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Lynne Ramsay's Next Film Is A Science-Fiction Take On 'Moby Dick'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist October 21, 2011 at 9:09AM

As we've documented more than once here, it has been far, far too long since we had a film from Scottish director Lynne Ramsay. She made her debut with the excellent "Ratcatcher" in 1999, and followed it with the even better "Morvern Callar" in 2002. But since then, not much -- the actress worked on her version of "The Lovely Bones" for several years to no avail, and this year marks the ninth since her last film was released. Fortunately, it also marks the release of her third film, the strong adaptation of Lionel Shriver's novel "We Need To Talk About Kevin," starring Tilda Swinton.
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As we've documented more than once here, it has been far, far too long since we had a film from Scottish director Lynne Ramsay. She made her debut with the excellent "Ratcatcher" in 1999, and followed it with the even better "Morvern Callar" in 2002. But since then, not much -- the actress worked on her version of "The Lovely Bones" for several years to no avail, and this year marks the ninth since her last film was released. Fortunately, it also marks the release of her third film, the strong adaptation of Lionel Shriver's novel "We Need To Talk About Kevin," starring Tilda Swinton.

The film hits theaters in the U.K. today, and friend of The Playlist @rowanwoods tipped us off to the director's interview on the top-rated Simon Mayo & Mark Kermode BBC 5Live film review radio show, where Ramsay revealed for the first time some rock-solid details about her next film, and it's likely not what you were expecting it to be. She told us when we spoke to her in Toronto that she had two films competing to be her next project, one a Glasgow-set film at Warp Films, the other a bigger-budgeted sci-fi project, which seemed further off. But as it turns out, the sci-fi picture looks to go next, and it's actually a take on one of the greatest novels of all time.

The director revealed to the film world's most bequiffed film critic that her sci-fi project is set to be a retelling of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." "This is really the first time I've spoken about, it's been very under wraps," she said, before spilling the beans. "It's more or less inspired by 'Moby Dick,' which is a fantastic novel, an American classic, but funnily enough a lot of people haven't read it. So I'm working on something loosely based on that. And it's science-fiction, so we're taking the premise into the galaxy. So we're creating a whole new world, and a new alien. A very psychological piece, mainly taking place in the ship, a bit like 'Das Boot,' so it's quite claustrophobic."

While this might sound like a big shift from 'Kevin,' Ramsay explains that there's something of a link, as well as being an almost autobiographical idea. "It's another monster movie, cos the monster's Ahab. For a filmmaker, it's really interesting, because it's about this mad captain taking everyone on this crazy journey to their death, from his need to revenge. Making a film is like a crazy journey, and sometimes you go into dark waters, and you see some casualties along the way. It's fascinating stuff, because there's so much in it."

The director confirms that she's in the writing stages, but it sounds like she's also deep into design, and even animatics/pre-viz. "I'm still scripting, but I'm doing a lot of visual scripting now, so designing, pulling in different parts. What's great with the new technology, first of all I made a trailer. Before you know I might have a little mood board film. You can start to think about the sound design fairly early on." She also says that she's hoping the film will be a bigger budget than what she's used to, but also suggests it can be done relatively thriftily, telling Kermode & Mayo "I'm so used to low budgets, you find ways to do things economically."

It's certainly not what we were expecting from Ramsay, but the themes of "Moby Dick" are certainly something that she could get her teeth into, and the idea of a science-fiction film seen through her prism is a hugely exciting one. There's no clear time frame on the film, but fingers crossed that this'll get before cameras for a 2013 release. Watch the interview extract below, and listen to the show here.

This article is related to: Films, Lynne Ramsay, We Need To Talk About Kevin


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