Sunday, September 28, 2003

History goes to the movies


Fall-winter films revisit familiar American landscapes - the Alamo, the Civil War - and go around the world

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

History buffs have plenty to look forward to at the movies this year, as a cornucopia of period pieces arrives beginning Friday to compete for the attention of grown-up ticket buyers and Oscar voters alike. This year's key contenders (with release dates, all subject to change):

[IMAGE] Russell Crowe stars in Master and Commander
| ZOOM |

Master and Commander

Opening: Nov. 14

Historical period: Napoleonic Wars

Plot: Ship and crew explore life on the far side of the world.

Big-deal star: Russell Crowe

Sexy cool co-star: Paul Bettany

Literary roots: Patrick O'Brian novels

Prestige director: Peter Weir (Gallipoli)

Oscar winners on board: Crowe, makeup artist Greg Cannom

Quote: "There's something to be said for just leaving other people alone." - O'Brian, noted recluse

Around The World In 80 Days

Opening: Nov. 21

Historical period: Late 19th century

Plot: An adventurer accompanies a time-obsessed Englishman on a daring journey around the world.

Big-deal star: Jackie Chan

Sexy cool co-star: Cecile de France

Literary roots: Jules Verne's seminal fantasy novel

Prestige director: Frank Coraci (The Waterboy)

Oscar winners on board: Jim Broadbent, Kathy Bates, special effects director Kit West

Quote: "The trickiest thing with Jackie ... is we're always like, 'What hasn't he done? Climbing a Ferris wheel?' No, he's done that. 'Fighting a giant squid?' That, he hasn't done. It's searching for some of those things that he's never done." - Director Coraci

Timeline

Opening: Nov. 26

Historical period: 14th-century France

Plot: Archaeological students, trying to retrieve their professor, are trapped in the past.

Big-deal star: Paul Walker

Sexy cool co-star: Anna Friel

Literary roots: Michael Crichton novel

Prestige director: Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon, 1 through 4)

Oscar winners on board: Costume designer Jenny Beavan

Quote: "We've spent many, many dollars that were wasted and never seen on the screen." - Donner, on misfortunes that delayed production two years

The Alamo

Opening: Dec. 25

Historical period: 1836, San Antonio

Plot: Davy Crockett and James Bowie lead a futile, fatal stand in the battle for Texas.

Big-deal (lone) star: Texas

Sexy cool co-stars: Dennis Quaid, Jason Patric

Literary roots: Many and varied

Prestige director: John Lee Hancock (The Rookie)

Oscar winners on board: Billy Bob Thornton, screenwriter Stephen Gaghan, cinematographer Dean Semler, sound editor Jon Johnson, producers Mark Johnson, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard

Quote: "It was the biggest set ever built in the United States. It was on 53 acres. It was on a 2,000-acre ranch so you didn't see a house, you didn't see a power line, and you didn't see a car. ... It is historically to scale. It's historically perfect. It's phenomenal." - Cast member Marc Blucas




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