Director Zhang Yimou’s filmography is at once incredibly prestigious and – at a casual glance – quite odd. Made internationally famous by the 1991 period drama Raise the Red Lantern, Yimou was known for stately, slow-burn films of the same genre. In 2002, the director headed up the epic wuxia action-drama Hero, which went on to become a substantial overseas hit. He followed this up with two equally accomplished action-adventure movies – House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower.
Yimou has since returned to period drama, but the clout from his internationally beloved martial arts films remains. Apparently, the director is preparing to make the same jump to Hollywood that fellow Hong Kong directors John Woo and Ang Lee accomplished in the ‘90s. In Yimou’s case, he may soon be behind the cameras for an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, titled Quasimodo.
Variety reports that Yimou is in talks to direct the long-in-development Quasimodo. He would be directing from a screenplay written by Michele and Kieran Mulroney (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows). Though he has yet to be confirmed for the part, Josh Brolin (Oldboy) has been rumored to be interested in the title role.
This is, of course, far from the first adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hugo’s original novel follows a deformed bell-ringer at the titular cathedral who tries to rescue an oppressed gypsy girl. The most popular recent version of the property remains the 1996 Disney animated film, which traded the novel’s incredibly downbeat ending (in which more or less every character dies miserable and alone) for a far more family-friendly conclusion.
Though this would be Yimou’s first American-produced project, it would not be the first time he has filmed in English. In 2011, he headed up the World War II drama The Flowers of War, which starred Christian Bale (American Hustle) and featured a good deal of English dialogue, despite being set in 1937 Nanking.
With little to go on as to the exact tone and content of this new Hunchback adaptation, it’s interesting to speculate on what approach Yimou will take to such a well-known story. Will Quasimodo be a straight adaptation of the novel, filmed in the heavily detailed period style of Yimou’s early films? Or will it be a more action-filled offshoot, trading the dour atmosphere for swashbuckling heroics? Knowing Yimou’s proficiency behind the camera, either interpretation is sure to be visually spectacular. We at Screen Rant will definitely be keeping tabs on this project as it shapes up.
Quasimodo currently has no definitive release date. Swing by Screen Rant for any future updates on the film’s production.