For those of us currently living under a rock in a secluded place far away from society it may come as a surprise that James Cameron is currently negotiating with Tom Cruise to play the lead in an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s novella At the Mountains of Madness, directed by Guillermo del Toro. Take a moment to think over that last sentence. Meditate on it like a mantra until you fully absorb the awesomeness it entails. The most epic of Lovecraft’s works, directed by the most epic of modern directors. In 3d!
Now, some of you will be thinking “Tom Cruise… Isn’t that a bit of a strange choice?” I know my initial reaction was similar. Yet I would like to take a moment to think on the matter. Apart from being a very popular actor who is likely to draw the crowd on his name alone, I would like to point out that his particular acting style is well suited to a Lovecraftian protagonist. Many of them have few or no details provided of their life, background or personality. They are empty and devoid of individualism. In a literary frame of reference, this is usually considered a Bad Thing. In Lovecraft’s work, however, it has a beneficial effect. Keeping the protagonist non-descript allows the reader to experience the horror virtually first-hand. Instead of interpreting the experience through the veil of the protagonists’ past experiences and idiosyncrasies, the reader comes to the events narrated with nothing but their own frame of reference in mind, allowing the horror to challenge the reader’s conceptions of reality directly. Those who would uncharitably accuse Tom Cruise of wooden performances will find that particular style well suited to a Lovecraftian tale. This, of course, is me joking in a long-winded, round-about way. Although I am a manly male, fitting nerdly pursuits between expeditions to the frozen north in search of polar bears to wrestle and engaging in chest-hair growing competitions, I found myself letting out a little squee when I first heard the news. The most recent interview with James Cameron, in which Cruise’s interest was reaffirmed, may be seen at MTV’s website.
The draft script has been leaked online – go to The Temple of Ghoul to see a review. Although the initial draft seemed to turn Lovecraft’s story into a monster-fest action flick, I am heartened by the information that del Toro and Cameron are re-writing the script. Hopefully they will maintain more of the flavour of the original story.
For those of you who have not yet read this awesome story, and would still like to be able to proclaim loudly in the movie theatre “The book was better!” it can be found in the collection of Project Gutenberg.