Čapek's War with the Newts to get big-screen treatment
by Martin Kudláč
- The adaptation of the satirical sci-fi by Karel Čapek is in the pre-production stage
Cineuropa recently reported on the legendary Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer as he prepared his new film inspired by the works of the Čapek Brothers and Franz Kafka (see news). Now, Czech writing luminary Karel Čapek's timeless classic War with the Newts is also being prepared for the big screen. A satirical sci-fi from 1936 about the discovery of a new breed of newts that are initially exploited by humans but, as their brains develop, start to rebel and eventually wage a war for global supremacy, it is set to be directed by Czech filmmaker, screenwriter and producer Tomáš Krejčí, who is currently finishing his first Czech fantasy film, The Tower of Dreams. “I read the novel when I was about five; later I discovered the comics by Jan Štepánek and I thought that it would be great if somebody made a film based on the novel,” confesses Krejčí. “After I became a professional filmmaker and still nobody wanted to make the film, I decided to make my childhood dream come true. Soon, more people started to join the project.”
The project, entitled The Salamander War, is in the pre-production stage, with Robert Geisler completing the final version of the script. “We're trying to stay as close as possible to the original novel and to its message,” reveals Krejčí. Besides the completion of the script, the securing of finances and production partners for the project is currently under way. The co-producers already involved in the project come from the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The first shots have already been completed, as well as some VFX tests. The casting is still in progress, while actors Christopher Lloyd, Jan Hraběta, Matthias Hues, Marleen Obradovic and Susan May Pratt have already showed interest in the project. Christoph Schinko, who collaborated on projects such as Alien vs Predators, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, will supervise the special effects, which are expected to take up about 20-25% of the overall budget. Krejčí explains that they prefer to shoot the film on celluloid: “We're not considering a 3D version of the film. Quite the contrary; we intend to shoot on 35mm.”
The director of the award-winning Burning Bush [+see also:
film profile], Agnieszka Holland, is acting as a friendly consultant on The Salamander War. “She’s my guardian angel and the consultant on the project, and I am always curious about her opinions; they enable me to make progress and to develop my skills as well as the project itself,” says Tomáš Krejčí in the hope that Holland will be able to play a cameo role. The project is provisionally set for domestic release in spring 2017.