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Paul Greengrass' delayed Martin Luther King Jr biopic Memphis may be his next project

11.19.2012by:
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The long delayed Martin Luther King Jr biopic from Paul Greengrass looks like it is back in development and may be the director's next project.

Greengrass has not directed a film since GREEN ZONE in 2010. He was going to be making the Somali pirate movie A CAPTAIN'S DUTY, but that seems to have stalled as well. His MLK movie, MEMPHIS, was shut down at Universal a couple years ago due to pressure from the King family regarding the content of the screenplay.

According to Deadline, the King family objected to the depiction of infidelity. I read the script when Greengrass tried to make the movie last time around, and felt it was Oscar caliber stuff that was a powerful testament to King’s struggle and his sacrifice, even if he was portrayed as an imperfect human being.

If there is one thing that I hate in movies about historical figures, it is when they show them as flawless. People like Lincoln, MLK, George Washington, John F Kennedy, and George W. Bush are all made into larger than life figures. I thought Oliver Stone's W was going to demonize Bush but actually made me feel bad for the guy. Granted, that was not exactly an unbiased portrait of a historical figure.

Much like Steven Spielberg's LINCOLN, Greengrass' MEMPHIS would focus on the final part of King's life. The story depicts Dr. King’s final days as he struggled to organize a protest march on behalf of striking black municipal sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was slain. That storyline is juxtaposed with an intense manhunt for King’s assassin James Earl Ray, involving some of the federal authorities who, at Hoover’s direction, had dogged King’s every step with wiretaps and whispering campaigns before the civil rights leader’s death.

I am very intrigued to see how this project will go. No word on when shooting will begin, but likely sometime in 2013.

Extra Tidbit: I wonder how soon before there are complaints from the NAACP that a white European is directing the story of a black American as important as MLK.
Source: Deadline

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8:48AM on 11/20/2012
A MLK biopic is most welcome. A society needs constant reminders of its greatest historical figures. And, I cannot remember immediately the last great MLK biopic.
I am of two minds about sanitizing King's life. On one hand, a culture's legendary figures should be glorified. And, great men were men like the rest of us, and they deserve compassion and mercy in their public depictions. Also, some people cannot handle truthful history; they need the version that they already comfortably know.
On
A MLK biopic is most welcome. A society needs constant reminders of its greatest historical figures. And, I cannot remember immediately the last great MLK biopic.
I am of two minds about sanitizing King's life. On one hand, a culture's legendary figures should be glorified. And, great men were men like the rest of us, and they deserve compassion and mercy in their public depictions. Also, some people cannot handle truthful history; they need the version that they already comfortably know.
On the other hand, revisionist history is revisionist history, and revisionist history has its bad reputation for many reasons. I have one particular reason that revisionist and sanitized history drives me nuts. I am a decently intelligent person and a somewhat complex thinker. Therefore, I can handle and process character imperfections (e.g. saints and icons who were secretly womanizers, drug addicts, domestic abusers, etc.), outdated ideologies (e.g. Manifest Destiny and other forms of American imperialism) , outdated language (e.g. racial epithets that were once commonly used), and moral ambiguity (e.g. the U.S. has done some shocking shit during war time that does not jibe well with today's mutlitculturalism). I do not want to see 1960s Americans, or any past Americans, presented as actually 2012 Americans. I am not really studying and experiencing history with these redacted characters, now am I?
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7:33AM on 11/20/2012

Alex Maidy

Is "A Captain's Duty" different from the movie Captain Philips starring Tom Hanks and directed by Paul Greengrass, slated to be coming out in October next year or are you saying that movie's been put on hold? Was really looking forward to it.
Is "A Captain's Duty" different from the movie Captain Philips starring Tom Hanks and directed by Paul Greengrass, slated to be coming out in October next year or are you saying that movie's been put on hold? Was really looking forward to it.
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8:19PM on 11/19/2012

ET: Amistad and The Color Purple

I don't remember anyone kicking up a fuss over a Jewish man directing those.
But if I'm wrong, please correct me.
I don't remember anyone kicking up a fuss over a Jewish man directing those.
But if I'm wrong, please correct me.
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