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