Friday, October 06, 2006

Democracy in America, The Movie

I've got this idea for a movie. The great thing is, you'd only have to pay for adapting the book into a script. No copyright, author's family doesn't have a good lawyer. The downside is, the title is a real put-off. But we can change it, hear me out. Picture this: it's the early 1800s, and a fresh-faced French kid named Alexis de Tocqueville, think early Keanu Reeves, gets real curious about America. He's got nothing better to do, so he hops a steamer to come see it. Ok, sailing ship. Whatever. America's brand new. Keanu's a hotshot, wants to really get under its skin, find its motiviation, its special-ness. Now, I have long suspected this de Tokester came here looking for cheap sex (what young Frenchman has not?), and yet he doesn't write one word about it in his book. Disappointing, but think about what spicing the script up with an affair does for selling the movie. Except for lacking the love interest, it's a great book, a journey of discovery. A private travelogue about public awakenings. Awakenings! We take that inner journey of discovery and express it outwards. One word, now, and listen good: Scarlett. Jo. Hansson.

De Tocqueville starts out with this notion of the United States having it so good because it was new and far away from Europe, which was very screwed up at the time. And there is some truth there. The life expectancy of a male in Manchester, England (steel town) in the 1790s was maybe a scrawny 23 years old, and in America it was more than double that. Anyhow he comes here, sees the birthplace of liberty in Philadelphia, goes to parties, sees New Orleans, heads inland. Travels all around, sees America with its undies on and off. Goes back to France to his nice apartment and his mom's estate.
Has an arranged fiancee, really cute girl, up-and-coming actress.

But: he keeps thinking, in fact he can't stop--it turns out America and the essence of its people, its Scarlett, got under
his skin and not the other way around. He's in love, you see. He decides there's something different about Americans, there's this weird energy about them, and he starts to think it's because they're willing to risk more than Europeans. Because they want something better. He starts to believe Americans self-selected themselves for enterprise, and he sees the country's future greatness. He sees the industry and the conquests and freeing the slaves. And we see all that through Scarlett. Who's maybe pregnant. So he tosses. Turns. Ditches his fiancee. Hops the steamer again and comes back to see Scarlett, they smash together like two taxi-cabs, he sweeps her off her feet and they live in America. Passionate kissing and endless possibilities. End of story, roll credits.

So, why not a movie? We make a bundle and we get five or six Oscars. It'd be like Pepi Le Peu meets Audrey Hepburn meets Jack Kerouac's 'On the Road.' Who also, I think, was French. Yeah, I know Coppola's already picked it up and the Motorcycle Diaries guy is directing. That's gonna flop, and this has absolutely nothing to do with that. And you know what? Let's throw Dustin Hoffman into the deal to play Andrew Jackson, I hear he's looking for a project.

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