If everything goes according to plan for director Scott Derrickson, he’ll direct a feature film based on John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and we’ll see the war in heaven and the fall in the garden depicted more vividly than any film that has come before.

But he’s apparently not the only one with such ambitions. The Hollywood Reporter says that producer Martin Poll has a similar aim. Who knows? Paradise Lost may follow in the path of Truman Capote, who had two films about him released within a short span of months.

It’s interesting to imagine two directors exploring the challenge of telling a story in which two of the lead characters are naked for a good section of the story. (Reuters reports that Poll’s project already has actors attached to the roles of Adam and Eve.) It’s also poses screenwriters one of the most interesting challenges of literary adaptation ever attempted. Have you read Milton’s epic poem lately? Did it scream “Screenplay!” to you? I’m curious to see if the screenwriters follow the thoughts of literary critics who interpret Milton’s poem as making Satan the hero. I’ve never been persuaded by such theories. Satan is supposed to be seductive and impressive, and I think readers who fall for him in the poem are being seduced. But that’s a debate for another time and place…

Whatever happens, I’m an admirer of Derrickson’s thoughtful screenplay for Wim Wenders’ Land of Plenty (which features Michelle Williams in an underrated performance as a conscientious Christian woman) and his direction of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I can’t wait to see how he’ll take it on. I rather hope he can see his project through without any inconvenience from any kind of parallel project, since he’s been developing it for so long.

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