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Upcoming Film Based On Arthur C. Clarke Story 131

Posted by Zonk
from the should-have-taken-the-skyhook dept.
SoyChemist writes "The Wired Science blog has production stills and a story about a side project that several Industrial Light and Magic employees have been working on. They are producing the short story Maelstrom II as an independent film. The entire thing was shot in front of a bluescreen, so all of the sets and props will be CGI. The lone actor, Chuck Marra, plays a guy that hitches a ride on an electromagnetically launched freight capsule from the moon to earth. When the nuclear reactor that powers the catapult fails, he is thrown into space, but not far enough to escape lunar gravity — leading to an Apollo 13 style rescue mission. The original story was written by Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey."
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Upcoming Film Based On Arthur C. Clarke Story

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Friday July 06, 2007 @12:25PM (#19768995) Journal

    He hopes to visit the great author at his home in Sri Lanka, unveil the completed film, and interview him about the future of humanity in space.
    I am reminded of a great quote I once heard about from him that would be quite applicable to the above interview:

    There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum. - Arthur C. Clarke
    I don't know why but my favorite Arthur C. Clarke novel would have to be Childhood's End [wikipedia.org]. In my opinion, there's something more poetic about the style he used for that than there is for any of his other work. Of course, I find myself sliding into more and more bizarre novels these days ... possibly the reason why I haven't seen this adapted into a movie is it's not fit for public consumption (or something that can doom a film in the states, Christian acceptance [wikipedia.org]).

    I love independent films and I've got high hopes for this--if anyone could do up an amazing indie film, it'd be ILM. More importantly, I hope this opens up the door a little more for indie films to debut in regular theatres but unfortunately, I'd have to travel pretty far to find a theatre playing something like this and I live in D.C.!

    That said, he is a great author though from what I've read about him as a man, he is rumoured to be a bit pompous--but you know, he is credited with being the first to conceive a geostationary communications satellite [wikipedia.org] so maybe he deserves to have a movie made for him and his ego stroked a little? :-)
    • >>That said, he is a great author though from what I've read about him as a man, he is rumoured to be a bit pompous

      Years ago he played himself in some stupid sci-fi movie. Something about how aliens sent an asteroid towards the earth to say "hello", and when we blew it up, they got pissed and sent thousands more. I think it was shot as live news coverage or something, but it sucked. After appearing in that, maybe he would have some humility.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CRCulver (715279)
      I lost respect for Clarke when he began to attach his name to low-quality projects that were mainly written by another writer--such as the Rama sequels written by Gentry Lee which were full of puerile and un-Clarke-like sex scenes--and when he began milking the 2001 universe. I mean, 2010 was alright, but 2061 was fluff and 3001 [amazon.com] was unspeakably awful and pointless (and, from the Amazon reviews, it looks like a lot of people agree).
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yes, I was also very disappointed in the Rama "sequels." You could definitely see that his hand was not involved with the writing. And what was with that Venus Prime series?

        He is a very good author, for the stories he's written. He shouldn't be attaching his name to puerile, character-driven trashy space operas.

        • by dbIII (701233)
          His older novels which I very much like normally weigh in at little over a hundred pages and pack in a lot of ideas. The recent things with his name on are big enough to be thrown to kill rats and only contain or or two ideas - whether that is due to a co-writer, ghost writer or editors that insist that is what sells now I do not know. Puerile, character-driven trashy space operas and fantasy sold by how many inches thick they are is what a lot of the book market is about now.
    • by ashitaka (27544) on Friday July 06, 2007 @01:33PM (#19770039) Homepage
      I don't know why but my favorite Arthur C. Clarke novel would have to be Childhood's End.

      Childhood's End would be good but unfortunately the "huge ships settle over all major cities on earth" imagery has been stolen by Independence Day. And yes, a highly-evolved race saying "religion is a common primitive response in dual-parent species" would not go down too well in modern America. (Maybe that wasn't in Childhood's End)

      A more timely adaptation might be The Fountains of Paradise. Space Elevators, yes.
      • The City and the Stars.

