, members of the original Time Bandits band who could not feature in the proposed film - the actors having passed away - are to be reincorporated into the comic, though not in key roles, their characters having been promoted up the heavenly ranks.

As for the historical and mythical figures featured in the script, and supposedly now the comic, we will meet Joan of Arc, Julius Caesar, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, "The Supreme Opposite Number", monks having a mental breakdown as the first millennium approaches and fastidiously clean Pirates with OCD.

There's some talk about having this be ongoing if it does well enough from the opening issues. As the structure is episodic, extra chapters can be inserted indefinitely, before moving on to the the big wrap up as and when deemed creatively or financially necessary.

As yet, there's no writer attached to handle the full adaptation. I'll do it cheap, if they want.

Another old Gilliam script that is being lined up for comicification is his version of Theseus and the Minotaur. Both Michael Palin and Tony Grisoni took passes at the screenplay (almost 20 years apart!) - though, so far, Gilliam hasn't been entirely satisfied. The idea is novel - the story begins after the Minotaur has been slain and Theseus has attempted to head back to his normal life. Part historical Hard Days Night and part character study, the script questions why on earth Theseus would do any of the things he did - such as dumping the love of his life on a remote island and sailing away. Gilliam's interest in getting this comic published is purely to hook the Hollywood big-wigs - it could be the next 300 - and as such he's keen to find a top notch and big name creative team.

The Defective Detective is a long cherished project for Gilliam, acting on one level as a kind of therapeutic purging of his subconscious mind. The script that already exists is full to the brim with his trademark style of fantasy imagery, bending the mundane into the spectacular and playing with scale in an epic, dizzying way. A new draft of the screenplay is apparently underway right now - courtesy of the original draft's co-author, Richard LaGravanese - but Gilliam is so keen to sell the studios on this film he's apparently very, very eager to have a lush, large format graphic novel produced. Expect this to be an expensive all-in-one coffee table number, because Gilliam's certainly thinking in those terms, even if Virgin comics aren't. Gilliam and Dave McKean have already talked about this one.

As far as other possibilities go, well....? I know that Gilliam and Grisoni have also discussed a "new take" on Alice in Wonderland - though Tideland is already such a thing, really, so it's probably redundant. There's no sign of this coming into the comics deal - yet - but it does seem like a possible candidate if they're looking to boost the title count further.

Many of Gilliam's prospective projects are adaptations of novels, and as such, are not going to fall under this deal. What that means for their ultimate chances of production depends, I suppose, on how correct Mr. Gilliam is in his assumption that publishing a comic book is a quicker, easier way to get a film greenlit than writing a script.

1 comment:

Rich D said...

You can find a script review of TIME BANDITS 2 at http://www.filmbuffonline.com/ReadingRoom/TimeBanditsIIReview.htm