It feels like every type of pre-existing story has been adapted for the medium of film — even albums. It’s almost always concept albums — i.e., ones that have a story — getting the treatment, with a few notable examples being The Who‘s Tommy & Quadrophenia, and my favorite, The Wall. A movie based on Green Day‘s American Idiot is currently in the works, just as Trent Reznor is attempting to get his Year Zero on HBO as a mini-series, after feature plans didn’t work out.
Danger Mouse is the latest musician to have one of his works make it to the screen, with Variety telling us of a film that will use his recent album, Rome, as the “underpinning” for an adaptation of Alden Bell‘s The Reapers Are the Angels. The latter follows “a girl born into a post-apocalyptic world who must survive by her wits while finding moments of simple joy.” Kind of an unexpected combination; although Danger Mouse and producer Daniele Luppi created it as “a sort of soundtrack to a film that didn’t exist,” the music was inspired by the scores for Spaghetti Westerns, with past Ennio Morricone collaborators even getting involved. Then again, Quentin Tarantino has used the master composer’s pieces to incredible effect in Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds.
The man who will have to follow in Tarantino‘s footsteps is Chris Milk, who is attached to helm the project. A majority of his directorial credits are in fact for music-related projects, most notably the video for Kanye West‘s “Jesus Walks,” and The Wilderness Downtown for Arcade Fire, the latter of which is an amazing multimedia project that earned an advertising award at Cannes this year.
Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures is producing and financing; Anthony Bregman of Likely Story will also produce. The two called him “perhaps the most innovative creative voice working in any art form today,” in addition to noting that the album “criss-crosses at least a dozen of them, including music, animation, live performance, film, web, literature, music videos, and graphic novels.” Looks like this movie won’t be the only thing coming out of the album.
Being unfamiliar with both the music and novel at hand leaves me oblivious as to what this could possibly bring, but I do like the sound of it. Using an album as the background and influence for a film worked perfectly for Milk‘s prior collaborators this year — although this will be a smidgen different, since it’s based on something else. Room for experimentation is certainly there, too, in terms of how songs and scenes are combined or interpreted, and I’ll be willing to find out where they take all this.
You can read a synopsis of the book below, thanks to Amazon:
“Born into a crumbling society plagued by zombies, all 15-year-old Temple knows is to kill or be killed. When she is assaulted at a safe house, she murders her human attacker, Abraham Todd, and runs from his vengeful brother, Moses. Temple soon acquires a traveling partner, a slow mute by the name of Maury, and begrudgingly takes responsibility for his care, remembering a young boy she swore to protect but couldn’t save. Fleeing Moses, the “meatskins,” and her own battered conscience, Temple still finds moments of simple joy in the brutal world.”
Have you read the novel or listened to the album? If the answer to both is “yes,” how could they work together?