        That's my vote for the next film adaptation.
      • by IQgryn (1081397)

        A highly-evolved race saying "religion is a common primitive response in dual-parent species" would not go down too well in modern America. (Maybe that wasn't in Childhood's End)
        I'm pretty sure that was from Rendezvous with Rama.
        • by hidden (135234)
          Unlikely, given that they never meet the aliens in Rendezvous...
          It might be one of the later Rama books, but if so, its (probably) more of a Gentry Lee quote.
        • by khendron (225184)
          That theme is from "Fountains of Paradise", as part of the conversations with Starglider.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Childhood's End would be good but unfortunately the "huge ships settle over all major cities on earth" imagery has been stolen by Independence Day.

        I take it, then, you haven't seen the "V" miniseries from the early 80s? I always felt that "V" was the inspiration for that particular part of the "Independence Day" plot. Then again, I'm old enough that I actually watched "V" in first-run.
        • by ashitaka (27544)
          Oh yes. I saw "V". Lovely the way they extend their mouths to munch on guinea pigs.

          I don't think too many others remember a miniseries from the 80's and Will Smith kicked serious alien ass in Independence Day so if you show the same imagery now I think more will think "Ah, ripoff of ID4"
    • by Nethead (1563)
      Childhood's End is what started me on sci-fi back in 1972. Thank you again to my science class teacher.
    • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@nosPam.gmail.com> on Friday July 06, 2007 @03:06PM (#19771341) Homepage

      I don't know why but my favorite Arthur C. Clarke novel would have to be Childhood's End. ... possibly the reason why I haven't seen this adapted into a movie is it's not fit for public consumption (or something that can doom a film in the states, Christian acceptance).

      Or it could be simply that the story won't translate well into film.
       
      Among other things - it's really two or three connected stories told serially within one set of covers. This is the same problem that haunted Dune for decades (for example). Another problem is that Sir Arthur simply won't leave Sri Lanka, which renders collaboration difficult. Yet another problem is that 'popular' (film) sci-fi has tended for decades towards 'space opera' and lightweight sophmoric 'philosophy/morals' and steered away from deep issues and complex tales. (LOTR could safely (partially) ignore the issue of complexity because that series has what Sir Arthur lacks, a large and vocal fanbase.)
       
      And the issue of fanbase may be the real key - for whatever reason, among the Masters of SF, Sir Arthur remains largely obscure. He's known for 2001, but many fen know little more than that. He simply isn't read very much. (This may be because his main output over the last twenty years has been a series of simply wretched collaborations.)
    • by xtracto (837672) on Friday July 06, 2007 @04:09PM (#19772247) Journal
      Personally I prefer Mr. Isaac Asimov, his Robot short stories (some of them in the I, Robot book), his Foundation Trilogy and other books are the ones that made me an avid reader. Oh, and he invented (coined?) the term "Robotics".

      Oh and Asimov and Clarke used to play saying each that the other was a better Science Fiction writer.

      Of course, I believe Mr. Clarke is more popular.
      • That would be Dr. Issac Asimov. Also, according to the usual source, "It is a mark of the friendship and respect accorded Asimov by Arthur C. Clarke that the so-called "Asimov-Clarke Treaty of Park Avenue", put together as they shared a cab ride along Park Avenue in New York, stated that Asimov was required to insist that Clarke was the best science fiction writer in the world (reserving second best for himself), while Clarke was required to insist that Asimov was the best science writer in the world (reser
    • by Wavicle (181176)
      For all interested parties, there is more info on the Maelstrom II short movie here:

      http://home.comcast.net/~jeroen-lapre/ArthurCClark e/MaelstromII/MaelstromII.html [comcast.net]
    • by Evil Pete (73279)

