Thanks to Stanley Kubrick, Marc Forster is heading back in time in more ways than one with his current project. Forster is currently working on a project based on a Stanley Kubrick screenplay about the Civil War. Mr. Kubrick wrote The Downslope with Shelby Foote in 1956, shortly before Stanley made Paths of Glory.
“It’s about John Mosby when… Custer’s division hang six of his rangers,” historian Shelby Foote said in an interview with The Paris Review in 1999. “Mosby from then on, when he captured one of Custer’s men, had him taken to a schoolhouse in the backwoods until he had about 50 of them. Then he had them line up and draw slips of paper out of a hat. Six of them would be hanged in retaliation. You can imagine the relief everybody felt who got a blank slip instead of a black dot. Then they discovered that one of the black-dot unfortunates was a drummer boy about 14 years old and Mosby said, ‘I’m not hanging no boys. Have them draw again.’ So they had to draw again.”
Kubrick’s The Downslope recounts a series of battles escalated by a bitter conflict between General George A. Custer, fighting on the side of the Union Army, and Confederate soldier John Mosby. The story revolves around Mosby’s legend as the Gray Ghost, due to the troubles Mosby and his group caused Custer as the Union general attempted to end the rebellion and bring an end to the war.
“We’ve been given the unique privilege to produce a Stanley Kubrick script no one has had the opportunity to make,” said producer Lauren Selig. “The first installment of the planned trilogy, written by Kubrick, is an engrossing story illustrating a crucial moment in history toward the end of the American Civil War.”
Kubrick’s family has given their blessing for the project to proceed with Forster (World War Z) set to direct the first leg of the trilogy. The release for that first film describes it as “a cautionary, anti-war tale.”
“The succeeding stories will expand upon Kubrick’s original story and journey west, as post-war Americans settled the new frontier, delivering on the country’s unbending ambitions and dreams of Manifest Destiny.”
Stanley Kubrick and Shelby Foote worked to bring The Downslope to the big screen with little success. Stanley spent many years, prior to his 1999 passing, working on this project, researching history, and developing the story. Although Kubrick had left notes and maps detailing his planned methods for shooting the film, there is no word on how much of this information will be employed by Forster beyond the actual screenplay.
[Featured image: Stanley Kubrick courtesy of Evening Standard/Getty Images]