Skip to comments.Brave New World for Hollywood as Aldous Huxley feud ends
Posted on 03/22/2008 10:46:47 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
When Leonardo DiCaprio was a young boy, he used to play hide-and-seek in the overgrown gardens of a Hollywood Hills mansion owned by the family of the visionary British author Aldous Huxley.
Now, 30 years later, the star of Titanic and The Aviator is paying back the hospitality by putting his Hollywood muscle behind the first big-screen production of Brave New World, Huxleys most enduring novel.
The Universal Studios movie, which Sir Ridley Scott wants to direct, has become possible only because years of wrangling over the terms of Huxleys will have finally been settled, his granddaughter Tessa confirmed last week. There is now nothing stopping this film, she said.
America, which claims the Surrey-born author as one of its own, appears to be on the brink of a Huxley revival.
Fresh editions of his novels are in the works, Californian libraries are bidding for his papers, which include a hoard of unpublished manuscripts, and his last home above Los Angeles where DiCaprio played may be turned into a writers retreat.
Yet Huxley was a quintessential middle-class Englishman. Born in Godalming and educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, he became a friend of 1920s luminaries such as DH Lawrence and the philosopher Bertrand Russell. Both men influenced Huxleys portrait of a future London where sex is easy but love banned in Brave New World, which was published in 1932.
He moved to Los Angeles in 1937, saying the light suited his poor eyesight. Hollywood employed him to rewrite British classics for the screen such as Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. His rambling home on Mulholland Drive, the highway that winds along the top of the mountains overlooking Los Angeles, became a salon for intellectuals from the astronomer Edwin Hubble to the Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary, promoter of the hallucinogenic drug LSD, which Huxley took as part of a final ceremony as he lay stricken with cancer in 1963.
Until her own death at 96 last December, Huxleys Italian-born widow Laura maintained the Mulholland home as an open house where she became friends with George DiCaprio, the actors artist father.
Laura and I were friends, and Leo was friends with Lauras ward Karen: they were toddlers playing together in these rambling old gardens with an empty fish pond and wild flowers everywhere, DiCaprio, 64, recalled last week.
Laura always wanted a film made of Brave New World, but the technology was not there to make it look convincing. It is a vast futuristic world to put on screen, packed with many ideas which made it tough for some studios to deal with. And there were also family issues, he said.
These issues hinged on the terms of Huxleys will. It left 80% of future royalties to Laura and 20% to his son Matthew by his first wife Maria, which on Matthews death passed to his two children Trevenen and Tessa.
They expressed what family friends call disappointment with this arrangement, and made it clear they enjoyed termination rights, which meant they could stop any film. Studios were not willing to risk that.
The Huxleys literary agent, Georges Borchardt, who also represents Ian McEwan and the Tennessee Williams estate, has negotiated a fresh, undisclosed royalty deal with the younger Huxleys, which has cleared the way for the movie.
DiCaprio will play John the Savage, who lives a natural life on a reservation while the rest of cloned humanity is lulled into docility with sex, soma (drugs) and feelies (films that also involve the senses of smell and touch). He finally escapes celebrity to become a lighthouse keeper.
And Ridley Scott, who has just finished working with Leo on a film called Body of Lies, has volunteered himself to direct, said George DiCaprio, who is helping to produce Brave New World. We are due to see the first script next week.
Tessa Huxley, 54, said last week that she remembered playing as a small child with her grandfather in the house on Mulholland. She added: I know my grandfather would be very pleased that his ideas were about to reach a new audience around the world.
Oh my Ford! Are they going to finally make a film version of this old anachronism? Who is going to watch this turkey?
But I doubt it. The movie will be distorted, or the media will play on the "powerful performance" of DiCrapio.
I'd like to think I'm wrong, but, (cynic that I am), I can imagine movie-goers leaving the theater and asking where they can purchase Soma.
And in the end he knocks himself off if I remember correctly. I haven't read the book for some time.
Seems a weak choice for a big-budget film.
Shut up and take the soma; I’m glad I’m a beta.
I wonder how they are going to handle the eugenics aspects of the movie. If I recall correctly, (it’s been 20 years since I read the book) that was it’s primary thrust.
Although, like you, I think most movie-goers are going to be more enthralled with the sensualistic aspects of the story and ignore anything that smacks of the original message.
That's what Stanley Kubrick always thought of AI, then he saw Spielberg's Jurassic Park and knew it could be done. The rest is history. Too bad Spielberg directed.
There was a BBC mini-series, oh, over 20 years ago.
It wasn’t half-bad if I recall correctly. It was true to the book.
I don’t see the box-office potential for this as a 2-hour movie, if done as per the book. The romance is pretty perfunctory, there are no real thrills or action or spectacle. It is a fairly humorous novel about ideas, not good material for money-making. I would compare to Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy”.
Voluntary euthanasia at age 30 is a liberal wet dream, as long as they're running the show and not subject to the rules.
You mean technically or politically correctly?
The can film any biotech factory to get the cloning, and study any public school to get how to indoctrinate children.
BRAVE NEW WORLD
Plenty of room for a good, leftist, Hollywood, screen writer, eh?
I always saw BNW as a rather conservative novel, in the old style of conservatism of course.
Old-fashioned British conservatives like, say, Tolkien and Lewis, were skeptical of all sorts of modernisms, whether socialist or capitalist or moral or technological. BNW hits at many targets.
What a screenwriter will do with that is pretty much up to the screen writer.
I think I’ll just stick to reading the book. Hollywood isn’t very smart and will screw this up. DiCrapio is soooo overrated its ridiculous.
As always, Hollywood will try to spin this into a Right Wing horror tale. They will destroy the story and ruin the film as a result.
They really can't see past their hatred for big corporations as the source of the world's evil, (a la Blade Runner) even as they use big corporations to produce and distribute their films.
Plus all of his pot smoking and ‘relations’ with Toby McGuire are very, very Brave New World-esque. If only Leo wasn’t born a Gamma....
This is one of my favorite books, and Ridley Scott is one of my favorite directors! I’m looking forward to this one.
They should have Huxley meet George Orwell and both write a story that ended up being buried in a monastery on Mullholland Dr. where certain monks know of its existence and kill other monks to keep it safe. Until Sean Connery shows up...
Will it be PC like Ridley Scott’s film on the Crusades?