I refuse to call this a remake because I don’t think you can remake something that was originally a work of literature. But call it what you will, here’s the low-down: Steven Speilberg and his team at DreamWorks are looking to adapt John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes Of Wrath.
Spielberg and his team are right now in talks with the Steinbeck estate for the rights to the book. They want to adapt it as a new feature film with Spielberg to produce, but not direct. Next year is the 75th anniversary of The Grapes Of Wrath, so if Spielberg can get the rights and produce the film before the end of the year, it will coincide perfectly. Spielberg’s team actually beat out Robert Redford and producer David Kennedy (Dark Shadows), who were looking to make the book into a miniseries for FX. Tough luck, Bob.
For those of us who only know Grapes Of Wrath as an answer to an American History test question, here’s a little primer. The story takes place at the height of the Depression. It follows the Joad family as they pull up their roots from their Oklahoma farm and travel west to California in search of work. It’s not the happiest book in the world, as things go from bad to worse to even worse than that, but is rightly touted as a probing (and damning) examination into the Depression era suffering of thousands of families. John Ford famously made it into a film in 1940. Though his version had a more upbeat ending.
Now seems a good time to bring The Grapes Of Wrath back into the American consciousness. Steinbeck wrote the book as a novel of the human spirit, yes, but it has an un-ignorable political dimension, a criticism of the stratification of American society and the people who suffer and starve through no fault of their own. With Spielberg as a producer, this could be an interesting and topical film.