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Unfulfilled Cinematic Dreams - From Stanley Kubrick To David Lynch

Abhishek Srivastava - 72 weeks ago

Not many know that when Steven Spielberg was busy with the shoot of Schindler’s List, Stanley Kubrick was knee deep involved in the research of his film The Aryan Paper, a film which had holocaust as its backdrop. When Kubrick was convinced that Spielberg’s film would hit theatres before his film, he gave up his pet project and later went into a depression. Hollywood is replete with instances of directors who simply could not go ahead with their pet projects.

Crusade (Director - Paul Verhoeven)

Dutch director Paul Verhoeven was all set to embark for his epic project after the success of The terminator. Titled Crusade, the film was a middle ages epic somewhere on the lines of Spartacus. It was in an interview to Empire magazine in which the lead actor Arnold Schwarzenegger had revealed the real reason behind shelving of the film. According to the macho star, it was Paul’s breakdown during the final meeting of the film that aborted the project. When the director was questioned that if he were given $100 million for the project, how will he guarantee that it won’t go up to 130? It was also the point when Paul lost his cool and gave back by saying that there is no such thing as guarantee and if anyone promises guarantee then he or she is lying. In the very same interview, Schwarzenegger had also revealed that he kept kicking his leg under the table to shut up but he simply did not listen. 

Napoleon (Director – Stanley Kubrick)

Stanley Kubrick was scheduled to direct Napoleon after having enjoyed unprecedented success with 2001: A Space Odyssey. So immersed was the director in his favourite project that he even confessed to having adopted Napoleon’s mannerism right down to his eating habit. Jack Nicholson was slated to step into the title role when corporate restructuring hit MGM. The entire plan for the film got derailed as the new management at MGM were vary of a period film and thus did not give their go ahead. 

The Aryan Papers (Director – Stanley Kubrick)

Another of Kubrick’s pet project The Aryan Papers was based on Louis Begley’s novel Wartime Lies which dealt with the son of a wealthy Jewish family who is forced to flee from Poland after the German occupation. Entire pre-production of the film was done and locations in Denmark and Belgium were earmarked for the shoot. Prior to this he had even sent his assistants to Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland to scout for ideal locations. Swedish actress Johanna ter Steege was already signed for the lead role but it was also the time when the buzz regarding Schindler’s List was at its peak. A major portion of the film had already been shot in Krakow, Poland. The fact that Schindler’s List would hit theatres before The Aryan Papers made Kubrick go into a depression and thus decided to abandon the project. 

Ronnie Rocket (Director – David Lynch)

Ronnie Rocket was supposed to be a sequel to David Lynch’s debut feature film Eraserhead. The plot dealt with two stories. While the first one dealt with a detective who could travel into another universe by standing on one leg, the other one was about a disfigured dwarf. When David started meeting financers, no one was willing to pump money in a project which was both weird as well as expensive. After few years, the project was revived once again and this time famed producer Dino de Laurentiis and Ford Coppola agreed to produce the film. David Lynch rewrote the script and signed actors like Michael J Anderson, Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini. Unfortunately the debacle of a film from Dino’s stable ensured that all upcoming projects were stopped. The film that David made in place of Ronnie Rocket was The Elephant Man, a film that garnered as many as eight Oscar nominations and Mel Brooks secretly pumped in money as a producer. 

Frankenstein (Director – David Cronenberg)

The above mentioned ad appeared in Variety even before a single word of the script had been written. It is said that Cronenberg was approached by a Canadian producer who asked his opinion on the words ‘David Cronenberg’s Frankenstein’. It was a matter of few days when an ad announcing the beginning of the film appeared in Variety. It’s a pity that no progress took place and the project died an untimely death. 


Crusade / The Aryan Papers / Napoleon / Ronnie Rocket / Frankenstein / Paul Verhoeven / Stanley Kubrick / David Lynch / David Cronenberg / Shelved Films / Arnold Schwargenegger / Jack Nicholson / Isabella Rossellini

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of The Film Hashery.

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