Milty Goes to Hollywood

Over 300 years after its publication, John Milton’s Paradise Lost will be coming to a theater near you in 2007. No director or actors have been chosen for the project, but since there’s not a single part in the story that Tom Hanks would be perfect for, they’ll probably cast him as Satan. Forrest Gump: Prince of Darkness. I can see it now.

And now that I’ve gotten the requisite Tom Hanks commentary out of the way, I have to say that I find this whole idea to be a little bit… wrong. Though Milton’s epic could certainly lend itself to a fascinating screen treatment, I can’t help but think that Hollywood’s handling of epic material is somewhat, um, embarrassingly bad. You did see Troy, right? Admittedly, I love Paradise Lost and so I feel irrationally protective of it, but I don’t know if I trust Hollywood with theodicy. The article about this says that producers will aim to be faithful to Milton’s poem, but then, it also says that it has stunning depictions of angels falling from Hell, which is definitely not how that part of the story goes, so I don’t know if it’s to be trusted. I feel scared. Hold me.


Anyway, is this going to be another one of those books Hollywood should’ve left alone? Or do you think it will open the world of Milton’s classic to people who might never sit down with the poem?

10 Responses

  1. as Gump would say”Hell is
    as Gump would say

    “Hell is liike a box of choc-o-lats. You never knows who’s gonna melt or get ate’n.”

    But seriously… yeah, it’s hard to imagine such a movie coming out of Hollywood and not being bogus, but we’ll see. Don’t worry Jamelah, I’ll protect you.

  2. UmmmWhat was so bad about

    What was so bad about Troy?

    I mean, nice muscular bronzed young men with tight buns wrestling and fighting each other… really what more could a girl want?

  3. —–Well, Jam-a-loo, not

    Well, Jam-a-loo, not being an authentic critic of the movie scene (I try to wait for the video version to come out in the blue box at Blockbuster so I’ll have 5 days to watch it… but often miss seeing it anyway), I feel Hollywood is bound to try any movie to make a buck, as has been the history of films. It is one of the Bill of Rights — freedom to film anything.

    I will wince though, when I hear news of “Trout Fishing in America” coming to a theater near me. I will put on my big shoes and a tattered ‘revolt’ black t-shirt emblazened with the words “Hell no! I won’t go!” in bright crimson red, bordered with sparkling neo-hollywood rhinestones and boycott the mega-theatre that shows it. I figure that will stall most anxious film buffs from attending.

  4. This Kills MeThe fact that it
    This Kills Me

    The fact that it will be next to impossible to translate this into any kind of decent movie is secondary. What’s worse is that this will be how many people are introduced to classical literature? While I appreciate the fact that Hollywood can help expose writers, books, etc. for the most part, they butcher them in their translations. 9 times out of 10 it doesn’t make anyone want to pick up the book once they’ve seen the bad movie. That just depresses me.

  5. Arc AngelMs. Earle,Thank you
    Arc Angel

    Ms. Earle,

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the PL project. Unfortunately, I concur with your assessment of a looming debacle. In my keynote address last Tuesday, I nearly condemned the PL venture as a “vile defacement of all that is.” Mercifully, I did not (if only because it slipped my mind).

    In response to your plea, I would be honored to assume the role of executive producer.

    The remedy is simple: Guy Maddin will direct. Paradise Lost shall hone the arc lamp’s radiance as a silent black & white epic — a poignant quotation of F. W. Murnau’s Faust, without a hint of irony.

    Verily, this is the only treatment that makes sense. I’ll defer any specifics to Guy, but I expect we can deliver the completed film within 6 months for under $710,000 (with special effects limited to dry ice, piano wire, and cardboard miniatures). Projecting box office, cable licensing, and media sales, we should be able to trim our net loss to around $500,000.

    Thank you again for this opportunity to temper the apocalypse.


    M. Weber

  6. Nice muscular bronzed young
    Nice muscular bronzed young men with tight buns wrestling and fighting each other in a movie that didn’t suck? Maybe?

  7. I can’t imagine Trout Fishing
    I can’t imagine Trout Fishing in America as a movie, because the writing itself is so deliciously weird and good that the real pleasure is in getting lost in Brautigan’s delicious weird goodness. But it’ll probably happen someday all the same.

  8. Dear Mr. Weber,Thank you for
    Dear Mr. Weber,

    Thank you for your affirmative response. Providing apocalypse-tempering opportunities is what I live for. Among other things, like ending sentences with prepositions.

    In any case, I think this treatment will be most excellent, and as long as the net loss doesn’t exceed $600,000, then I think it will be fine. Of course, the use of cardboard miniatures is good thinking on your part; papier m

  9. I’ve re-written “The
    I’ve re-written “The Hokey-Pokey” so as to avoid ending in prepositions.

    You do the hokey-pokey,
    and you turn yourself around.
    That’s about which what it’s all.

    Glad I could help.

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