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Rendezvous With Rama - finally?

  • 30-01-2022 5:39pm
    Registered Users Posts: 12,965 ✭✭✭✭

    Back in 2012, Morgan Freeman's company Revelations Entertainment owned the movie rights to the classic SF book Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. It's a kind of "first contact" story about a huge interstellar spaceship heading in to our solar system. It's not on a collision course with anything, so the challenge is rather to explore as much of it as possible before it heads off towards other stars. At the time, Freeman said:

    We're still pushing for 'Rendezvous With Rama.' That's a got-to-be-done movie. Just have to figure out how to do it. I've been trying for -- I don't know -- 15 years now to get a script.

    Ten years later, it now looks like it could finally be happening, with Denis Villeneuve planning to direct an adaptation after the second Dune movie. Freeman and business partner Lori McCreary are still to be involved on the production side. He wanted to play Commander Norton, and that could still happen, if he's up for it.

    Clarke co-wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey with Stanley Kubrick, but beyond that the only adaptation of his work for the screen was the Childhood's End miniseries a few years ago. As we saw in that show, some of Clarke's ideas can be so off-the-wall that they can be hard to adapt as stories, and (like Asimov) characters took a back seat to ideas, but Rama is one of his more screen-friendly works in those respects. Villeneuve should be up to the job, I hope.

    From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch’.

    — Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut


  • Registered Users Posts: 31,188 ✭✭✭✭~Rebel~

    Villeneuve is ideal for capturing the sheer scale of it all, whilst still fleshing out the smaller stories and conflicts of the characters themselves, which the book largely ignores.

    Wonder if they'll feel the need to--

    give it more of a concrete ending though. I'd be quite happy for them to leave it as is, but I could see the lack of closure and finale being an early studio note.

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 90,897 Mod ✭✭✭✭Capt'n Midnight

    Depends on whether they want to leave sequel hooks. First one is the best.

    • Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. Clarke,
    • Rama II by Gentry Lee
    • The Garden of Rama by Gentry Lee
    • Rama Revealed by Gentry Lee

  • Registered Users Posts: 31,188 ✭✭✭✭~Rebel~

    Yeah, after seeing the absolutely massive gap between times of writing, and the less-than-great reviews of all the co-written follow ups, I stuck with just the impression left by the first.

    I'm hoping they view this as a standalone film, rather than try to set up another franchise for the sake of it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,987 ✭✭✭conorhal

    This is one of those projects that I'm not surprised to find sitting in development hell.

    Clark's books can by a bit....dry. Rama is a novel with no real character development or plot or antagonist/conflict. It's literally a bunch of scientists wandering around a space ship exploring and then 'awe happens' and the film ends. As first contact stories go it has none of the Spielbergian elements that would appeals to a general audience and the reveals that might have provied a spectacular cinematic experience back in the day, probably feel old hat in an era of 'CGI wonders'.

    I just don't think that 'serious sci-fi' has much of an audience these days and whatever changes that might be made to appeal to a mainstream audience would probably undermine the nature of the stoy itself. It's just one of those inherrently uncommercial stories that studio's struggle to fit into their marketing strategies.

  • Registered Users Posts: 31,188 ✭✭✭✭~Rebel~

    Its sparseness could be its best feature as far as adapting it goes too though... it's like a narrative skeleton of 'cool ship stuff', that you can build whatever character story you want through, much like Arrival was. It'll take someone having some good idea for the character and conflict elements, but the setting and context is pretty awesome to work within.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,811 ✭✭✭silliussoddius

    Not trying to sound pretentious, but I don't think this lends itself to a mainstream release.

    I loved the ending of the book, to me it invoked the Lovecratian idea of cosmic insignificance. Humanity waiting to make contact and when it happens they don't think twice about us, but as a mainstream release it may be seen as anti-climatic.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,965 ✭✭✭✭bnt

    Well, with that director on board, it's not going straight to Netflix, is it? As pointed out, the narrative has room for more character development and subplots, and I would be on board with that. As long as they don't go to the extremes that Apple TV went to with the first season of their Foundation adaptation.

    From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch’.

    — Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,067 ✭✭✭xper

    I enjoyed the first book when I read it about twenty years ago (the sequels were a slog though, I gave up early in book 3). It would make for some spectacle but, yeah, they probably need to put meat on the characters and their stories for a movie. Also would have the potential to be Villeneuve's turkey after a hot streak.

    But if you want a movie about exploring a giant cylindrical spaceship arriving in the solar system, I'd rather see Greg Bear's Eon (lots of sequel / spinoff potential too).