Steve McQueen's dream movie begins
Steve McQueen worked on a personal project for years before his death, once it was planned to begin after he starred in Le Mans, but that fell fowl to delays, then an ear problem meant he wouldn't be able to carry out some of the scenes so it never happened. Now though it looks like the movie Yucatan might just be moving forward.
According to The NY Times the film was to be...
A heist film and adventure epic, it would have married the sprawling canvas of films like "The Great Escape" and "Papillon" with the chase-scene histrionics of "Bullitt" (transferred to motorcycles, McQueen's lifelong passion) along with some ancient history and visionary science thrown in for good measure.
McQueen's son Chad discovered sixteen leather bound books of over one and a half thousand hand written pages filled with drawnings, photographs and detailed screenplay notes written by McQueen which were hidden away for years. Chad's best friend Lance Sloan became a Producer for the project pulling in David Heyman as Supervising Producer (Producer from the Harry Potter films) who pulled in Paul Scheuring (Prison Break) as scriptwriter whose script seems to be well on the way...
His screenplay reflects the latest politics, such as the Zapatista uprising, as well as technology — including portable marine submersibles and the practice of injecting carbon-dioxide-eating microorganisms directly into the bloodstream, an experimental process used by competitive divers — that was speculative science when McQueen first included it in the original.
Here's how the NY Times describe the story from the notebooks...
It amounted to a proto-PowerPoint presentation for a finished film, in which an archaeologist from the Museum of London enlists a renegade Navy diver, who works for the oil companies and races motorcycles on the "shores of the Mojave," in a plan to explore the cenotes, caves in the Yucatan jungle that reveal underground lakes. Here, a millennium before, Mayan priests sacrificed virgins covered in gold and precious jewels, a fortune rumored to still adorn their skeletons at the bottom of these sacred wells.
The writing is filled with a reverence for nature and sympathy to the class struggle in Mexico, and there is a motorcycle chase spelled out in illustrated storyboards that McQueen planned as the most elaborate ever committed to film. In William F. Nolan's biography "McQueen," the actor describes the film as follows: "Our story will center on a guy who takes his cycle into the Mexican wilds on a personal treasure hunt. Naturally, I'll play the guy on the cycle."
Sounds quite interesting, but I wonder how much of the original ideas and themes are really going to stay with the project and how much is set to be lost in the modern studio system and where there's just not the same passion and power behind the movie anymore. Although Heyman does command some weight, it's not as much as McQueen would have when he was pushing this project. I wonder who could give this project the backing it deserves?