Michael Mann to adapt Hue 1968 from Black Hawk Down author
Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Michael Mann and Michael De Luca have acquired the rights to Hue 1968, the upcoming new book from Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down). Hue 1968 is a kaleidoscopic work from personal accounts on all sides during the Tet Offensive, which was the turning point of American involvement in the Vietnam War. Five years in the writing, the book will be published by Grove Atlantic June 6th. Mann and De Luca envision releasing the ambitious project as an eight-to-ten-hour miniseries.
Huế, the cultural and historical capital, was the centerpiece of Hanoi’s 1968 Tet Offensive in which Hanoi sought to win the war in one stroke. Part military action and popular uprising, NVA infantry crossed mountains, completely undetected, to the outskirts of Huế while VC cadre infiltrated weapons and ordinance into the city. On January 31 at 2:30am they launched a surprise attack, overrunning the city except for two small military outposts.
The series will tell its story, as does the book, by experiencing the drama of Hue personally, intimately through the people on all sides of the conflict. Bowden’s kaleidoscopic storytelling through individual lives – contained under high-pressure in one place within 26 days in 1968 – is unlike anything else in recent non-fiction. A seemingly innocent schoolgirl on a bike in her white ao dai, turned hardened revolutionary when her sister was executed and she was tortured, pedals into Huế. Jim Coolican, a Marine captain from Carbondale, Pennsylvania – who’ll become a war hero – cannot convince his superiors Huế has been overrun by conventional infantry because that’s not supposed to be possible. An NVA infantryman, crossing mountain ranges in sandals, is a math teacher in a Hanoi middle school. LBJ in his pajamas wakes up Westmoreland, whom he had sleepover…
“Bowden’s achievement is in making “them” into us,” said Mann. “We are them. There are no background people; people abstracted into statistics, body counts. There is the sense that everybody is somebody, as each is in the reality of his or her own life. The brilliance of Bowden’s narrative, the achievement of interviewing hundreds of people on all sides and making their human stories his foundation, is why Huế, 1968 rises to the emotional power and universality of For Whom The Bell Tolls and All Quiet on the Western Front.”
Mann will direct multiple episodes and will produce alongside Michael De Luca. Johnny Pariseau with help oversee the project for De Luca Productions, as will Justine Suzanne Jones for Forward Pass, Inc.