Sony Developing Epic Adaptation of Xenophon's Anabasis
by Alex Billington
August 2, 2008
Columbia Pictures is developing a film based on Anabasis, a memoir written around 400 B.C. by Xenophon, a Greek soldier who was among 10,000 elite mercenaries who attacked the Persian Empire and who led them back through hostile terrain after their leader was betrayed and slain. We already know that the success of 300 helped move this project along and Sony is adapting it officially as "an epic action film." The script is being written by Robert Schenkkan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who just wrote the HBO miniseries The Pacific as well as penned the screenplay for the TV movies The Andromeda Strain and Spartacus. Although this isn't exactly the most exciting news, I'm sure we can expect to hear a lot more about this in the future as Sony attempts to create an epic success out of another historical tale.
Sony Picture's CEO Michael Lynton and Schenkkan both read the book in college and took an interest in adapting it, however it wasn't until the success of 300 last year that it actually came together. "Crazy tribes, brutal terrain, vicious combat, hellacious weather -- Anabasis is full of astounding endurance and heroism," explains Jonathan Sharp, one of the producers. The memoir is an ancient story written after Xenophon led the 10,000 Greek mercenaries back through hostile terrain to the Black Sea after their leader, Cyrus the Younger, had been killed (you can read more over on Wikipedia). The producer involved in the project are all either authors of historical books or historical consults on projects like HBO's "Rome." Apparently this ancient tale even inspired the cult classic The Warriors, although I don't really know how.
I chose to write about this news because I'm very interested in epic historical tales and intrigued by Hollywood's new-found fascination with ancient Greek stories. While 300 will always be remembered as the original epic film that brought this new wave of "sword and sandal" films into Hollywood, I'm wondering which of the big ones will end up being better, hence why I wanted to mention this project. I'm not personally familiar with the details and haven't ever read Anabasis, but it sounds quite intriguing. Schenkkan as a writer isn't very reassuring, but as long as they get the right director, this could potentially be a big hit. Is anyone looking forward to these epic Greek tales?