It’s been a long time since we walked in the dark fairytale worlds of The City of Lost Children or Delicatessen and the twenty-first century Jeunet has seen only three films thus far with Amelie the most popular, giving its star, Audrey Tatou, a global stage to play on as well as reminding us that Jeunet’s charm and wit more than matches his visual invention. The new film will be in English, will be in 3D and, according to the report, will be based on the debut novel by Reif Larsen, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet.
The 2009 book contains many maps and illustrations, as the T. S. Spivet of the title is a twelve year-old mapmaker and appears to be begging for a big screen adaptation from Jeunet. The director is quoted in the report talking his connection to the book and its author,
This is a book-object: it contains plenty of illustrations…When I contacted the author, he said that there were five directors with whom he wanted to make the film: David Fincher , Wes Anderson , Tim Burton , Michel Gondry and myself.I was the first to contact him. Since we no longer have stopped working.
I’m assuming that Google translate let me down in that last sentence and that, in fact, since the initial contact they have not stopped working on the project. Any new project from Jeunet is worth paying attention to and there are certain parallels to Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming Hugo in that it is based around a young male protagonist uncovering a mystery relating to his family, it is based on a richly illustrated and well regarded book and that is marks each director’s first steps in the world of 3D.
The film is said to be shooting next summer in Canada, and we’ll bring you all the news on this one as we get it. In the meantime why not read up on the book’s summation on the US Penguin website, after sneaking a peek at Jeunet’s an excellent IMDb photo.
When twelve-year-old genius cartographer T.S. Spivet receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, life as normal-if you consider mapping family dinner table conversation normal-is interrupted and a wild cross-country adventure begins, taking T.S. from his family ranch just north of Divide, Montana, to the museum’s hallowed halls.
T.S. sets out alone, leaving before dawn with a plan to hop a freight train and hobo east. Once aboard, his adventures step into high gear and he meticulously maps, charts, and illustrates his exploits, documenting mythical wormholes in the Midwest, the urban phenomenon of “rims,” and the pleasures of McDonald’s, among other things. We come to see the world through T.S.’s eyes and in his thorough investigation of the outside world he also reveals himself.
As he travels away from the ranch and his family we learn how the journey also brings him closer to home. A secret family history found within his luggage tells the story of T.S.’s ancestors and their long-ago passage west, offering profound insight into the family he left behind and his role within it. As T.S. reads he discovers the sometimes shadowy boundary between fact and fiction and realizes that, for all his analytical rigor, the world around him is a mystery.
All that he has learned is tested when he arrives at the capital to claim his prize and is welcomed into science’s inner circle. For all its shine, fame seems more highly valued than ideas in this new world and friends are hard to find.
T.S.’s trip begins at the Copper Top Ranch and the last known place he stands is Washington, D.C., but his journey’s movement is far harder to track: How do you map the delicate lessons learned about family and self? How do you depict how it feels to first venture out on your own? Is there a definitive way to communicate the ebbs and tides of heartbreak, loss, loneliness, love? These are the questions that strike at the core of this very special debut.