Saturday, September 01, 2012

Will Smith is making a Bible Movie... with Vampires

The Fresh Prince is now entering the "I've made A LOT of money for you motherfuckers so now I get to do whatever the FUCK I want!" phase of his career (his next big project: a father/son scifi action/epic with Jayden written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan); and if you need further proof of this The Wrap reports that he's gotten a greenlight to produce, star in and possibly even direct "The Legend of Cain" - which apparently retells the Old Testament tale of Cain and Able with "a vampire twist."

Okay, so... this sounds batshit insane as a film project ("what if Bible Character X was a VAMPIRE!!??" is almost a parody of controversy-bait movie pitches) but the disillusioned Catholic School student and Altar Boy in me can actually see how this might be an interesting premise.

If you're not up on your Ancient Jewish religious/folk traditions (though this particular story is also held as relevant/important by Christianity, Islam, Mormonism and other Abrahamic-offshoots), Cain and Abel are supposed to have been two brothers (twins in some tellings) sired by Adam and Eve at some point after they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. The specific circumstances vary from source to source, but the main point of their story is that Cain kills Abel in a jealous rage when God rejects Cain's burnt-offering of fruit but accepts Abel's sacrificial offering of a lamb - thus turning his brother into the First Martyr and himself (Cain) into the first human being to commit the sin of murder... and the subsequently the first human to be Cursed by God as punishment.

Here's where this gets interesting, to me: Given that this is an Antediluvian Biblical account (read: takes place prior to The Flood and Noah's Ark) the story of what happens to Cain AFTER the murder vary wildly from tradition to tradition, to the extent that even many "traditional" sects see it more as a symbolic account than a literal one. In any case, Cain's punishment takes different forms in every telling. Chiefly, he's supernaturally blocked from ever being able to farm or cultivate the earth again (having spilled his brother's blood there) and is commanded to wander the world ever-after as a scavenger. Moreover, he's branded (sometimes literally) with "The Mark of Cain" which has a troubling history as certain faiths decided that black (as in African) skin was evidence of said Mark and used it as pretense for racial segregation (most mainstream Christian faiths, however, held that whatever descendants Cain DID have were among those killed during The Flood.)

BUT! Some other, more mystical Judeo/Christian/Islamic traditions hold that Cain's "wander forever" curse meant forever as in immortality. Considering that, and considering how prominent the imagery of blood (the Bible describes the poisoning of Cain's land as the result of the earth having been "made to drink his brother's blood) is in the story it wouldn't be that far of a leap for this film to go with "The Curse and Mark of Cain was actually that he became the first Vampire" as it's big-idea twist.

Amusingly, if Smith does decide to play Cain himself and casts the remainder of the characters accordingly (how great would it be if Alfonso Ribeiro played Abel??), making it into a vampire movie is just about the ONLY thing that could distract from the innevitable firestorm of "I'm not a racist BUUUUUUUT...." protests at the idea of Biblical characters being portrayed by Black actors.

22 comments:

Noah said...

Cain being the first vampire is actually a key part of the lore for Old World of Darkness.

Anonymous said...

If you've never heard of a setting where Cain is a Vampire, you're in for a treat:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampire_%28World_of_Darkness%29

Darwin said...

Will Smith can go suck off a Scientologist, and choke on the long ropes of thick and salty semen.

Joseph Pannoni said...

The playstaton game legacy of cain comes to mind. Will havr to do some research. Great read.

Joshua the Anarchist said...

So who wants to make bets on whether this will be an attempt at some classy "take me seriously" surreal art film deal, or just basically Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter with a bigger budget and more clout? Personally I'm hoping for a little of both. Some kinda dark, gory, campy "Bram Stoker's Dracula but in biblical times" thing.

Though the race issue reminds me of how much I'm looking forward to the day when someone has the balls to make a Jesus movie with an actual middle-eastern man playing Jesus.

Muthsarah said...

Isn't Smith about five years past the "I can do anything I want and eff anyone else" phase of his career? What was his last big successful film? Hancock? He needs to tread a bit more carefully these days. He's a few years past his (apparent) peak. He should be avoiding the risky, controversial stuff, unless he's been managing his money well and thus has nothing to worry about. At the very least, he should be avoiding the sacrligeous stuff. He's gonna burn through all his years of Hollywood goodwill in a single movie if he's not careful. Big bomb + Big hit to his Q rating = Mel Gibsonian exile.

Hollywood is still ultimately a "well, what have you done for me LATELY" industry. Sure, Will has been a reliably cash cow for over a decade, but this isn't an industry known for its long-term loyalty to newfound has-beens. And Will's in very real danger of becoming a has-been, if he isn't careful. He's still plenty charismatic, he can still do comedy, and he still looks remarkably young, but nobody, no matter how huge they once were, can burn their bridges with a costly, risky, image-wrecking financial failure. And this movie...seems like a bit of a risk.

