To a theater near you
By Fiachra Gibbons
May 17, 2003
An action adventure with a cast of thousands about the Persian
emperor Cyrus is set to become the most expensive British film ever
Oscar-nominated director Alex Jovey, who has only made one previous
feature, hopes to start shooting the $80m (£49m) epic in December.
It is the first film about the shepherd boy who founded an empire
that stretched from the Mediterranean to India.
Jovey, 32, said he wanted to create spectacular battle scenes reminiscent
of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers but with the sweep of Lawrence
of Arabia "and the kind of authenticity you can only get by
using thousands of extras". He is amazed that the story of
Cyrus's rise in the sixth century BC has gone untold on celluloid.
"He was an astonishing character who is mentioned in the
Bible and the Koran. He's a kind of Robin Hood, a champion of human
rights, who drew up a kind of bill of rights for his people - a
precursor of the Magna Carta called the Cylinder of Cyrus - which
is in the British Museum.
"As a child he was condemned to death by his grandfather,
who was a king, but was spirited away and raised by peasants. A
birthmark set him apart as a prince and he led a rebellion against
the emperor. He was surrounded at all times by a fearsome group
of 1,000 guards called the Immortals."
Soldiers could only join this corps if an existing member had been
killed in battle.
Jovey - who produced and directed the thriller Sorted -
said the five-month shoot would be divided between Britain and probably
Pakistan. "It may seem like a huge amount of money, but the
budget is very low for an epic of this sort. There aren't many big
films shooting in Britain at the moment either, so putting together
a good crew at a reasonable price is not as difficult as it used
to be," he said.
Finance, he claimed, was solid, with distributors already keen
to buy into the story, which turns on a love triangle and Cyrus's
Jovey said he was in talks with several internationally known actors,
but said the project was not "dependent on big names".
This article was published in the May 17 issue of The
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