Monday, October 13, 2008

Ridley Scott To Direct 'The Forever War'

I was reading this morning when I came across this article breaking the news that director Ridley Scott would be returning to the sci-fi genre to helm Joe Haldeman's 1974 Hugo- and Nebula-award winning novel, "The Forever War." This will be Scott's first sci-fi film since directing Blade Runner in 1982. His previous sci-fi credit before that was as director of 1979's Alien.

Scott had originally sought to make TFW into a film 25 years ago after completing Blade Runner. Wow, I'm glad he didn't. I don't think TFW would have been as good a movie back then as BR turned out to be. But I *do* firmly believe TFW will be an awesome movie for the director to tackle now that he has both more experience and context in his favor (more on that in a moment).

Joe Haldeman is at the top of my short list of amazing sci-fi writers. His stories are so well-written and quick to read that he reminds me a lot of Robert A. Heinlein, especially the more militaristic aspects of his sci-fi creations. TFW was his first major breakthrough in 1974, though he had written several novels under a pseudonym before then. The novel is an allegory of the author's experiences in the Vietnam War, relating to the theme of a young, reluctant soldier returning home from war only to find that the world he once knew has changed drastically.

In TFW, however, the difference is that the young soldier is sent to a distant, intergalactic frontline where humanity is pitted in conflict against the mysterious Taurans. Using the time- and space-distorting properties of collapsars (stellar-mass black holes), humans can travel great distances across the universe. But because of the time dillation effects of such travel, while only a few days pass for the relativistic traveller, whole years go by back home on Earth. The conscripted protagonist is gone for only a year, but he returns to find that 27 years have passed on Earth. He is at once displaced and dismayed over the changes that have occurred since his departure, but more poignant are the friends and family he left behind who are now either deceased or greatly aged.

You can easily see how this theme applies to all wars, both real and imaginary. And in particular recent wars in America where soldiers return from the battlefield with an altered sense of reality and, sometimes, a twisted perspective on "civilian" life.

This is why I believe TFW will be a better film to be made now, rather than 25 years ago back in the 80s. Its story is more relative in today's terms, don't you think?

Anyway, I will be very interested to see the big-screen adaptation. Especially with such a cool veteran behind the lens like Ridley Scott. I mean, you can't ask for a better helmer than that!

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