Four Lives to Immortalize in Film
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in more than one post, Hollywood is very good at finding ideas wherever possible. It’s no surprise then that so many award winning films come from the true stories of extraordinary people. Biographies are the perfect fodder for film adaptations. Just take a look at most of the popular movies in the last few decades. The phrase “based on a true story” is more common now than ever, and it’s little wonder. If you look at how remarkable some people were, it’s no surprise that Hollywood wants to share their story (regardless of how much ‘padding’ the story needs). The Iron Lady, The King’s Speech, J.Edgar… even this winter’s Saving Mr. Banks, all started as true stories.
Every remarkable life has been documented and adapted in some way, and some more often than others. But here are four lives that I would like to see hit the big screen, using the dramatization and storytelling style that Hollywood is so good at.
Although he was portrayed in The Prestige, the real story of Nikola Tesla has yet to be adapted. Considered by some to be smarter than Thomas Edison, Tesla was the man responsible for the alternating current electrical system, and pioneered most of the radio research that would go on to make Marconi famous. He can also be tied to the invention of x-rays, radar, and hydroelectronics. Most modern day scientists consider him to be one of the greatest inventors who ever lived, not to mention one of the most misunderstood. His biography has plenty to make an interesting story, and that’s not even including his feud with Edison.
There have been films made about Mata Hari in the past, but it’s been a long time since Hollywood tackled this story. Known as one of the most alluring spy informants during World War I, Mata Hari was an exotic dancer who regularly found herself in the company of military personnel and important political figures. It’s thought that she was originally hired to spy for the French, but ended up becoming a double agent. Although whether or not she informed for the Germans as well is unknown, she ended up being tried for treason and was shot. Since Hollywood has a tremendous way of making innocents out of anyone, they would no doubt portray Mata Hari as either an innocent brought down the wrong path or the female answer to James Bond.
Everyone knows Mark Twain as the man who created the characters of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. They also know him as one of the funniest and most humanistic writers who ever lived. But that’s not as far as Mark Twain goes. The man’s life made a number of dramatic turns, which starkly contrasts the books we’ve come to know and love. At one point, he made bad investments and lost all of the money he had made with his writing. In a span of thirteen years, from 1896 to 1909, he lost two of his daughters, his wife, and his close friend. Following this, he formed a club with some young girls he had befriended (and considered to be surrogate granddaughters). They became the Angel Fish and Aquarium Club. And finally, he was born when Halley’s comet passed by in 1835, and died when it passed again in 1910. How’s that for a story coming full circle?
Even though she has a musical commemorating her achievements, I still feel that not enough people know about the excellence of Annie Oakley. For starters, she was considered the first American female superstar and gained the reputation of being a crackshot. Because of her amazing talent, Annie Oakley was featured in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. But that’s not all there was to Annie Oakley. This woman is the definition of determined. Throughout her life, Annie would suffer a physical malady, overcome it, and return to break more records than she previously had (in one instance, she even had multiple spinal surgeries before returning to educate women on how to handle a gun). I can’t help but think that a woman as strong as Annie Oakley deserves more than just a Broadway musical.
Are there any lives that you would like to see immortalized in film? Leave me a comment below!