In November, when it was announced that the slavery-era novel won the prestigious National Book Award For Fiction last year, I joked that, given the then interest in slave-themed films and TV series on both the big and small screens, this had a very good chance of being adapted to film as well.
Described as a work of humor, here’s a longer description of the novel via Amazon.com:
Abolitionist John Brown calls her “Little Onion,” but her real name is Henry. A slave in Kansas mistaken for a girl due to the sackcloth smock he was wearing when Brown shot his master, the light-skinned, curly-haired 12-year-old ends up living as a young woman, most often encamped with Brown’s renegade band of freedom warriors as they traverse the country, raising arms and ammunition for their battle against slavery. Though they travel to Rochester, New York, to meet with Frederick Douglass and Canada to enlist the help of Harriet Tubman, Brown and his ragtag army fail to muster sufficient support for their mission to liberate African Americans, heading inexorably to the infamously bloody and pathetic raid on Harpers Ferry.
This afternoon brings news that Jaden Smith and Liev Schreiber are set to star in a big screen adaptation of the novel, which McBride will produce.
The project, itself also based on a book, is expected to be 6 to 8 hours in length.
Clearly there’s interest in on-screen tellings of John Brown’s story.
Long-time readers of S&A will remember that, in 2009, prior to Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino revealed his plans to make a film about John Brown; although his was to be more of a reimagining of Brown’s story, as only Tarantino could tell it.
Since James McBride worked with Spike Lee on two films in the last 6 years (Red Hook Summer, Miracle at St. Anna), and Spike really hasn’t made his own slavery-set film yet, which I’m actually surprised by, maybe this – The Good Lord Bird – could be the project that brings them back together.
Or maybe not…
Has anyone read the novel yet? And if you have, thoughts?