I wish I could tell you I made that title up as a joke. I wish I could announce that recently revealed plans for a supernatural action-adventure based on the life of Leonardo da Vinci were an early/late April Fools hoax. Incredibly this actually seems to be happening – producer Adrian Askarieh has presented his treatment, Warner Bros. have genuinely greenlit it, and Dan Brown has a lot to answer for. Leonardo da Vinci was, of course, the closeted Renaissance polymath who drew on a combined fascination with science and art to gain huge insight into the secrets of nature and engineering, as well as producing several timeless paintings; a vegetarian and pacifist, who habitually bought caged birds simply to have the pleasure of releasing them into the wild; and, if we draw the obvious conclusion from his youthful arrest for sodomy and close association with several male apprentices, a lifelong practicing homosexual.
It’s hard to imagine exactly how the hack who ends up writing this thing will go about transforming him into the gruff, alcoholic, womanising swordsman with a darkly tragic past which the concept clearly demands, but it’s going to be a lot of fun finding out. What are the odds on ‘Mona Lisa’ appearing as Leo’s feisty hate-then-love interest, with a MASSIVE pair of tits? Trick question of course – there are no odds, it is simply inevitable. The initial report actually makes mention of National Treasure (2004) as if it were a model for emulation, rather than the second most ridiculous film Nicholas Cage has ever made.
Some are describing it as part of a recent trend of studios favouring big-budget action adventures with a pseudo-historical gloss, such as Guy Ritchie’s recent stab at Sherlock Holmes (2009), and Ridley Scott’s upcoming attempt to remake Gladiator (2000) without anyone noticing. It will be interesting to see whether this deformed monster of a “high” concept ever actually comes to term, or quietly sputters into oblivion somewhere along the line once shite olde-worlde accents and leather jerkins are no longer quite The Thing. Personally I’m imagining a cross between Van Helsing (2004) and Hudson Hawk (1991), and am looking forward to it immensely – after all, there’s always going to be a perverse attraction in watching highly-paid ‘creatives’ loudly soil themselves in front of millions of paying customers.