      Childhood's End would make a stunning movie ... if it is filmable. In spite of the small number of pages it is pretty epic. And it is perhaps too deep for Hollywood to take on without stuffing up badly. A lot of Clarke's stories went for the final bitter twist of fate: "The Star", "9 Billion Names of God", the one about the one man in a spacesuit outwitting an space cruiser, etc. CE is the same, Karellen's [wikipedia.org] final thoughts about the status of the Overlords as compared to Humans is the exact reverse of the im

  • Who? (Score:5, Funny)

    by glwtta (532858) on Friday July 06, 2007 @12:35PM (#19769161) Homepage
    The original story was written by Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    Oh, that Arthur C. Clarke.
    • Re:Who? (Score:5, Funny)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Friday July 06, 2007 @12:59PM (#19769501)

      The original story was written by Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

      Oh, that Arthur C. Clarke.

      Remember, any sufficiently advanced sarcasm is indistinguishable from offtopic.
      • by ashitaka (27544)
        Remember, any sufficiently advanced sarcasm is indistinguishable from offtopic.

        OK, I seriously Laughed Out Loud. This should go down in the annals of Slashdot history as one the The Great Posts.

        Thank you for making my day.
        • Thanks. I just couldn't beleive that somebody modded the GGP "offtopic".
          • I used to think "off-topic" got used a lot when someone didn't get a reference in a joke, but I'm starting to think there are a fair number of people that just don't like jokes period.

            • For a forum with "It's funny laugh" headlines and "funny" moderations, we should expect a fair number of jokes (hopefully in good taste).

              Those who can't stand them can go look elsewhere.

              (although we do seem to be off topic now... hmmm... )
      • by vorlich (972710)
        The benefits of a classical education. Ah, those heady days of slash/hilarity.
        Go to the top of the class RANDOMLUSER(804576), we are unworthy. Outstanding.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by whyde (123448)

        Remember, any sufficiently advanced sarcasm is indistinguishable from offtopic.

        I thought it was, "Any sufficiently advanced ignorance is indistinguishable from stupidity."

        Other notable variations include:

        Clarke's Third Law: prov. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

        Any sufficiently reliable magic is indistinguishable from technology.

        Any sufficiently nice person is indistinguishable from someone who likes you.

        Any sufficiently advanced communication technology is indistinguish

        • Remember, any sufficiently advanced sarcasm is indistinguishable from offtopic.

          Other notable variations include:

          Clarke's Third Law: prov. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

          --clip--

          Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
          Don't forget one of the classics: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.
    • Norris? I thought I saw his name. Wrong Chuck.

      In space, Chuck Norris doesn't sleep. He moves solar winds and kicks asteroids.
  • Rendezvous with Rama (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nacturation (646836) <[nacturation] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday July 06, 2007 @12:37PM (#19769183) Journal
    I'm still waiting for Rendezvous with Rama to come out. They used to have some info up at the domain name [rendezvouswithrama.com], which is registered by Revelations Entertainment and was supposed to be sponsored by Intel. If the IMDB page [imdb.com] is accurate, this might be coming out in a few years... but it's been simmering for about a decade so who knows how accurate that is.
     
    • by raddan (519638) on Friday July 06, 2007 @01:08PM (#19769635)
      If someone actually does do Rendezvous with Rama, they'd better do it right. The thing about that book-- and the thing that has always made me love Clarke's writing-- is that it captures the wonder and fear in an almost palpable way. But the fear part is hard for movie people to get right. It's the fear of the unknown. Not the fear of some big, drooling monster like Hollywood loves to put in the films. Rendezvous with Rama captured the weirdness of an alien species, and to my knowledge, Arthur C. Clarke is the only writer, next to Stanislaw Lem, who toys with the idea that actually communicating with aliens may not be possible.

