Saturday, October 20, 2012

Simon Read's "Human Game"

Simon Read was an award-winning journalist before he became a nonfiction author.  His books include In the Dark and War of Words.

Here he shares some suggestions for cast and director of an adaptation of his latest book, Human Game: The True Story of the 'Great Escape' Murders and the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen:
Naturally, my opinion is biased, but I think Human Game would make an interesting film in that the book is a non-fiction follow up to the events depicted in the 1963 Steve McQueen classic The Great Escape. The movie, of course, ends with fifty of the recaptured POWs being gunned down by the Gestapo. Human Game details the three-year manhunt by the Royal Air Force to track down the Gestapo gunmen responsible for the murders.

The story’s central character is Frank McKenna, a 38-year-old Squadron Leader charged with bringing the killers to justice. In civilian life, McKenna had been a detective with the Blackpool police, so he was already a skilled investigator by the time he arrived in Germany to start the hunt in September 1945. I think Christian Bale would make a great McKenna. McKenna took an obsessive approach to his work, something I feel Bale does with his acting. For Wing Commander Wilfred Bowes, McKenna’s blunt and tough-minded superior, Clive Owen would fit the bill nicely.

In the book, captured war criminals are interrogated in the London Cage, a mansion in the British capital that was turned into a holding facility for wanted Nazis. In charge of the London Cage was Lt. Colonel A. O. Scotland. He was your typical tough, stiff-upper lip type. I can easily picture Hugh Laurie in the role. Scotland, a seasoned interrogator, cared little for what others thought of his methods. It’s an attitude Laurie portrayed brilliantly during eight seasons of House. I should also add that being British, I’ve been a fan of Laurie’s for years—long before he played television’s coolest doctor.

The question of director is a good one. My three favorite directors are Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, and Christopher Nolan (although I love the Dark Knight movies, Insomnia is my favorite Nolan movie). Scott’s films are often a blend of fantastic characterization, great action, and stylish aesthetics. Black Rain has long been one of my favorite crime dramas. Mann’s movies are great, as he also takes his time fleshing out the characters. You get a great sense of who the individuals on screen really are. Nolan’s films have a very cool style to them. I’d be happy for any one of these three gents to work behind the camera on Human Game—of course, I wouldn’t mind Spielberg or Eastwood, either!
Learn more about the author and his work at Simon Read's website.

--Marshal Zeringue