John Christopher's TRIPODS Novels to be adapted by Alex Proyas

by Joey Paur

This is some pretty cool and interesting news! I looks like a movie based on John Christopher's Tripod novels are finally going to be made into a movie. This series has been screaming for a film adaptation for some time now. The rights have been stuck over at Disney since the 90's, they have obviously done nothing with it. Back in the 80's Tripods ran as a TV show on BBC, but only lasted 2 seasons. Now it looks like Alex Proyas is attached to the project. His most recent film is 'Knowing' which I thought was awful and must have been his brain fart. He is best known for 'The Crow', 'Dark City' and 'I Robot'. It was under my impression that he would be making his 'Dracula:Year Zero' film next but I guess we'll have to wait and see. Proyas recently talked with digitalspy regarding his involvement with 'The Tripods'. But first here is a little description of what the story is about:

The story of The Tripods is post-apocalyptic. Humanity has been conquered and enslaved by "the tripods", unseen alien entities who travel about in gigantic three-legged walking machines (the unsophisticated humans believe the walking machines themselves to be their living overlords). Human society is largely pastoral, with few habitations larger than villages, and what little industry exists is conducted under the watchful presence of the tripods. Lifestyle is reminiscent of the Middle Ages, but artifacts from previous ages are still used, giving individuals and homes a rather anachronistic appearance.

Humans are controlled from the age of 14 by cranial implants called "caps", which suppress curiosity and creativity and leave the recipient placid and docile, incapable of dissent. The caps cause them to adore the tripods as their saviours. Some people whose minds are crushed under the pressure of the cap's hypnotic power become vagrants who wander the countryside shouting nonsense.

When confronted about his involvement with the project Proyas says:

"I am, yeah. Myself and a writer Stuart Hazeldine. He's a Brit and we've collaborated on quite a few things together - some things have not been made, unfortunately. He was also one of the writers on Knowing as well. We're really at the first draft stage with it, but we're both big fans of the books and both read them when we were kids, the perfect age to read them, I guess. They were passed around at my school as kind of like secret knowledge, like 'read this and it will really blow your mind' - which it did. And so we're both coming at it from a point of great passion for those stories. It's interesting, because not many people ask me about them in the States, but I've done a few UK interviews now and every single person asks me about The Tripods because it's such a beloved series of books there. We're trying to stay very faithful to them. We've just done 'The White Mountains' so far, and I guess the hope is that if that movie is well received we'll do the other two books of the trilogy."

For me it's not a good sign that he has brought in the writer of 'Knowing to work on the project because of how bad the film was scripted. Maybe the writer had a brain fart as well, but I want to see these Tripod books adapted in the best possible way. Since the TV show only went 2 season everyone was left with a major cliff hanger. Is Proyas' plan to make a trilogy of films?

"Well I can't promise to make all three because it's really about the first one! But 'The White Mountains' holds up really, really well as a single story and we've made the script obviously so that it works as a single story. But what I can guarantee is that if I get to make two, then I will absolutely make three. It's just getting to number two, because you just never know.

"The thing is, the books were enormously successful and popular in England and in Australia. In Australia they were hugely popular and most Australian kids know them as well. But unfortunately they're not quite as well known in the US, so there is a bit of a battle there. There have been various incarnations when various people have tried to make movies of The Tripods and they've ended up changing the setting to the US and all that sort of stuff, which I think is really stupid. We're retaining the original setting of the novels and I think that's really important because there's something about the sort of medieval, agricultural British society that this works with really well, and when you change it to something in the US it just doesn't make any sense anymore.

I agree, I hate that Hollywood has to think everything needs to be set in America. I love seeing films that are set in different places and different times. The book takes place in Europe lets keep it there.

So there is a bit of a struggle, because when you take a project to a studio in the US, if the studio guys know the material and read it as a kid, then you're already in good shape. If they haven't, and you have to explain that it was really big in England and Australia, then you're on the back foot straight away. But we're working hard at it and the script has come out really well, so hopefully they'll let us do it one day."

When asked about the period setting and when it will take place in the film Proyas responded:

"We're not even doing a date. Through the script you realise eventually that it's set in the future, but we're actually going one step further and totally creating a medieval environment at first. There are some additions to the books that we've made. For example, there is a kind of religious cult that revolves around the Tripods. They have priests in every village and their place of worship is a church with a triangle on its peak, because that's the symbol of the Tripods. So there are a few surreal oddities at first, but until you see the first Tripod and the first capping - very much as it was in the TV series - you don't really know where you are. You're in some weird mythical place and then suddenly you realise you're in a science fiction hybrid and throughout he course of the story you realise it's set in the future and they took over the Earth at some point and subjugated humanity."

Proyas goes on to talk about the characters from the story and and about what we can expect to see make it from the book to the movie.

"Well, we've erm, I'm giving you all my secrets, but we've actually changed Beanpole to a girl. That was a pretty significant change, because I really just didn't get the notion that there'd be these three boys travelling around the countryside and they just really wanted to have a girl in the mix.

It's always nice to throw a girl into the mix.

"Eloise is still there, the red tower is still there, all the beats from the book are still there, but I hope we've added a layer of character development that the books don't In all honesty, as big a fan as I am, the characters are pretty sketchy in the books. So we've tried to give them a level of depth that will hopefully sustain three movies."

I am pretty excited to see these books get made into a movie. I hope it all works out and it gets done. But, you never know, these types of things fall through all the time. This story has been slipping through the cracks for some time now. I guess it all depends on what the head mouse at Disney thinks. What about you? Are you excited to see the Tripod novels get adapted into some movies?

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