Breck Eisner, director of The Crazies, is currently heavily involved bringing a new, non-campy, 3-D Flash Gordon film to life. But how do you take the cheese out of Flash Gordon, with all its winged and furry-faced co-stars? Eisner explains.
We've read a lot about your upcoming work, after The Crazies. We heard you might be the director for The Brood, and that you are involved with a new take on the Flash Gordon franchise. Which movie would come first?
Well, The Brood, I was just approached about it. I haven't decided. I'm not sure if its one I want to take on. I love the original, and I'm not sure if it's a movie that I think is ready for a remake. I've been soul-searching and deciding if I want to do that.
Flash Gordon is a project that I've been pursuing for years. I absolutely love that movie, and that strip. It's at Sony, we have the writers on, we've done one draft. I've been brainstorming with them over the past couple months, when I finished post [for The Crazies]. They are busy writing right now, so we will have a script from that in short order, hopefully. It's a big, giant movie. And these things have a lot of different roads to go down before they get green light. Hopefully we'll get there, but it's always a long-shot, but it's one that I feel incredible passion for. In developing it, I've really gone back to the original Alex Raymond strips and pulled information from those.
I read that you really want to strip Flash Gordon of its campiness, what would have to go in order to accomplish this?
Yeah. Well inherently there are two key elements, I think, that removes the camp from the movie. When you re-read Raymond's strips, which were drawn from '32 to about the mid-40s you can't read them as a human being living in today's world. You have to imagine living in a world pre-space travel, and the world of the 30s. It's kind of a more naive view of the Universe. It's a mistake to try and [take] the sensibilities from then, and transplant them into today. So we, what the writers have been saying, is "What would it be like if Raymond was still alive today? If he was writing the strips now? What would he be doing? How much more sophisticated would it be?" And that's one one of our points of view. The other is, it's not just the level of sophistication in the world and in Mongo, and the design and the creatures. It's also the sophistication of character in Flash, and Dale, and Ming. What characters are more realistic and human? What characters have more flaws, and journeys to go on in the course of the movie?
It's such an iconic image, the Flash Gordon figure, just the costume and his boots alone. It's hard to imagine losing the costume or other classic images from the strip. Are those the type of things you think you'll have to do away with?
No, I think it's all a careful balance. I can tell you there will be Hawkmen, there will be Lionman, [and] Ming will be in the movie. In a version that is going to take place on Mongo. I love the source material, so lots of it is going to be in it. I'm not rediscovering, I'm not recreating a take on his original material. There are elements that will be in it, and there will certainly be elements that change. And unique takes on it that might not have been in reflected on before.
So were you a fan of the TV series?
No. Not at all, [ughhh]. I thought the TV series was not good. I think it did a lot of damage to the brand. To do Flash Gordon right — one of the reasons you can't is because of budget. I don't typically ever equate budget [with] a level of sophistication, or success in a project. Certainly, if you have all the money in the world, it doesn't mean you're going to have a good movie. But in a big movie like Flash Gordon, that takes place on another world, if you don't have the budget to do it right or the technology to do it right, it's going to inherently come out campy, whether you want it to or not. It's the only way that you can put that through to portray another planet. My take on this is to not do it, unless we have the right budget and can do it the right way.
But until then see Breck Eisner's work in The Crazies, this Friday.