Doug Liman Climbs EVEREST With George Mallory Biopic

The Bourne Identity & Fair Game director to re-tell the story of the first man to have reportedly climbed Everest, adapting Jeffrey Archer's mostly fictional novel Paths of Glory.

It's been a long while since a Doug Liman picture had us truly excited. For a guy who burst onto the scene in the mid 90's with such a confident and brash voice via the Indie hits Swingers (based on that great script by Jon Favreau) and 1999's offbeat drug thriller Go before launching a modern day James Bond franchise in The Bourne Identity, Liman nosedived when he sold his soul to the blockbuster devil like many before him have done, helming the two paycheck endeavors Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Jumper. Very quickly a worthy independent voice had become just another filmmaker and although his last movie Fair Game put him back on track tonally, we couldn't help but feel it was less meaningful in it's intentions and more like an Oscar baiting political thriller vehicle for Sean Penn and Naomi Watts. Often when a creative becomes too comfortable in life, the passion and the excitement for crafting unique work gets lost somewhere but at least for what could be his next movie, it looks like Liman is ready for a challenge and will climb Everest for his work. Quite literally. Deadline reports that Liman is circling to direct a Sony Pictures drama based on the true story of George Mallory, perhaps the first man to climb the world's tallest mountain on what was his third attempt, inspiring Brits back home to be determined and face lifes challenges head on in the gloomy aftermath of World War I. His reasoning for climbing Everest, "Because it's there", became as famous as the act itself and although there are some who discredit that he ever actually reached the top, we imagine the movie will be from the point of view that he did. Mallory died during the descent of his third expedition and perished alongside his climbing partner Andrew "Sandy" Irvine in June 1924. His body wouldn't be discovered for another 75 years. Mallory is on the right of the picture below, Irvine on the left; Liman, an avid climber and lifelong admirer of Mallory, will use Jeffrey Archer's book Paths of Glory (we don't need to tell you why the title of the film has been changed!) to tell us his story which will also cover Mallory's rivalry with Australian climber George Finch (the great grandfather of actor Peter Finch) to be the first man on top of Everest and his devotion to his wife at home. Excitedly the Oscar nominated Up in the Air writer Sheldon Turner will scribe a fresh draft of the movie under Liman's supervision. This is a priority picture at Sony, who no doubt see Everest as the chance for an Awards season picture and certainly we imagine many actor's in their 30's (Mallory was 37 when he died) will be excited about portraying this kind of meaty real life figure on screen. Also there's an ending just perfect for Turner's script. As there is so much debate about whether Mallory actually made it to the top of the mountain, one piece of evidence that he may have done was chronicled in the brilliant recent Anthony Geffen documentary The Wildest Dream (which is about Mallory's story) told us that for all of Mallory's possessions that were found on him when his body was discovered in 1999, what was missing was the photograph of Ruth he vowed his wife he would place on top of Everest. So there's your final shot of the movie... a close up of Ruth's photograph in the snow on top of the mountain. 48 year old Ralph Fiennes voiced Mallory in the documentary (and does have a physical resemblance) and Hugh Dancy, 36, voiced Irvine. What price on Liman securing one of the two for his movie (certainly Fiennes would be a major coup). If the scripting and casting process runs smoothly, this could very well be Liman's next film. He had been desperate to make the $100 million sci-fi blockbuster Luna, a high-concept movie about a moon mission that was once setup as a Jake Gyllenhaal starring vehicle at Paramount & New Regency but that has hit financial problems and he has begun to look elsewhere. Last week he was being linked with the Warner Bros. adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka's novel All You Need Is Kill (basically a Source Code concept movie but set on a battlefield with a soldier) but again financing could be a problem as it needed a box office draw to get it off the ground (Brad Pitt was being spoken of... but so many unproduced movies can say the same thing). Everest is favourite to his next film and it looks like it could be a go-project and the first Liman film in a long while we can't wait to see.
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.