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Idris Elba Books Lead Role In Cary Fukunaga's Adaptation Of 'Beasts of No Nation'

by Tambay A. Obenson
August 20, 2013 9:48 PM
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Idris Elba

After starring as Nelson Mandela in the upcoming Long Walk To Freedom, Idris Elba will be heading back to the continent (Africa) to star in Cary Fukunaga's film adaptation of Nigeria author Uzodinma Iweala’s bestselling debut novel Beasts of No Nation.

Red Crown Productions will produce the film adaptation which follows the journey of a young boy, who is forced to join a group of soldiers in an unnamed West African country. His fledgling childhood brutally shattered by the war raging through his unnamed West African country, the boy finds himself simultaneously fascinated and revolted by the mechanics of war.

The novel is said to be explicit, complex, not shying away from the harsh stuff - a confrontational, immersive first-person narrative.

According to Deadline, Idris Elba will play the lead role of (not the boy obviously) the Commander under whom the boy fights. Idris will produce as well.

According to director Fukunaga: “This project has been seven years in the making, so to say I’m excited to start shooting this — and with Idris Elba as lead — would be me trying to play it cool. Red Crown has real moxie standing behind this story.

Primary Productions' Amy Kaufman will also serve as producers on the film, joining Elba, Fukunaga and Red Crown. 

Daniel Crown and Bill Benenson will serve as executive producers. 

While I'm certainly glad to see Elba continuously working, and I dig Fukunaga's eye, I'm not so high on yet another film on child soldiers in an "unnamed African country." 

The danger of the single story... to borrow from author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. There's so much more to Africa than conflict, war, poverty, corruption, and all the other favorites of Western-made films and filmmakers.

Granted I haven't read the novel the film will be based on, so it may exceed my expectations, and may not at all be what I immediately envisioned. 

I'll pick up a copy of it, and read it before the film is made.

If you have read the novel, please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Red Crown is financing the film.

IM Global is taking the project to the Toronto International Film Festival for international sales. 

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More: Idris Elba, Cary Fukunaga

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  • keepinitreal | August 21, 2013 9:17 PMReply

    Yay! I'm so excited...another film about an african war! How original!

  • Afrolicious | August 21, 2013 2:19 PMReply

    Beasts of No Nation is an unusual book: a singular story, but not a single story. I'm extra curious about how the film has been adapted to accommodate the language that sets the book apart. I'm glad Idris Elba is taking on that challenge, but ultimately I don't think this will be a film for African audiences. I encourage people to read the book to understand the character Elba will be playing and to support African writers!

  • Poblano | August 21, 2013 9:44 AMReply

    No joke, I think it's time for Carey Fukunaga to make a film about violent white folks who grow up in the "rough and tumble" suburbs of middle class America, collect guns and go on killing sprees. Because it smacks of white man's burden when he makes films about poor people of color.

  • DJ | August 21, 2013 10:46 AM

    Fukunaga isn't all white, he's part Japanese, unless of course you don't consider his mixed race status credible enough to identify with, and make films about, people of color.

  • G | August 21, 2013 4:28 AMReply

    But this is an adaptation of the best selling book. It's not a Hollywood made up story. Aren't we all tired of superhero movies and sequels and endless Hollywood romcoms set on NY? Yest, we have to suffer them year after year. I'm looking forward to this film. Only idiots would think that one story reflects a whole nation.

  • Nadia | August 21, 2013 10:10 AM

    It doesn't matter that it's an adaptation of a "best selling book." It's the fact that, of all the other best selling books about contemporary Africa, this is the one that they chose to make. And as Tambay says, this is not just one story. It's a habit. We've seen this story of struggle and suffering in Africa many, many, many times before already, and it's time to try some new stories. Only idiots would think that one story reflects a whole nation id true. But in response to that, first this isn't just one story. It's one of many similar stories that have been told many times already. And second, there are a lot of idiots out there.

  • DJ | August 20, 2013 11:03 PMReply

    Sounds like War Witch redux. And, keen of you to cite Adichie. Just saw her TED Talk the other day. Brilliant woman.

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