      Kubrick has made one of the only true sci-fi films in my mind-- 2001: A Space Odyssey. Rama would have to do something similar. Definitely a hard sell, but those kinds of films have staying power.
      • by Cctoide (923843)
        I wish I had mod points right now. This is exactly what made me love the book. The game was great at capturing this, which made it unusually good for a book adaptation, IMO.
      • ...who toys with the idea that actually communicating with aliens may not be possible.
        until Rama II when the humans were given a large talking owl with which to communicate. Ya know, because people find owls to be soothing creatures. j/k I loved the whole series of books, though the sequels are definitely more hollywood-friendly.
        • by raddan (519638)
          Oh, no kidding. But considering that Clarke himself didn't really write it, I basically think of it as a different story. Or fan fiction. Same deal with the Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson crap. The only "collaboration" I've enjoyed so far was Asimov/Silverberg's novel version of Nightfall.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Scarblac (122480)

        Rendezvous with Rama captured the weirdness of an alien species, and to my knowledge, Arthur C. Clarke is the only writer, next to Stanislaw Lem, who toys with the idea that actually communicating with aliens may not be possible.

        That description reminds me of _Roadside Picnic_ by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. Recommended reading.

      • The original book was good, but the later ones were stupid. "Angels did it", is pretty lame for a Science Fiction author.
        • by TeknoHog (164938)

          The original book was good, but the later ones were stupid. "Angels did it", is pretty lame for a Science Fiction author.

          I disagree, if only for the fact that the ultimate explanation was left open. There was the religious impression given to the one deeply religious guy, and other characters did their own interpretations.

          "Angels did it" sounds more like the two Rama novels written by Gentry Lee alone, after the proper Rama series. They were IMHO surprisingly bad, considering how much Lee seemed to have improved Clarke's writing in their collaboration novels.

      • by TeknoHog (164938)

        If someone actually does do Rendezvous with Rama, they'd better do it right. The thing about that book-- and the thing that has always made me love Clarke's writing-- is that it captures the wonder and fear in an almost palpable way. But the fear part is hard for movie people to get right. It's the fear of the unknown. Not the fear of some big, drooling monster like Hollywood loves to put in the films. Rendezvous with Rama captured the weirdness of an alien species, and to my knowledge, Arthur C. Clarke is the only writer, next to Stanislaw Lem, who toys with the idea that actually communicating with aliens may not be possible.

        Somehow I'm reminded of the movie Cube, which did the fear of the unknown with people lost in an 'alien' structure pretty well.

    • by Tmack (593755)
      Yeh, I had my hopes up for a while after they announced the movie would be made... but it seems to have faded away and the last news I read about it didnt sound too promising.

      Now movies (or series of movies) I would really like to see would be based on Ring World, or the Mars trilogy. Actually, take almost any of the Known Space stories and adapt it to a movie.

      Tm

      • by vorlich (972710)
        It would make a damn fine movie as it stands, but perhaps the French would have to do it! Jean-Jacques Beineix or Luc Bresson.
        Ringworld was optioned for a movie and - allegedly - by the Sci-Fi channel.
        The various screenplay treatments of Ringworld were unadulterated dog food and I don't think the websites that used to have them, exist anymore - probably a good thing.
        Tanj!
    • by Fastolfe (1470)
      I loved these stories. My greatest fear is that with such lackluster interest from the major studios so far, when it finally does get made, it'll be done on a low budget and end up disappointing.
    • by ashitaka (27544)
      Morgan Freeman owns the rights. He wants to have a major part in the film. But hey, Morgan, you're getting on in years. Better do it soon.
    • Rama is such a great book, but it reminds me too much of the original Star Trek movie, which was slow and plodding. The movie could be absolutely breathtaking, as I imagine if done right, it would. But at the same time, be very boring. Clarke wasn't really interested in centering his stories around characters, which movies generally are. I loved the entire 2001 series, but fell asleep during the movie.
    • by cronot (530669)
      Hmm. But would it sell? I've only read Rama a few months ago, and while the geek in me loved it for all the cool ideas and concepts it has, I was a little disappointed by the anti-climax of how the story ends - without providing further insight on the purpose of the Ramans and what happened to them. I know that are sequels, but I won't bother reading them since from what I've heard almost unanimously, they are worthless - they deviate too much from the direction and style of Arthur C. Clarke, since it is mo
      • by aitala (111068)
        The 'end' of Rama does present certain issues... its not the most cinematic book ever written..

