Radical Makes: Red Dead Remption (part 1)

I recently picked up one of my favorite video games, Red Dead Redemption, an open world action game that takes place in the early 1900’s. Acquiring artistic directions from the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone, the noir of the Coen Brothers, and even the pessimistic satire of geo-political issues, this epic story sweeps you from the plains of the midwest to the deserts of Mexico and north east of America. The rich characters and detailed setting elevates this video game above it’s peers in storytelling and entertainment, so much to say that even a relatively know independent filmmaker, John Hillcoat, created a western short film out of Red Dead Redemption‘s cutscenes (The Man from Blackwater – John Hillcoat).

It has honestly made me wish for some more quality, modern western films and reminded me of how scarce a well made one is anymore. Some of the rare current hits include Open Range (with Robert Duvall and Kevin Kostner), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (with Brad Pitt and Casey Afleck), 3:10 to Yuma (technically a remake), and True Grit (another remake).

 

Replaying Red Dead Redemption revealed a glaring opportunity for a feature film by a major Hollywood studio (even with Rockstar currently owning all copyrights). With the huge array of characters, plotlines, and background work within the game this seems like a perfect well of creativity to grace the silver screen.

So now I will attempt to breathe some life into turning a video game into a mainstream feature film for fans everywhere to enjoy.

Who Should Direct: Quentin Tarantino

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This may seem cliche (ha!) but please allow me to explain. Obviously, Red Dead Redemption is not meant for kids. There is violence, strong language, nudity, and sexual themes throughout. I do not atone for this content, but it does serve a purpose at times. The characters in its fictional world are sinful, selfish, stupid, strange, violent people and scarily all relate to examples in today’s world. Tarantino’s work has never veered from shining a light on the errors of man and exaggerating them to almost controversial levels. He has more than once been seen as a vulgar director known to promote extreme violence and spit racial slurs at an absurd level. However, within the filth lies a critical view of society that may only appear ugly because it’s true.

A Red Dead Redemption film would thrive on a director that could bring alive the strange quirks of its characters, a balanced satire, and action scenes that connect the strong narrative. Tarantino would know how to tie together the wild wilderness of the game to exaggerated but relatable characters within an entertaining backdrop. He also is known for having strong soundtracks to his films but this aspect would need some dialing down. There is room for a british pop rock song without taking away from the tone, however he’d need to stick with a more instrumental sound. Your first arrival into Mexico is one of the best uses of song I’ve seen in a video game.

Quentin Tarantino would be a logical choice to adapt this material in a successful way without compromising the quality or darkening the themes to almost comically moody tones (looking at you Zack Snyder/Christopher Nolan Superman).

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The New John Marston

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When you hear “experienced gunman/emotional baggage/cowboy” you immediately think of Justified‘s Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant). In many ways Raylan, and Red Dead‘s main anti-hero protagonist, John Marston, are the same fictional person just in different periods of time. Both have a strong sense of justice, firm hand of discipline, and silent authority that make for such intriguing character developments. On Justified, Raylan is a Federal Marshall that has a knack for shooting his targets, even if he deems them as “justified.” He is steady in moments, passionate in some, and always running with a sense of purpose even if he’s unsure of what that purpose is.

John Marston’s strategic yet empathetic journey of protecting his family at all costs because of the danger his past ignites draws you in from the very beginning by creating it’s own purpose for the player. We aren’t simply roaming the Wild West lawlessly, but pushing our protagonist forward as we desire to see everything to a closure. Red Dead‘s Marston is a constant in a sea of strangers and freaks, dynamic life events, and side roads. He doesn’t waste words and even speaks with a specific intent. He also has experienced life a good bit which Olyphant represents well on the screen. By always walking with a cautious swagger, his character knows the confidence of youth grounded by lessons learned in maturity. Olyphant as John Marston would be a quickly believable character in an exciting story.

The New Abigail Marston

Sandra Bullock

Coming soon! Come back for the rest!

 

 

 

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~ by Joseph Thomasson on April 22, 2016.

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