Keep­ing the fire burn­ing

> Di­rec­tor Ron Howard talks about do­ing jus­tice to Dan Brown’s much-loved books

The Sun (Malaysia) - - THE BIG PICTURE -

RON HOWARD ( be­low) has a suit­ably con­cise way of sum­ming up ex­actly what it was like to di­rect Tom Hanks lead­ing a stel­lar cast in the ea­gerly-awaited thriller In­ferno ( above), open­ing here on Oct 13.

There were plenty of chal­lenges, of course, not least film­ing in and around his­toric lo­ca­tions in Florence where there are, un­der­stand­ably, pun­ish­ing time con­straints.

Of­ten, too, they were work­ing in sear­ing sum­mer heat and chore­ograph­ing com­plex ac­tion se­quences fea­tur­ing a host of ex­tras and dar­ing stunts.

But most of all, it was all about do­ing jus­tice to a Dan Brown novel that is loved by mil­lions and mak­ing it into a riv­et­ing film. Howard and Hanks, who plays Har­vard sym­bol­o­gist Robert Lang­don, have been joint keep­ers of the cin­e­matic le­gacy of Brown’s best-sell­ing books for many years now, hav­ing made the hugely-suc­cess­ful The Da Vinci Code back in 2006 and An­gels & De­mons in 2009. Each one, says Howard, has pre­sented its own unique op­por­tu­ni­ties, and was, at least in that re­gard, ex­actly the same as its il­lus­tri­ous pre­de­ces­sors. “These films are hard work,” he says. “And you feel a lot of re­spon­si­bil­ity be­cause they’re books that peo­ple love. But you know, they re­ally are thrilling life ex­pe­ri­ences.” is the per­fect ex­am­ple. In con­trast with the first two films where Lang­don had to try and crack a mys­tery rooted deeply in the past, this one tack­les a ban­gup-to-the-minute theme – over­pop­u­la­tion. Ben Foster plays Be­trand Zo­brist, a bril­liant sci­en­tist who is con­vinced that mankind is head­ing for catas­tro­phe be­cause of a rapidly-in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion.

He be­lieves that the only way to save the world is to wipe out mil­lions of peo­ple by un­leash­ing a deadly virus.

Lang­don is the only man who can stop him, search­ing for clues in 13th-cen­tury Ital­ian poet Dante’s epic work, Di­vine Com­edy, which be­gins with In­ferno and his night­mar­ish de­pic­tion of hell.

The story hooked in Howard im­me­di­ately. “I felt very ex­cited about this op­por­tu­nity cre­atively as a di­rec­tor be­cause In­ferno com­bines two things: an idea that an au­di­ence can con­nect with in a very mod­ern con­tem­po­rary way, and a thriller that is driven by some­thing that we all think about.

“It’s a con­tro­ver­sial idea that doesn’t deal with the past – it’s all about the present.”

“What Robert Lang­don rep­re­sents is the ap­pli­ca­tion of bril­liance. Zo­brist is a ge­nius, un­de­ni­ably, and is de­cid­ing to take it all into his hands.

“And Lang­don is rea­son­ing for us­ing our in­tel­lec­tual power to work to­gether to try and solve these prob­lems and not take this kind of cri­sis in one’s own hands.

“And that’s the cen­tral ten­sion in the story.”

In­ferno, says Howard, is a movie that will both en­ter­tain and pro­voke dis­cus­sion.

“The Dan Brown sto­ries com­bine these but­ton-push­ing ideas that of­fer the au­di­ence two things – there’s the tempo, the pace, there’s the clue path; and there’s this feel­ing that you’re go­ing to have some­thing to talk about when the movie is over.” – Sony Pic­tures Re­leas­ing In­ter­na­tional (Malaysia)

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