I followed the development of the Paradise Lost film off and on for a while. I found it interesting that of all the material out there that can (and probably should) be made into a film they’d choose this. For some reason Hollywood attempts to take epic pieces of ancient literature and squeezes it into a palatable construct hoping people will shell over their hard earned money to see it. There are times it has worked like with 300 and Romeo & Juliet. Other times it has failed miserably like with Beowulf. I love that epic poem about Grendel and the man with very strong hands. I have yet to watch it. From what I heard it I spared myself a few hours of my life.
When the topsy-turvy world of development hell finally decided to pass on Paradise Lost I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Part of me waited for the day when producers would throw up their arms in frustration. I am only left to wonder why it took them so long to finally throw in the towel. I am convinced the movie would have been a colossal flop. Have you read Paradise Lost? I have and I can safely tell you that only James Joyc’s Ulysses put me through more pain. In truth I am still not entirely sure what I read. It is slow and plodding in nature. Yet you are bombarded with imagery like a rapid fire machine gun. In spite of the time you are given to get through the whole thing there is no space to breath to take it all in. It would be next to impossible to come up with a proper script while maintaining the over all themes. How many scripts did they ultimately go through before it got shelved? I give anyone credit for at least trying to give it a go.
I do not know of anyone who has read this book outside of a high level college literature course. The story is completely foreign to most people at best. For the most part it is a tale that is lost in another world that may as well be some place other than earth. At least with Romeo and Juliet if you spent any time in high school odds are you have a general idea as to the plot.
Another thing that confused me was who was the intended audience? Fantasy fans may have enjoyed it, but there isn’t much action to keep them drawn in. This movie had the potential to be way too long with too little action to keep them entertained. Maybe church going folks will line up to see it? Perhaps. I remember people from my church going to see Passion Of The Christ multiple times. And the merchandising! That is a whole other issue. No, I don’t think they will get into it either. In spite of its religious leanings the story is too confusing and filled with too much dark imagery to attract them. Forget the general public. They may as well go to school. For the same reason people avoided Beowulf they would be more likely skip this happy go lucky flick. In short, I do not know who they could have possibly marketed this for. Even Bradley Cooper’s dreamy smile wouldn’t have saved them from loosing millions in revenue.
I can’t say if I enjoyed Paradise Lost or not. It was too confusing for my short attention span. I doubt a Hollywood screenwriter would have had any more luck than I did. This is one of the rare times where their grasp far extended their reach, but they were smart to cut their losses early. Unless they were willing to greatly cut apart the more complicated parts they maybe could have salvaged it. Where do they begin? I don’t know. Maybe someone will eventually figure it out or give it another go. For now I am sure the script sits tucked away in development purgatory waiting for when it can see the light of day.