Author Joe Haldeman just announced on his Livejournal that the film adaptation of his excellent The Forever War, a science fiction novel that serves as an allegory for the Vietnam War, now has a screenwriter attached to it. Now, for the sake of context, director Ridley Scott has been threatening to make an adaptation of The Forever War for, uh, a while (Must! Resist! Obvious Pun!) and with this announcement, it looks like the film may finally be moving forward.

Though he only obliquely alludes to it, Haldeman says that the film's script will be written by someone " with good credits--like, Unforgiven." That could only mean David Webb Peoples, the sole credited screenwriter of Clint Eastwood's inimitable and much-ballyhooed western.

It's interesting, though hardly shocking, that Haldeman should isolate Webb's most prestigious solo screenwriting credit. I mean, he's not likely to name-drop Paul W.S. Anderson's Soldier, Peoples's most recent script, solo or otherwise (I like Soldier but c'mon, the script isn't what makes it fun, y'know?), though it probably has more in common with The Forever War than Unforgiven does. No what's interesting is Haldeman's emphasized a solo credit over one of the films Peoples's has collaborated on with others, like, say, 12 Monkeys or even Scott's Blade Runner. Makes me think that he's really pulling for this guy to make a good adaptation.

Which is a little surprising given the little tidbit he lets loose in his Livejournal entry next, namely the fact that he was never approached to write a script for the film: "Incidentally, I wasn't asked to submit a screenplay, though I've been a member
of the Writers Guild for almost thirty years and have solid production credits. No surprise. They don't want the book's author saying 'Hold it! I wrote the book, and that's not the way it goes.'"

Not for nothing, but Haldeman, an experienced and talented prose writer on his own terms, is also the screenwriter of Robot Jox (yet another reason why he deserves accolades, pats on the back, money beyond his wildest dreams, etc.) but hasn't worked on a script since then. That was 20 years ago. Admittedly, that's probably not a factor in this decision. More likely Haldeman is right in speculating that they don't want too many chefs in the kitchen, especially not one who can claim a trump card as big as original authorial intent like Haldeman can. Stinks that the project (which is on its fourth draft, mind you) may already be dictated by a need to be simple instead of smart and, like, complicated.
categories Movies, Cinematical