Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos and Moorcock’s Elric head for the big screen

HyperionJaded consumers and reviewers that we are at SFFMedia it’s not often that movie news gets the heart beating fast. Now and then it does, and it’s been racing since we learned of plans to bring Dan Simmons’ multi award winning Hyperion Cantos and Michael Moorcock’s Elric to the big screen. If you’re familiar with either of these icons of science fiction (Hyperion) and fantasy (Elric), you’ll probably understand our excitement.

Then again you might be terrified by the prospect of what Hollywood will do to them.

The Hugo Award winning Hyperion (1989) and its sequel Fall of Hyperion (1990) are intelligent, literary SF at its best. For sheer imaginative force and an abundance of literary and philosophical references Hyperion has few peers. Perhaps most notable of these nods to literature was Simmons use in Hyperion of the formal structure of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: in the far future a group of travellers are on pilgrimage to the Time Tombs of the planet Hyperion, where they will make a request of the mysterious and monstrous Shrike. The Shrike guards the Time Tombs and likes nothing more than to impale pilgrims on iron thorns on the Tree of Pain: only one pilgrim is ever spared and their request fulfilled. Within this framing story, each pilgrim tells their tale, adding something more to our understanding of why they have undertaken this seemingly suicidal pilgrimage. By the cliff-hanger ending of Hyperion we are left with more questions than answers, many of which are resolved in Fall of Hyperion. It is probably for this reason that the movie will attempt to cover both books.

The racing heart begins to slow, excitement starts to wane and the dread begins.

On its own, Hyperion contains enough material and story threads for multiple short movies. It’s not often I’d say this (and I’ll promptly wash my mouth out with soap) but this project might be better suited to a SciFi channel miniseries. How can compressing two complex novels into one two hour movie do the novels justice? Still, Dan Simmons is quietly confident and on his website he has this to say of the project:

“Yes, … there is a Hyperion movie in the works. It has been optioned by a top-notch studio, is slated to be directed by a top-name director, and already has the involvement of a top-flight movie star. Screenwriters have been attached to the project and a first draft screenplay is expected soon.

The reason the details haven’t appeared here on this website or elsewhere is that the studio and producers have the prerogative of announcing the deal before anyone else, and so far they haven’t chosen to do so…”

What we do “know” is that the studio in question is Warner Bros. and that all four novels of the Hyperion Cantos have been optioned. A release of 2010 has been indicated.
elricInformation about the Elric movie is as scarce as a sickly, albino anti-hero in the realms of epic fantasy. The subject of more than a dozen novels, Elric of Melniboné, aka The White Wolf, is a unique and outstanding creation. Tragic and blood-soaked, cruel and honourable, Elric is another incarnation of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion. Last ruler of a cruel and brutal race, he is a physically weak albino sorcerer-warrior sustained through magic and the unholy sustenance provided by Stormbringer, his soul-drinking black sword.

The Elric movie, also slated for a 2010 release, is to be produced by Chris and Paul Weitz’s Depth of Field production company. In Empire magazine, Chris Weitz (writer-director of The Golden Compass) had this to say of the project:

“Of the great classic fantasy series, it’s the one that hasn’t been done yet. My brother Paul and I liked those books growing up and we’ve met Michael Moorcock and he trusts us to take those books forward.”

In the tradition of (commercial) fantasy literature and film, word is that a trilogy will be in the offing. No director has been announced as yet, although Chris has said that “I’d really like it if my brother directed them.”Amongst other things, Paul Weitz is responsible for American Pie.

Would someone please call a paramedic. I think I’m going into cardiac arrest…

We’ll be following both of these projects closely, and when we know more, we’ll let you know.

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