Though I do hate to bring it up, as it's not DIRECTLY applicable, do you remember the last big-budget semi-Biblical spectacle pic? Hint: it starred Steve Carrell. I don't recall it doing too well....

P.S. I thought the whole Bible/black-people-as-justifiable-slaves thing was based on the mark of Ham, not of Cain. That would be APRES-diluvian, I think. Though, despite it all, I might see the movie if Carlton was cast in it. If you're gonna do this, have some goddamn fun with it. If Smith went back to his old, fun self, I would totally jump in the wayback machine and join him. I miss the Fresh Prince.

Aiddon said...

I was more interesting in hearing that apparently Shamalamadingdong is still allowed to make movies

felipe said...

This is the exact premise of the world of Vampire: the Masquerade. If you don't play Pen and Paper RPGs you can remember it by the RPG games Vampire: Redemption e Vampire:the Bloodlines, also a poor tv series Kindred: the embrace.

There is a great book about Cain as an immortal sinner, "Cain" of José Saramago, a nobel prize writter and one of the biggest names of 20 century literature.

Lee Kalba said...

Heh, yeah, first reaction was Vampire role playing game.
There's a lovely little supplement book, but I don't think it's in print, any longer, as they rebooted the whole history a few years back. The clans are all different and they cut down on a lot of the religious mythology aspects.

lemonvampire said...

Bob, as the Game Overthinker, I would have thought you'd at least heard of "Legacy of Kain" or "Vampire the Masquerade" before.

lemonvampire said...

Or even as a film critic I'm surprised you haven't seen Wes Craven's Dracula 2000, where Dracula's origin was revised to tie him in with Judas Iscariot. Sure that's not Cain, but still pretty similar. I really just don't get you finding this such a shocking concept, Bob.

Anonymous said...

Did seriously NO ONE else cringe when they read "written and directed by M. Night Shyamylan"?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if people/Hollywood would have a bigger probleam with black people cast as Biblical characters than they would with the whole vampire angle.

Also, yeah, Dracula 2000 came to my mind too.

n34704 said...

Actually After Earth is only directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It's written by Stephen Gaghan and former PC Gamer editor Gary Whitta.

Anonymous said...

@Lemon

Well it is easy to know why he might have not played those games. They were not on a Nintendo system and or not a 2-D platformer.

Omegalittlebob said...

that......is......the....best......worst idea EVER!!! I

Omorka said...

Since I've been beaten to the White Wolf/World of Darkness comment several times over and "mark of Cain" vs. "mark of Ham" once, let me just add:

1) Eve can't "sire" anything; Adam sired Cain and Abel on her. "Sire" is the male equivalent of "bear." Yes, this is a nitpick, but gendered language is tricksy.

2) If you're not already aware of the other batshit Christian interpretations of Cain, Google "serpent seed" sometime. Vampires barely scratch the surface of this one.

Wes said...

Alfonso Ribeiro as Abel? I think a meme of sorts is in order.

Really I love how the majority of the mainstream Christian/Catholic religious population assume all these early biblical figures were white. Genetics have proven we all originated from very dark skinned ancestors in Africa, the bulk of the geographical locations in relation to the equator referenced in the Bible logically dictate that all the characters mentioned in the bible would have at the lightest complexion a dark olive skin, this is the Middle East, no one was that pasty white European complexion. And following the historic and cultural styles of the time in that location, if Jesus did actually have long hair, it would have been in Dreads. Next time you're in church and you're thinking about Jesus, if you want and accurate depiction, just picture Bob Marley.

Anonymous said...

Why not just adapt a Karl Edward Wagner yarn?

Joe said...

As a White Wolf gamer from way back, I'll just add to the "Mark Rein-Hagen did it first!" pile-on.

@Wes: European Christianity was filtered through Greek and Roman scholars and artists of the late Roman Empire. I remember seeing a documentary years ago suggesting the classic face of Christ in medieval and Renaissance art was based on a statue of Zeus in a temple in Asia Minor that became one of the earliest Christian churches--and that statue might have been based on earlier statues of Alexander the Great. So most of the body of Western religious art could be based on the representation of a Macedonian conqueror from 2,300 years ago.

kevmon1116 said...

First Dracula is Judas in Dracula 2000, now this.

I miss the old days, when Vampires were simple bloodthirsty killers and the religious connection was just based on a good vs evil paradyme.

When did it all go so wrong?

KevinCV said...

@kevmon1116 Probably around the same time Stephanie Meyer decided in her infinite wisdom to make them a ham-fisted metaphor and/or aesop for the bullshit known as "abstinence-only sexual education". Then again, it coulda been earlier. I really don't know. Also, I really hate to be "that guy" and be a totally spelling stickler, but it's spelled "paradigm".