Trisha’s Take: Five real-life stories that would make great original movies

Inset image by gingerpig2000 @ Flickr

One of the things I’ve noticed while covering movie news for this site is that there are an awful lot of remakes and adaptations of existing movies, plays, and TV series that are being put into production, and it seems like it’s happening more and more often. In fact, it’s happening so often that I almost feel as if this kind of news deserves its own category tag.

Which is why I really appreciated this story from the Hollywood Reporter’s Risky Business blog from last week, wherein Jay A. Fernandez profiled the subject of one of screenwriter Adam Mazer’s recent true-life adaptation projects, Hal Berger.

With a working title of Snatched, Berger’s story is that he was married to a woman who was from South Africa who refused to return to the U.S. from that country with their son and after Berger got him back, she used a boyfriend and some fake passports to re-take her son from his school. And then, things got intense, as reported by the Huffington Post:

While living in South Africa for eight months to recover his son, Mr. Berger was faced with two false arrests attempts, several death threats, was ultimately imprisoned while entering the country from Namibia, and stripped of his human rights to see his child for months at a time.

While I disagree with Fernandez’s description of Berger as a “decidedly regular guy,” you have to admit that the story’s quite fascinating—which begs the question: What other real-life stories are out there that would make awesome movies?

I’m so glad you asked.

Hatshepsut
After the death of her father, favored daughter Princess Hatshepsut begins to realize that she could possibly become the sole ruler of Egypt.

My fascination for the story of the only female pharaoh of ancient Egypt (whoops, spoilers) began with my first boyfriend who painted a rather evocative image of her in both words and pencil when he was studying her for one of his art classes.

There weren’t any wars conducted during her lifetime so I don’t see this containing any Ten Commandments-style epic scenes, but I see there being lots of intrigue and clashes amongst the other political factions that wanted her nephew Tutmose III to attain a full leadership. Bonus to this would be a subplot featuring the secret romance between her and her most trusted advisor.

The Soldier Bear
After being found in the foothills of Iran, the men of the Second Polish Transport Company aren’t sure what to do with their pet brown bear cub. Luckily, Wojtek has his own idea about what he can do for his new friends.

The author of its Badass of the Week profile says, “The idea of a fucking alcoholic Nazi-fighting bear is so awesome that you’d think it was something out of a bizarre cartoon or a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie” and why not, I say? It would be like Born Free, except with less fluffy-happy-bunny time and more awesome Saving Private Ryan action, perhaps with some M.A.S.H or Catch-22-style hijinks as well.

Young Justice
When some kids reach the age of 15, they look forward to getting a permit to drive a car. All he ever wanted was a decent day’s wage—and what he did to get it would rock a nation to its very core.

The screenwriter looking to adapt this story should wait a few years as the murder of South African white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche (his last name means “white land” in French) by an unnamed minor is still being investigated. Hell, in the 16 hours since the time I first started drafting this article, the AP article I linked was fleshed out with much more detail.

Still, in a world where so many people are looking at the election of a black man to the highest government honor in the U.S. as a sign that racism is over, for this kind of treatment and resulting hatred and strife to still be continuing both shocks and appalls me—and makes me wonder how Kathryn Bigelow feels about making movies about post-apartheid South Africa.

Spacewomen of the Soyuz
Friends since childhood, Dorothy, Stephanie, Naoko and Tracy have endured a rigorous training regimen and numerous hardships in order to become the first all-female deep space exploration party and the commanders of the starship Soyuz. However, what awaits them in the darkest reaches will test and try their very souls.

This is probably the most far-fetched and the most deserving of the title credit “Inspired by a true story,” but when I learned that real-life astronauts Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson, Naoko Yamazaki and Tracy Caldwell Dyson have broken the record for the most number of women who are in orbit around the Earth after this past week’s shuttle launch, I couldn’t help but think that it was a cool time to be a woman of science.

I was turning 9 at the time of the Challenger disaster of January 1986 and like many kids that year, I was watching the launch live in my elementary school classroom. My teacher Ms. Clyde (later, Caitlin) had been one of the finalists for the inaugural Teacher in Space program, but Christa McAuliffe just happened to beat her out, which is why we were watching it rather intently.

I don’t know how related it is to that, but legendary comics writer Chris Claremont released a book a year later called First Flight! which revolves around a maverick female pilot/astronaut and I remember loving the book when I first read it almost 10 years after its release. (Alas, the book is no longer in print; hooray for used bookstores!)

Combine the true facts with imaginary details of these women’s lives, toss in some Alien or Moon-style corporate intrigue along with healthy bits of science, and you’ve got an awesome movie right there.

Posted on April 8, 2010 at 06:27 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: Opinion/Editorial

6 Responses

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  1. Written by swego
    on April 8, 2010 at 13:24
    Permalink

    No. 7
    Under siege from the Nazi's and his own government, A Russian composer writes a symphony amid the war torn streets of Leningrad that will defy Hitler and unite his people.

    II have always thought that the story of Shostakovich's Symphony no. 7, would make a great film, it was composed in Leningrad (partially, as he was evacuated eventually) during the Nazi siege. It was first performed on the day that Hitler had predicted the fall of Leningrad, in Leningrad by an orchestra that was pieced together with musicians that had not been killed in battle or starved to death. The Russian Air Force led a heavy bombing campaign aimed at the German artillery the night before to ensure silence. They then broadcast the symphony with loudspeakers so the German troops could hear, it was also broadcast live throughout the USSR. Shostakovich had many problems with the Soviet government, especially Stalin, and he had been publicly denounced prior to the war.

    As it would only be based/inspired by the true story, for colour it would be possible to add in bits of Soviet propaganda, such as that Shostakovich was living a top a church steeple working as a fire warden. This would make for a much more dramatic backdrop to scenes of composition and interaction with his family, as well as provide him with something to do besides write. His family would allow spirited arguments relating to the importance of his work vs family safety, etc.

  2. Written by arkonbey
    on April 9, 2010 at 19:07
    Permalink

    This American Life had an episode that sort of relates to this and made me think about 'based on a true story'.

    The part “Midlife Cowboy” is about a regular guy (who used to be a drug runner) decided to track down and rescue two kids kidnapped and taken to Mexico by suspected murders: their parents. He was offered movie rights, but declined. If you listen, you'll be able to see what Hollywood might do with the story and why that might have been bad.
    It's a good listen, nonetheless.

  3. Written by MO--
    on April 11, 2010 at 20:10
    Permalink

    When I read the badass column on the soldier bear Woytek I immediately thought 'That would make an awesome movie', so it's a pleasant surprise to find it on your list.
    Although I fear if it would be made into a movie, it would be one of those horrible comedies-with-animals …

  4. Written by Trisha Lynn
    on April 11, 2010 at 21:57
    Permalink

    I admit that I kept that in mind when I wrote the synopsis.

  5. Written by Trisha Lynn
    on April 11, 2010 at 21:58
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    If I were a producer, I'd totally commission someone to write that script.

  6. Written by Trisha Lynn
    on April 11, 2010 at 22:00
    Permalink

    I haven't listened to that ep yet, but it's on my list. It also makes me wonder what the state of the first-look deal is with “This American Life.”

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