With the third Transformers film, Dark of the Moon, rumbling toward us like that meteor in Armageddon (only without Bruce Willis and his pals to stop it), /Film reports that another project with the same title is in development.
The other Dark of the Moon has a long, deeply weird history: playwright Howard Richardson adapted a centuries old European folk song, “The Ballad of Barbara Allen” into an Appalachian-set musical. The plot centers around a young witch-boy (think of the Banjo Boy on the porch in Deliverance, though evidently slightly less inbred) who falls in love with a human girl and wants to become human.
Richardson’s play was first staged at the University of Iowa in 1942 under the title Barbara Allen. Richardson’s friend and cousin William Berney rewrote it as Dark of the Moon, and it premiered at the 46th Street Theatre in New York City on March 14, 1945. Paul Newman was among the actors who played John the witch-boy during its initial run.
This quote was taken from a New York Times review of a rare revival of Dark of the Moon:
In its evolution through numerous script changes, a presumably simple folk fable in blank verse became bogged down by an allegorical density that could not be accommodated by the play’s top-heavy construction. It is wan, lightweight and drawn out in a first act that almost comes undone, and overdrawn in the second, which gets down to serious business, including the birth and the burning of a witch child, a frenzied revival scene and a taunting, tragically intended resolution.
Sounds awesome, actually. The script may have been shaky, but the bizarro content reminds me of Robert Wilson‘s The Black Rider, a surreal musical written by William S. Burroughs based on a German folk tale, with songs by Tom Waits.
If this project continues its development, the name will almost certainly change… unless Dreamworks and Paramount decide to scrap the subtitle of their third cash-cow for fear of being overshadowed by a small, intriguing film like this. Because as Nicole LaPort pointed out in her Dreamworks chronicle The Men Who Would Be King, those companies are artist-friendly and easily intimidated and – wait, no… nevermind.
This Dark of the Moon sounds like a good ol’ backwoods, blood and sex-filled romp. I’d rather see that than another two and a half hours of giant robots and Shia LaBeouf.
How does this wild, Appalachian-musical with witch-boys sound to you? Would you rather see this or Transformers 3?
Since any New York City cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not […]
Latest posts from The Film Stage