Kenneth Branagh Set to Direct 'Italian Shoes' Adaptation in Sweden

October 19, 2011
Source: Variety

Kenneth Branagh

Branagh is heading back behind the lens. Variety reports that a Swedish production company called Yellow Bird (filmography), also partnered with Left Bank Pictures, is developing an adaptation of Swedish author Henning Mankell's novel Italian Shoes. Now set to direct is Kenneth Branagh, taking him back to his more dramatic roots following working on Thor. There's some extra buzz behind this, because Yellow Bird is the company the last adapted The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Sweden first, and this is another high profile project for them. Branagh also worked on Henning Mankell's Wallander series for the BBC before.

Henning Mankell's book Italian Shoes, first published in 2009, follows the tale of a lonely, elderly former surgeon named Fredrik Welin reunited with an old flame he had abandoned many years ago. Dying of cancer, she asks him to fulfill a promise he made nearly 40 years ago to take her to a pool in a forest where he had spent a day with his father when he was young. Another mystery. "Why is former surgeon Fredrik Welin hiding on his grandparents' island? Can anything break him loose from his self-imposed exile?" These two questions guide this "short, beautiful, and ultimately life-affirming novel" (via Amazon). Writer Richard Cottan (of Margaret, Mankell's "Wallander") is adapting the screenplay for Yellow Bird.

Branagh has a few other projects in development as well, namely The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society adaptation and The Boys in the Boat adaptation, now he adds another adaptation to the line-up. If Yellow Bird can actually get this going soon it may indeed be the next project Branagh directs after Thor. I'm not familiar with the story, but it sounds very interesting and worthy of an adaptation, especially at the hands of Branagh, who has a sensibility for this kind of intrigue. We'll keep you updated on the adaptation.

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