Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mila 18

I have been waiting for years for Hollywood to get their act together and make the film adaptation of the book Mila 18 by Leon Uris. I love reading books especially fiction but there have been only two books, in my 30 years, that I have read more than once and Mila 18 was one of them. This is a story about the invasion of Warsaw in Poland by the Nazis. The imagery of the Polish army, or Ulany army, charging into battle on horseback against the German Panzer tanks. I've had this vision in my head for years, the old world vs. the technological might of the Nazis. It would probably cost a fortune to film but damn what an amazing thing to see. The story also moves past the devastating loss of the Ulany brigade and the beginning of the Warsaw ghetto where a handful of Jews stand up to the Nazi army using the underground black market to revolt against their captors in an attempt to escape. It is a little different from our normal casting calls but it's one that I think could be a tour de force film and really show a different side to the Jews in occupied Poland during World War II.

Captain Andrei Androfski

The heart and soul of the Ulany Brigade. He is bold, he is brash he is almost superhuman. He is as hot headed as he is stubborn. Andrei is also in conflict with his jewish heritage. Unlike his friends and family he is a proud Jewish/Polish soldier who wants to live and die in Poland. He is always at odds with his friend and mentor Alex Brandel who is a strict Zionist with intentions of moving to Israel. Andrei wants to fight the Germans at every turn and it is very difficult to change his mind on this. He leads the resistance to revolt against the Germans and attempt to escape the ghetto. You obviously need a leading man action kind of guy for this role. I have three guys that I think would be great in this role.

Eric Bana - He was great in Munich and Troy the sympathetic warrior in both. He can be bold and he's got the chops to add depth to Andrei. In the book he is described as "Andrei indeed cut the classic figure of a Ulan cavalry officer." Actually as I look through the book Uris doesn't really give much description for Andrei. Just that he is built and has the dexterity of a soccer player. He always has a way with the ladies. So I think Bana fits well in this category.

David Wenham - He has also played warrior in 300 and Lord of the Rings. Wenham has a strength in his voice that suits Andrei very much. I think Wenham has put in his dues and deserves the shot at a lead role. I can definitely see Wenham charging into battle on horseback against a formation of tanks.

Kevin McKidd - You may not recognize the name but if you watch HBO you probably have seen the mini-series Rome. McKidd's Vorenus is a tough guy with very strong principles and he's as stubborn as a mule, perfect for the Captain of the Ulany Brigade.

Gabriella Rak

Gabriella is the very beautiful girlfriend of Andrei's. She works at the American Embassy in Warsaw. She is always trying to keep him from going back to the front but doesn't have a lot of luck with that. She's a tough woman, she would have to be to keep a guy like Andrei in check. She wants to marry Andrei but because she is not Jewish she can't, which causes some tension in the relationship. There are a few actresses that I think could pull this role off. She isn't just your average phone in girlfriend role. There is more to Gabby and she needs to be chosen carefully.

Rachel Weisz - No one will deny that Rachel Weisz is an exceptional actress. She had some great performances in The Constant Gardner, The Fountain and About a Boy. I think she's the perfect beauty for this role and I see her pairing up with Eric Bana very nicely.

Kate Winslet - She is definitely one of the hardest working actresses in Hollywood. She is diverse jumping from a role as a strict mother in Finding Neverland to an carefree, slightly loopy, woman in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I think she could bring a vitality to Gabriella that could really give this film some juice. She is sexy as hell and the more I think about it the more I really love her for this role.

Christopher De Monti

The American/Italian journalist who represents the conscience of this story. It's his responsibility as a journalist and friend to the Jews in Warsaw to tell their story to the world. Chris is deeply in love with Andrei's sister Deborah. It causes tension because Deborah is a married woman with children. She is also a strict Jew and although she loves Chris she won't leave her husband. Chris is a proud guy who, because of his childhood in Italy, has a deep seated hatred for fascism. When the Nazis take over Warsaw Chris is forced to keep his enemy's close in order to keep an eye on them for the resistance. He has to tow a very dangerous line almost like Schindler. I had a few actors in mind for Chris, it's got to be a guy who can start out as a secondary character and by the end of the film rise to be one of the more important leads in the film.

