Last week I saw the dreamy and beautiful movie Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. The film screened in Toronto for a week and before that as part of TIFF, for which the director Apichatpong Weerasethakul was in town. A Q&A session was part of the film festivals program. During the talk Apichatpong discussed “Utopia”, a project that he would love to make. Let’s hope he gets funding for it, I really want to see this:
“I’m really a big fan of Hollywood films. Especially disaster films.”
To that end, he’d love to make a sci-fi disaster film, set in Canada, that would feature the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek and also numerous female characters from sci-fi, including Star Trek’s Uhuru and Jane Fonda’s title femme from Barbarella.
“We plan to make a movie, but we cannot raise enough funds and there has to be the Starship Enterprise in the middle of a snowstorm erupting. It’s like a survey of these women going to this landscape and there are periodic snowstorms and monsters that are the creation of these people. It’s very sad, but it’s very funny at the same time. It would be a really big budget for me.”
“Uhuru” and “title femme”?! What was the writer of the Toronto Star article above thinking? How can you not get that right? He must have been on straight crack or something.
Apichatpong has mentioned the project before, in an interview from December 2009:
JB: Can you reveal some details about Utopia, which I believe is your “dream project”?
AW: It’s a science fiction film. I started working on it many years ago, after Tropical Malady. It’s a big movie and it’s based on my experiences of studying in the United States. I want to have the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek in the department store Macys, but broken down, and have the store surrounded by a snow-covered landscape. I want to work with the original science fiction actors, who are now in their 50s or 60s, and have them play scientists in this landscape who discover this broken-down Enterprise ship. There is a parallel narrative about a monster that is the product of these humans. The whole movie is about my memories of the science fiction movies that I grew up with.
As mentioned above, Utopia has been in the works for some time. An early treatment for the film seems to be from 2005 or 2006:
Synopsis: In the lost world, a pre-historic man is freed in a snow-covered landscape. Everything is white and new to him. He tries to survive in a jungle where there are periodic snowstorms. Followed by a group of fashionable old American ladies, he faces off against a terrorizing monster that hides in the jungle. He discovers a cave where he shields himself from the outside world and starts to hibernate. Through the course of his sleeping, the white and snow- covered world has turned into a lush tropical forest. He emerges from the cave and explores the new green territory in wonderment. The moist landscape is now full of miraculous fauna, flora… and elements of a fabulous adventure!
Director’s Statement: It’s a bedtime story and it’s gentle.
I imagine the coexistence of the two worlds. In this tale, both of them seem real on the surface. But when paired together, because of their differences, they become each other’s dreams. These dreams are intertwined without a sense of time. It is the future of an ancient time, and an ancient time of the future. It’s a celebration of America and of “America.” Here, life is tender and savage – civilized.