James Franco might be claiming that “This Is The End” with his latest comedy outing, but the actor and filmmaker is still looking forward to a career both in front of the camera and behind it, as the first promotional stills emerge for his adaptation of the William Faulkner novel, As I Lay Dying.

Franco himself stars as Darl Bundren, the son of a woman who has recently died, and whose family is attempting to honor her wish of being buried in a town forty miles away from the family home. Tim Blake Nelson plays the widowed patriarch and Franco’s father, while True Blood‘s Jim Parrack plays one of his brothers.

A good round-up of the central cast is shown in the first promotional stills from As I Lay Dying, posted over at The Playlist, which feature the different members of the Bundren family both separately and together as they come to transport their mother through the countryside and to the town of Jefferson. Among the actors pictured is Danny McBride, who previously co-starred with Franco in the extreme stoner comedy Pineapple Express, Logan Marshall-Green from Prometheus and Ahna O’Reilly from The Help.

Somewhat surprisingly for such a famous novel, As I Lay Dying has never been adapted for film until now, possibly because the narrative style doesn’t hand itself over easily to a screenwriter. The story is told from the perspective of a multitude of different characters in a stream-of-consciousness form, though about a third of it is told from the perspective of Franco’s character. When first preparing to embark on the project, Franco was considering it in parallel with Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian, so it’s possible he’s reserving intentions towards McCarthy’s book for the future.

The promo stills have been prepared as part of the package for As I Lay Dying that’s being taken to Cannes this month. Franco isn’t the only director within his subgenre (Great American Novel adaptations), as the film festival will open with Baz Luhrmann’s extravagant adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, which features Leonardo DiCaprio as the eponymous Gatsby and Tobey Maguire as protagonist and narrator Nick Carraway.

Luckily for fans of both Luhrmann and Franco, you don’t have to choose between them. The Great Gatsby is in the main competition, whilst As I Lay Dying is being shown as part of the Un Certain Regard selection, a category for original or unique films. Franco’s film is in direction competition with Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring and Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station.

Let us know your thoughts on these first stills from As I Lay Dying – and which films you’re rooting for at Cannes – in the comments.

As I Lay Dying will premiere at Cannes in May 2013, but doesn’t yet have a general release date.

Source: The Playlist