Director Marc Forster: Charting a New Course to "Neverland"
- Thursday, November 18, 2004
He doesn’t make the kind of films that Christians would normally flock to see. But just because Marc Forster directed “Monster’s Ball” – an acclaimed but controversial movie featuring a brazen sex scene between Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton – doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of making a family film.
In fact, “Finding Neverland,” Forster’s latest project, is proof that the young German-born director is capable of a wide variety of films.
““Monster’s Ball” is one of those darker tales of life,” Forster said, during a recent promotional tour. “It was about forgiveness and breaking the cycle of violence, and I didn’t want the sex scene to be gratuitous. I felt like it was necessary, because it showed who these characters were.”
With “Finding Neverland,” however, Forster said that he wanted to try something entirely different.
“When I read the script, it touched me in a profound way about the music of life, immortality and reality versus fantasy. There was something magical about it,” he explained.
In the film, Johnny Depp plays Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie, author of “Peter Pan.” The story focuses on Barrie’s boredom with the confines of traditional theatre, which had begun to permeate his productions, frustrating his London audiences. One day, while walking in Kensington Garden, Barrie meets the Llewelyn Davies family: four fatherless boys and their bohemian, recently-widowed mother (Kate Winslet).
Touched by the boy’s search for hope after their father’s death, Barrie befriends the grieving family – much to the dismay of his socialite wife (Radha Mitchell) and the children’s uptight grandmother (Julie Christie). But together, through the adventuresome games that Barrie creates, they are finally able to embrace life once again.
The film was adapted from the award-winning stage play, “The Man Who Would Be Peter Pan,” by Allan Knee, and is inspired by true events in Barrie’s life, including his friendship with the Llewelyn Davies family, the source of Barrie’s inspiration for “Peter Pan.”
Chosen to direct the film by Miramax Studios, Forster immediately connected with the story, which harked back to his childhood in the Swiss Alps near Davos. While his physician father worked long hours, Forster’s mother traveled the world, leaving her sons in the care of a nanny. Forster discovered solace in games of make-believe.
“I spent a lot of time trying to escape my day-to-day life,” he said. “It left me very lonely.”
A 1993 graduate of New York University’s film school, Forster received critical acclaim for his offbeat musical “Loungers,” which won the Audience Award at the 1996 Slamdance International Film Festival. Forster’s second film, “Everything Put Together,” which deals with the ostracism a young mother faces when her baby dies from S.I.D.S., premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and earned the young filmmaker the prestigious Movado Someone to Watch/Independent Spirit Award.
But it was his third film, “Monster’s Ball,” that solidified Forster’s status as a director capable of portraying intense issues with unflinching honesty. The story also earned Berry her first Oscar, granting her icon status as the first African-American woman to take home the golden statue.
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