Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Taylor Brown's "The River of Kings"

Taylor Brown grew up on the Georgia coast. He has lived in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and the mountains of western North Carolina. His books include the story collection In the Season of Blood and Gold and the novel Fallen Land.

Here Brown dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The River of Kings:
As a film, I think The River of Kings would be something of a marriage between Jeff Nichols’s Mud and Terrence Malick’s The New World. Or perhaps John Boorman’s Deliverance and Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God.

The novel is composed of both contemporary and historical time lines. In the present-day story, two brothers are delivering their father’s ashes down the legendary Altamaha River—Georgia’s “Little Amazon.” Their father, a shrimper, died under mysterious circumstances, and they are unraveling the mystery of his death and their own conflicted emotions about the man and his legacy. At the same time, there is the story of Jacques Le Moyne, the first European artist in the New World, who was part of a 1564 expedition to found the French colony of Fort Caroline at the river’s mouth. The story lines are tied together by the river itself, as well as the legendary sea monster long-storied to live in its depths.

I would love to see what Werner Herzog could do with the film version. Herzog never shies from a challenge, and he is no stranger to river stories, whether he is pulling a 300-ton steamship over a hill in the middle of the Amazon for Fitzcarraldo, or building rafts for the ill-fated, Eldorado-seeking conquistadors of Aguirre: The Wrath of God.

As for actors, I have a few in mind. Lawton is the aggressive, physically powerful older brother in the book. He lost his appointment to the Naval Academy after an altercation in high school, protecting younger brother Hunter, but still managed to become a Navy SEAL. I think one of my very favorite actors, Tom Hardy, would make a great Lawton. He has the physical presence, exuding that air of barely-contained violence—even madness—and yet he can be extremely sweet and gentle—much like Lawton.

Then there is Uncle King, the mysterious tattooed ex-priest who wonders the river with a harpoon, hunting the sea monster of legend. I think Kris Kristofferson would be perfect for this role. He has the grizzled look, the lean power, and the sagelike air. I can see him long-haired and bare-chested, with the Virgin Mary’s foot tattooed over his heart, crushing a serpent.

I would love to see French actor Louis Garrel (The Dreamers, Mon Roi) as Jacques Le Moyne. Louis has both the innocence of the conflicted ingénue and the searing intensity of the veteran believer—both of which are needed for this role. Le Moyne is perhaps one of the most interesting figures in French colonial history—hell, in all of French history—and Garrel would do him justice.
Visit Taylor Brown's website.

--Marshal Zeringue