Like it or not, Western Civilization's great epic poems are being adapted into testosterone-oozing mega productions. In the past few years we've watched Brad Pitt strut around in a big screen version of "The Iliad" and seen Dante's "Inferno" became a Blockbuster gore-fest of a video game. I guess we can only wonder how "Paradise Lost" lasted so long.
This past week, Variety reported that an adaptation of Milton's epic poem will hit theaters in 2012 under the direction of Alex Proyas, whose credits include The Crow, Dark City, Knowing and I, Robot.
You can expect Proyas to lend the sort of stylized treatment he gave "Dark City" to Milton's Hellscapes. You shouldn't expect any substantive philosophizing in the Garden of Eden. Variety reported, "the project tells the story of the epic war in heaven between archangels Michael and Lucifer, and will be crafted as an action vehicle that will include aerial warfare, possibly shot in 3D."
Well, at least it could be fun? One can't deny that, in parts, "Paradise Lost" is highly cinematic. Here are two excerpts from Book 1 of the poem that detail Satan's first awakening in Hell after he and his defeated army are cast down from Heaven.
At once, as far as Angels ken, he views
The dismal situation waste and wild.
A dungeon horrible, on all sides round,
As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames
No light; but rather darkness visible
Served only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all, but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed.
He spake: and to confirm his words, out-flew
Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs
Of mighty Cherubim; the sudden blaze
Far round illumin'd hell: highly they rag'd
Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms
Clash'd on thir sounding Shields the din of war,
Hurling defiance toward the vault of Heav'n.
A talented director like Proyas could do a lot with that. And while I doubt that Milton would approve of his poem -- which he hoped would help to "justifie the wayes of God to men" -- getting the Hollywood Blockbuster treatment, is it a crime to spend a little of our light watching angels battle in the skies? In 3D!? I must admit, part of me is looking forward to it.