        Dr E
      • by labyrinth (65992)
        For me, the fact that there was no "explanation" was exactly what made the original Rama book so good.

        I did read the sequels, but I did not like them much- for me they were the kind of book I throw across the room in disgust, but then I can not help myself picking it up again later (late Heinlein has the same effect on me)
        • by aitala (111068)
          The sequel(s) were bad - I only made it through Rama 2.

          But the problem with the original is the lack of serious action...in terms of creating a movie. Most of the interesting bits happen between people's ears which is kinda hard to film...

          Dr E

    • As long as they refrained from making any sequels. I found "Rendezvous with Rama" to be one of the most compelling science fiction stories ever. It was well written and had interesting characters you could empathize with and root for. It also had a great plot with realistic and entertaining challenges for the characters to overcome. The sequels were a huge letdown. Instead of being about exploring this mysterious alien craft and protecting it from hasty actions by planetary governments, the second book
    • by aitala (111068)
      You may get your wish sometime soon....

      Dr E

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday July 06, 2007 @12:41PM (#19769259) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone else see this as a lose-lose for these budding filmmakers? If the project is a success, ILM will own any distribution rights to it, since it was made with company resources. Meanwhile, these guys spent undoubtedly countless nights and weekends working on it, without pay. What will they have to show for it but a spot in the credits?
    • Does anyone else see this as a lose-lose for these budding filmmakers? If the project is a success, ILM will own any distribution rights to it, since it was made with company resources. Meanwhile, these guys spent undoubtedly countless nights and weekends working on it, without pay. What will they have to show for it but a spot in the credits?

      Kinda reminds me of a certain operating system where people invest countless hours for no pay and other companies rake in the money from it.

      • by jeffmeden (135043)
        In a way, yes, but in this case it's like working on a FOSS project, only to have your employer claim ownership and slap a copyright on every last bit of source code. A situation even the most generous of programmers doesn't want to see happen to his/her work.
    • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday July 06, 2007 @12:51PM (#19769389) Homepage Journal
      Sounds more like a win-win to me. If it's not a commercial success, these guys will still have a completed project to add to their demo reels and resumes, which didn't cost anything financially. If it is a commercial success, they'll have made a ton of money for ILM. ILM is known for being among the coolest places to work in the FX industry, and it will probably get them some nice bonuses and brownie points, as well as the elusive prize of a successful film for their resumes and demo reels.
    • No. They are doing it for the love of it. When it is done and they present to Arthur C. Clarke, I imagine it will far outweigh any consideration of credit or money.
      • by eln (21727) *
        Even if you do something for the love of it, if someone else comes in and makes millions of dollars off of it, and gives you nothing, it's bound to burn a little.
        • by count0 (28810)
          The chances of someone making millions of dollars off of an obscure Clarke short are slim-to-none....this is about establishing credibility in the industry, not making money.
    • by 3D Monkey (808934)
      No this is completely win-win for Jeroen (producer/director) and his crew. ILM is very cool about this sort of thing. He will be able to show the film at festivals and get notoriety (i.e. Slashdot and Wired) to help get him investors and propel the excitement forward. In order to become a noticed force in the entertainment industry you HAVE to put in countless hours outside of your normal work and expect that money will follow in time. However, working for ILM as your daily grind is fairly lucrative. Jeroen
  • lol (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Friday July 06, 2007 @12:46PM (#19769309)
    The entire thing was shot in front of a bluescreen

          As if I really care which OS they used...

