As one would expect from the ever audacious, thoughtful filmmaker, there are more than a few projects Stanley Kubrick developed but never brought to the screen. Though efforts have been made in the past to bring his unfinished works to life, namely through Steven Spielberg‘s A.I. Artificial Intelligence or the multiple rumors over the years to satisfy his vision of Napoleon in the form of a film or mini-series, most were put to rest with the filmmaker back in 1999.
But apparently one of his earliest unmade screenplays — 1956’s The Downslope — was dusted off the shelves somewhere in Hollywood recently, and director Marc Forster (World War Z) has decided to take a stab at bringing Kubrick’s lost script to the screen. And because it’s Hollywood, it’ll be not just one film but an entire trilogy. Forster’s only attached to direct the first, but plans to produce all three installments, with no word yet on who’ll make the other two films or when they plan to gear the first into production.
The screenplay, written after Fear and Desire but prior to the filmmaker directing Paths of Glory, is a “sweeping, historical action-drama” continuing Kubrick’s war theme at the time, yet naturally was an “anti-war story.” It focused on a series of bitter, strategic Civil War battles in the Shenandoah Valley between Confederate Colonel John Singleton Mosby, a.k.a. The Gray Ghost, and Union General George Armstrong Custer.
The cycle of war brought on between the two was the primary focus of Kubrick’s one-film story. The trilogy, however, is set to expand beyond this, as it’ll also journey west and tell of post-war Americans settling into the new frontier. The following films will see the characters deliver the country’s lofty ambitions and dreams through the Manifest Destiny. Right holders Phil Hobbs (Full Metal Jacket) and Steve Lanning also serve as producers on the new trilogy, after being initiated by fellow producer Lauren Selig (Everest). Barry Levine and ReneÃ© Wolfe, the latter working with Forster already on his forthcoming All I See Is You, are also billed as producers.
The biggest difference between this and A.I. is that Kubrick directly gave his blessing to Spielberg to make the 2001 film before he passed. He tried to develop it for decades through various screenwriters, and for all the faults the movie had, it’s pretty respectful to the director’s vision of the project. This first installment will likely also stay true to the filmmaker’s initial vision, but at the same time, Forster’s style doesn’t exactly resemble Kubrick’s. He doesn’t quite have the same, shall we say, prestige as the late director. That’s not to say he can’t put together a good film, though, and hopefully they can find a way to stay true to the feature Kubrick wanted to make and also bring something worthy of his talents to the screen.
After all, this is a project Kubrick spent a copious amount of time envisioning. He studied, developed and wrote the story for Downslope for years, as he usually does, and went as far as to create maps and notes on how he’d shoot the eventual movie. Kubrick also developed the screenplay with Civil War historian Shelby Foote to make sure it was as historically accurate as he could make it. Hopefully these are all things Forster and his team don’t ignore when they make their movies. With Kubrick’s family supposedly giving their blessing on this upcoming project, at least the filmmakers took the baby steps of adhering to the filmmaker’s legacy. [Deadline]