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Rupert Wyatt Traveling Back to World War I with ‘Birdsong’

Written by on February 5, 2013 

The big franchise is out of your hands and the star of your potential third film is filling up their schedule — leaving yours both empty and, in that way, free. So, I say “hats off” to Rupert Wyatt for angling toward something different when other opportunities close left and right, with ScreenDaily learning the Planet of the Apes helmer is going to give The Great War its next onscreen depiction.

As a fan of the history which surrounds that heinous period, my ears have been perked. The project is Birdsong, a cinematic take on Sebastian Faulks‘ popular novel — previously adapted for the BBC with Eddie Redmayne (Les Misérables) leading — that Wyatt has already scripted and which Parallel Film Productions are supporting alongside Embankment. If it’s a traditional adaptation of the text (which we have little reason not to expect), the story will focus on Stephen Wraysford, a frontline soldier seeking comfort in the arms of Isabelle Azaire, a married French woman. When we’re not thinking back to Grand Illusion, lots of people die in the meantime.

But, really: depicting World War I in a concrete fashion requires you to go brutal — something many ridiculous criticisms of War Horse failed to miss — and, tenuous though this may seem, Wyatt was able to depict fairly brutal action in Rise of the Planet of the Apes; come to think of it, his strength for small spaces, as shown in The Escapist, could embolden the depiction of trench life. This doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed a great film, obviously — ignoring the fact that there are so many forgettable World War I pictures to be found — but I’m always willing to give them some chance, hoping it can capture that bizarre conflict adequately. Now, the ball’s in his court.

Would Birdsong be a good next step for the director?

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