          oh, wait...
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
      "Offtopic". Fucking mods. That was funny. I'm offtopic.
      • Re:lol (Score:5, Funny)

        by Dunbal (464142) on Friday July 06, 2007 @01:37PM (#19770077)
        I'm used to it. It's the puppies. I get a lot less mod points since I got the sig about the puppies. I guess I'll have to bump it up to eight.
        • by vorlich (972710)
          The puppies gag always makes me laugh. Seven is such a quality number. I get slash modded ever since I put a rather entertaining quote from the bible in my profile. I guess people are taking it seriously! Funniest part was - I read it first on slashdot.
  • by donour (445617) <donour@@@cs...uchicago...edu> on Friday July 06, 2007 @01:21PM (#19769865) Homepage
    There was no rescue for Apollo 13. They had to figure out how to get home safely just by following the directions of the crew on the ground. Thank goodness, they had Tom Hanks. :-p
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Don Sample (57699)
      And if they follow the Clarke story, that's what happens in this movie too. The guy has to follow the instructions on how to save himself that he gets from the folks on the ground.
    • And if Tom had his ball with him, he would have done it in half the time.
  • by AaronLawrence (600990) * on Friday July 06, 2007 @01:23PM (#19769887)
    The words entire thing was shot in front of a bluescreen don't exactly fill me with confidence these days. In fact I'd say that the record for such movies is poor, only Sin City really having managed to avoid being bland and dull. Dear filmmakers: yes CGI can save you money, and show you new interesting visions, but you STILL HAVE TO WORK ON THE BASICS like making convincing characters and interactions between them ... and actors find it hard to produce that if you make them work in front of a bluescreen.
    • One of the biggest problems with blue-screens is the tendency in films (like Skycaptain and the World of Tomorrow) to film actors in the same scene at different times and just composite them together. In a film with only one human actor, this won't be a problem. The other issue is the actors not interacting with things they can't see correctly (pretty much anything in the new Star Wars films). This could still be a problem, but the fact the whole film is set in a fairly small craft should alleviate it so
    • As Gwyneth Paltrow said while working on Sky Captain, an all blue screen job, "I get to go home at night and sleep in my own bed." This after filming the scene where they're in a blizzard on a mountain at night. The mountain is CG, the blizzard is CG, and the weather is LA. Beats having to go on location to Outer Nowhere.

      • Well, good for Gwyneth Paltrow. Is she a good enough actress to convince me she's in the freezing cold if she's being filmed in a climate-controlled studio in L.A.?
        • by Animats (122034)

          Well, good for Gwyneth Paltrow. Is she a good enough actress to convince me she's in the freezing cold if she's being filmed in a climate-controlled studio in L.A.?

          Yes. But in the scene where she's dodging the giant walking robots, her movements look wrong, because, of course, she's responding to something that isn't there during filming. That's a big hassle for actors doing blue screen work - weak cues.

          Sometimes a live actor can be put in the scene to play some character that will be inserted as a

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            It's interesting--animation and special effects used to be completely different techniques, but now the only difference is that one is supposed to look like animation and one is supposed to look realistic. Wouldn't it be possible to shoot Gwyneth's performance against greenscreen and then do the CGI specifically to fit her performance? Or would it perhaps be too time-consuming and expensive to go to that level of detail?
        • Not only that, but she's also brave enough to dress up as a fat woman in a controlled, studio setting and pretend to be obese for an 2/3s of an entire 90-minute film!
  • lone actor? (Score:3, Funny)

    by phrostie (121428) on Friday July 06, 2007 @02:31PM (#19770853)
    how much dialoge can you have in a movie with only one actor?

    not much.

    can too

    can not

    can too

    can not

    can

    can't

    can

    can't

    • by YT (79213)
      Actually if you have read the story, then you'll know there is more then just the actor. There is the moon base and if I remember correctly a shuttle craft that tries to rescue him. So yes it's mainly centered on just this lone guy in a cargo pod, but there are other people he will be talking to.

      YT
  • by ishmalius (153450) on Friday July 06, 2007 @02:48PM (#19771073)
    With modern (hyper)sensitivities, ecologists will likely decry the damage to the lunar landscape.
  • I sold the domain rendezvouswithrama.com 7 years ago to a production company that involved Morgan Freeman partnering with Intel to create a movie version of Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama ... nothing's ever come of it.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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