James Vanderbilt To Adapt Red Riding For Ridley Scott

James Vanderbilt, the man who was responsible for writing, in my opinion, David Fincher‘s best film: Zodiac and the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man is now set to adapt the Red Riding novels for Ridley Scott to direct. For those who don’t know, the novels were originally made into a trio of movies Red Riding: 1974, 1980 and 1983 for British TV and were then theatrically released in the US. Ridley Scott and his production company Scott Free then acquired the rights to adapt them for the screen and presumably shifting the location to the US.

Now I am a bit cautious about these adaptations and setting it in the US. The novels written by David Peace (not Pearce as other publications have it) were based in a very particular period in West Yorkshire where there was a manhunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, a serial killer who killed 13 women, most of whom were prostitutes. The real culprit Peter Sutcliffe terrorized the West Yorkshire area for 5 years between 1975 – 1980 and this serves as a backdrop to Peace’s stories. The novels 1977 and 1980 centered in on the manhunt in a fictional manner, with the other two novels 1974 and 1983 book ending the story which is largely about police corruption.

The stories are close to my heart for a number of reasons. It is based in and around the area I live and know and while I wasn’t alive while those killings took place, my parents were and they still have very powerful memories of that very oppressive time. So consequently I know a lot about the case, also (because you asked for my life history) my ex-headteacher’s father headed up the Ripper enquiry for over 18 months. My father also knew one of the Ripper victims.

So a lot of my response was based on my own experience of living in West Yorkshire and having that history there. They were very particular films. Taking it out of context would in a way ruin the cumulative power and resonance that the original movies had. And secondly those original films were absolute masterpieces, grim but masterpieces.

They were superbly cast, written and directed, Scott and Vanderbilt have a lot to live up. Especially when they begin to put together their massive ensemble cast of numerous characters. The original series has the likes of Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, David Morrissey, Peter Mullan, Andrew Garfield, Sean Bean all of whom did terrific work and were on the top of their game. I remain interested in how they are going to pull it off and what route they will take with such complex stories but I just don’t want it to happen.

It could turn out well. Vanderbilt managed the sprawl and mass of characters superbly in Zodiac and Ridley Scott knows how to make a stylish crime drama. I’m still concerned as to what the point of it all is though. (The Hollywood Reporter)