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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: How would you adapt this now-offensive pulp novel to make it work for today’s audiences?

In response to the QOTD earlier this week about whether late-19th-, early-20th-century pulp fiction is too dated to be transferred to the big screen, reader Jim emailed me this:

I read a pulp novel that really could not be made into a film now. It involved a bunch of Americans and Europeans using a giant airship kind of thing to steal sacred Islamic relics from Mecca to “teach the Arabs a lesson”. I forget the title of it. I think it was pre or just after WWI. I was slack-jawed reading it.

But I thought: Wow! That concept could be used that as the beginning a pulp-style film today. It could be like Three Kings: the Westerners start out as “heroes” but then the story shifts gears to make them if not actually villians then definitely not heroic. They could discover the realities of the lives of ordinary nonterrorist, nonpolitical Middle Easterners. It could even feature the first Arab action hero.

This could never come out of Hollywood. But Hollywood ain’t the only game in town.

What do you think? How would you adapt this now-offensive pulp novel to make it work for today’s audiences?

Oh, and if you know the name of the book Jim is talking about, let us know. I’m curious to read it.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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