Leonardo Di Caprio - Before this past year I never would have suggested Di Caprio for any role as juicy as this one, but after the Departed and Blood Diamond, Di Caprio has proven that he has the chops to actually play an adult. Chris is a complex character who has sort of a faulty moral logic. Leo's character in Blood Diamond had a similar faulty morality to him that made him kind of a gray character until the end of the film. I think Leo definitely has the look of Chris and could navigate his complicated storyline.

Billy Crudup - He's always a favorite after great performances in Almost Famous, Big Fish, The Good Shepherd and, I'm gonna take a shot in the dark but, I think he's gonna be great as Dr. Manhattan in the Watchmen film which will be coming out in 2009. Looking at his roles in the Good Shepherd and Mission Impossible 3, where he plays both sides, I think that Billy could do very well stuck between the push of the Nazi's and the needs of the Jews in the ghetto.

Deborah Bronski

Deborah is the sister to Andrei and the lover to Chris. She is caught in the middle of a triangle romance between her husband Paul and Chris while at the same time she is struggling to keep her children alive during the occupation of Warsaw. Deborah is constantly trying to hold everything together as the world comes apart seam by seam around her. In the book Deborah is described as having "raven hair...She was biblical. Black and olive. A Deborah from the bible. "

Lena Headey - Now I admit I have only really seen her in one film, but it was enough for me. Her role as Queen Gorgo in 300 impressed me. She was strong and beautiful and she held her own with 300 Spartans. She also fits the requirements for the look of Deborah with her dark hair and tanned skin.

Marion Cotillard - She is also an actress that I have not seen in great detail or very often, but I liked the look of her for Deborah. She had a very small role in Big Fish as Billy Crudup's wife, but like I said I really thought she was great and I liked her with Billy. So since I put him down as Chris I had to try her out as Deborah. Plus she is an international actress which I think is important for the role.

Alexander Brandel

If Andrei is the heart of this story and Chris is the conscience then Alexander Brandel is the brain. It is his diary that you hear describing most of the horrors of the ghetto. Brandel is a true Zionist with the intention of doing his duty as a good Jew and moving his family to the homeland in Israel. He spars constantly with Andrei trying to make him a Zionist like himself, and he is always trying to get him to come to speak at council which Andrei really detests. There are a few older gentlemen that I think could fill this role.

Liam Neeson - For some reason I really like Liam Neeson for this role. He's so good in the role as a teacher and father figure and that is exactly what Brandel is. He is always trying to guide Andrei to the right and moral path and I think given Neeson's roles in Star Wars and Kingdom of Heaven he can really build on this important role.

Gary Oldman - You wouldn't normally picture Gary Oldman playing an older father figure type, but after his roles in Harry Potter and Batman Begins I really think he could bring something to this role. I also think that Oldman has the intelligence and wit to bring out some of the humor in the old man.

Paul Bronski

Is the very stiff and sometimes cold husband to Deborah. He is the Dean of the College of Medicine and according to his brother in law, Andrei, he is ashamed to be Jewish. He is a pretty complicated character, he kind of exists in the gray zone. He is a prominent doctor in the community and when Warsaw is taken over he is chosen to be the representative to deal with the Nazis. This of course causes him the most stress. He is a really difficult character to cast because of his slight hypocrisies. I think I have a couple actors that could do him justice.

Guy Pearce - He was cold and calculating in L.A. Confidential and he has an effortless efficiency to him that makes him perfect for Paul. As much as you may dislike him though he can still break through and surprise you and this is very important aspect of Paul that Pearce can achieve.

Jude Law - This I have to say is role that Jude Law was born for. I like him as an actor but for me the role I enjoyed the most was Jerome from Gattaca. He was cold, mean ruthless but when he climbed into the incinerator you're damn sure you thought better of him then you did when you walked in to the theatre. Paul is also a tragic character and I think that given the opportunity Jude could be looking at a Supporting Actor Oscar.

Wolf Brandel

Wolf represents the next generation in the ghetto. He is Alexander's son. He is brilliant and he is a teenager and it is most difficult on him living in these conditions. Not to mention that he has the hots for Deborah's daughter Rachel which causes some problems in the Nazi occupied Warsaw. Wolf starts out small but ends up becoming a pivotal figure in the resistance and the revolt against the Nazis.

Shia Labeouf - Why not Shia he seems to be the go to it kid for every major motion picture these days. He's a smart kid and a good actor and it's easy to fit him in pretty much any kind of role. He would bring a vitality to the role of Wolf that would grow as the film presses on.

