Adapting the works of essential American novelist Ernst Hemingway is no slight task; his spartan prose and deep undercurrent of melancholy demands a light directorial touch and a sensitivity from the actors giving life to his carefully selected words. Every sentence in a Hemingway novel is heavy with meaning, and it takes creative deftness beyond what most are capable of to do right by the underlying significance in his meditations on war, seafaring, and manhood. Only a true artist can translate Hemingway to the screen, an elite cineaste such as James Franco, who adapted Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying in 2013. And now, a new cinematic titan has stepped up to the challenge: the guy who directed Goldeneye.

The Hollywood Reporter has hollywood-reported that Martin Campbell will take the reins on an adaptation of Faulkner’s 1950 novel Across the River and Into the Trees, his final work to hit shelves prior to his suicide in 1961. Campbell will even reunite with his erstwhile Bond for this unlikely project, tapping Pierce Brosnan for the lead role of Colonel Cantwell, a fifty-year-old military man dying of heart failure. In an almost comically typical Hemingwayesque plot, Cantwell goes out duck hunting, has a heart attack, reflects on the inhumanities of war and a weekend he spent banging an Italian teenager, has a couple more heart attacks, and then ponders what it means to be a man. Cantwell’s narration jumps all over the timeline of his life, though we can safely assume the aging Brosnan will portray the character in his fifties. Working from a script drawn up by Michael Radford (Oscar-nominated for Il Postino) and English playwright Peter Flannery, Campbell will begin production in October on location in Italy. There‘s no telling how this thing will actually turn out, but the odd team behind it does raise a peculiar question: why is it that so many excellent films have been made out of middling novels (Psycho, The Godfather) and all-time great novels rarely work on film?

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