Deadline has reported that the Oscar winning writing team behind Brokeback Mountain will be writing two Westerns, one for British director Ridley Scott and one for Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper. They will be produced under Scott’s production label Scott Free Productions.
First up is The Color of Lightning which is based on the novel by Paulette Jiles, this will be directed by Scott and is about:
A freed slave named Britt Johnson who has relocated his wife and three kids to Texas with the aim of starting a new life and a freight business. But while he’s away, Comanche and Kiowa natives raid his home, kill his oldest son and kidnap the rest of his family. Swearing revenge, Johnson crafts his plan over one long winter.
It is not known when Ridley Scott will tackle this considering he’s hard at work with the upcoming Alien prequels. Presumably considering his strong relationship with 20th Century Fox has helped getting this Western on their radar. Scott is clearly interested in the Western genre, some will remember that a couple of years ago he was struggling to bring Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian to the screen, which then fell out of his hands due to the difficulty of getting a decent screen vision. With this I can see an exciting revisionist vision from the very talented filmmaker.
The other project is The Empire of the Summer Moon based on a novel by SC Gwynne, will be about the true story of:
Comanche warrior Quanah, who held the westward expansion of settlers at bay for 40 years, and led to the formation of the Texas Rangers to fight against them. He steeled the Comanches to become ferocious warriors, and the primary impediment to Western expansion.
This will be helmed by Crazy Heart‘s Scott Cooper, with no distributor mentioned as of yet it is likely due to the success of his previous film and the connections at Scott Free, he’ll work with Fox Searchlight on bringing this epic to the screen.
With these two films and the release of the Coen Brothers True Grit imminent, we could be experiencing here the rebirth of the Western. Of course a lot is perhaps dependent on the success of the Coen’s reinvention of Charles Portis’ classic novel but I think this dying genre could be back for the new decade.