Franz Koenig

Koenig is a German expat who works with Paul Bronski at the University. He is a decitful, petty and racist guy who really hates Paul Bronski and wants his job as Dean at the University of Warsaw. Koenig is described as "the little gray-haired man with the little gray mustache." He sides with the Nazis and becomes quite a burden for Paul and the other Jews in Warsaw. There are two actors that I think could fill this role well.

Paul Giamatti - He's great in whatever he does, but given his schmendrick role in American Splendor and his spine-less kiss ass nature in Planet of the Apes and Howard Stern's Private Parts. I think he would be an inspired choice for this antagonist.

Ian McShane - Nobody was a bigger ass hole than Al Swerengen and that is why the former Deadwood star would actually turn in a very menacing and almost terrifying role as Koenig. He may have to tamper a little of that rage and put forward a little more of the kiss ass but he was very good at playing both sides which is essential to this character. He's selfish and will do anything to get what he wants.

This honestly would be a great film if some studio out there was taking notice. I'm telling you oscars to go around. If you get someone like Anthony Minghella or Sam Mendes behind the camera you can't lose. I know right at this moment that Harvey Weinstein still owns the rights to this one but is having trouble with the script. Let me give you a hint Harvey don't focus too much on Andrei, this story is about getting the Jews' story out to the world, which means your true lead through at least the occupation sequences has to be Chris de Monti, the reporter. So if you guys have read the book and have any other ideas for other characters or the ones I've already listed let me know.


Captain Mike said...

Personally, I think Eric Bana and Liam Neeson have already spent enough time saving Jews on film, and a post this long about a movie that isn't even in production could only have been concoted by someone with far too much time on their hands. Go feed the baby!

Jeff said...

I really like this book and I thought it would make a great movie. So what? I think you're just pissed cause Belachick was exposed as a cheater. It's okay Mike, let out your frustrations.

Jeff said...

You are also mad because my Yankees just came back from five runs in the 8th to beat your sox.

Go Yankees!

Anonymous said...

di monti is jude law. not seeing that calls into question all of the rest of you suggestions.

Jeff said...

I like Jude Law as I have him down for Paul--he plays cold better than anyone and that is the role I feel is best suited for him. Unfortunately Jude doesn't do leading man very well and Chris is certainly a leading man. Check Alfie, Sky Captain and Enemy at the Gates. He can't carry a film on his shoulders period and he would have to carry the last half of this film all on his own-- I just don't think he's capable.

matt said...

Eric Bana is a decent actor but he is no Andrei...Andrei is 6ft tall and physically powerful someone like Gerard Butler...Also I just finished reading the book for like the 5th time and I'm convinced to really do this book the justice it is due on the big screen(unlike the Exodus)It should not be made into a movie, but into a Mini-series.( sort of like the Starz adaptation of Ken Follet's Pillars of Earth, a great book, and pretty good movie-mini-series. There is just tooo much info that must be included to make it good, and i don't see that being done in the allotted 2-3 hours.

A last note Paul Giamatti would make a great Franz Koeing.

The net says that Harvey Weinstein has taken this project on and is supposedly started filming in Poland, but it said thaht he started shooting like 2yrs ago, what the hell is taking so long?
Also it says that he wants to direct this movie himself. To me thats stupid since he is not a director why does he think he can just jump behind the camera and direct such a movie

Jeff said...

Eric Bana is 6 ft and counting so he fits the height requirement for sure. Plus if you watch him in Troy he can certainly play a warrior of Andrei's caliber. But my first favorite choice is Kevin McKidd. The guy is Andrei to be honest. He's stubborn, honorable and has a fiery temper and most importantly he can convincingly kick your ass.

But I agree I think it would make a great mini-series as well. Unfortunately this movie in any form will likely never see the light of day because of Harvey Weinstein. The guy just won't let the rights go and he surely wouldn't want anyone else to take a crack at it. Which is another reason why is a colossal ass hole.
But what can you do.

Anonymous said...

movie slated to come out this year!

Jeffrey Marvin said...

Yeah I'll believe that when I see it. According to my information Weinstein has been sitting on this one forever and it doesn't look likely it will ever get made. With some luck and hope I'll be able to make this myself. But I doubt it on both counts.