When I first read Laurence Fishburne, of all people, was set to direct the film adaptation of Paul Coelho’s beloved bestseller The Alchemist, my eyebrows raised so high they nearly flew off my face. (Clearly, I should seek medical attention for having such malleable brows.) But Variety is now reporting Fishburne is no longer attached, and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has now latched himself fully to the project and will pick a new director shortly. Coelho flew to Cannes to discuss the project, and said he has no doubt Weinstein is the right person to get the long-in-the-works film to theaters. Like, duh. When Weinstein wants something, he gets it. And usually the thing he wants is a shiny gold toy called Oscar.
Like legions of you, I’m sure, I adore The Alchemist. It is such an inspiring, lyrical, simply told but elegantly written tale of a Spanish shepherd on a search for his personal destiny (and his soul mate, of course), one that can be read in a single sitting and then over and over again. But I’m worried how well that will translate to film. It goes without saying the director will be crucial to the film’s success. The film needs someone who will veer away from excessive melodrama and give the adaptation some real visual and emotional gravity.
I’ve got a few suggestions: John Curran, who made the sumptuous and affecting (and underrated) Edward Norton-Naomi Watts drama The Painted Veil. Or Brit-wiz Michael Winterbottom, who lent A Mighty Heart a steely authenticity when it could have easily been manipulative and melodramatic. Finally: Babel helmer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. That film’s scenes in Morocco had such a stark, poetic beauty to them. Who do you think Weinstein should pick, PopWatchers? Do you even think a film adaptation could do The Alchemist justice?