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26. Oct 2005

Paradise Lost - nu som film

Den engelske digter John Miltons storværk Paradise Lost er nu på vej som Hollywoodfilm, læser vi i dagens Guardian. The Guardians skribent er ikke videre imponeret ved udsigten:
Gibson's task of translating the linear narrative prose of the New Testament into the medium of film was technically a straightforward one. But in adapting a great and timeless epic poem, any director must employ a subtle yet assured touch, a firm understanding of myth, structure and language and an innovative method of applying modern techniques to the ancient art of storytelling. Or alternatively they could employ Brad Pitt in a loincloth.

When Troy was released in 2004, the cinemagoing public was treated to an attractive array of flesh and sandals, distracting nicely from a patchy plot and acting more wooden than the set's biggest prop.
Man kan vel forsøge sig med lidt forsigtig optimisme og gætte på, det nok ikke kan gå værre end det gik med Troy.

Ideen er i alle tilfælde spændende, og jeg har selv længe tænkt, at Paradise Lost ville være et oplagt emne for en tegneserie (Peter Snejbjerg ville være den perfekte tegner til et sådant projekt).

Paradise Lost er et storværk i tolv afsnit ("bøger") om Satans og de faldne engles oprør mod Gud, Adams og Evas fristelse og fordærv og menneskets uddrivelse af Paradis. Det er det første (og eneste, mig bekendt) egentlig epos baseret på den jødisk/kristne mytologi:
OF Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit        
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste        
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,        
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man        
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat.      
Satan og hans engle er kastet i dybet, uddrevet til Helvede, og beslutter at forsøge at undslippe helvedet, erobre jorden og udrydde eller fordærve menneskene:
                        There is a place               
(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heaven        
Err not)—another World, the happy seat        
Of some new race, called Man, about this time        
To be created like to us, though less        
In power and excellence, but favoured more               
Of Him who rules above; so was His will        
Pronounced among the gods, and by an oath        
That shook Heaven’s whole circumference confirmed.        
Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn        
What creatures there inhabit, of what mould               
Or substance, how endued, and what their power        
And where their weakness; how attempted best,        
By force or subtlety. Though Heaven be shut,        
And Heaven’s high Arbitrator sit secure        
In his own strength, this place may lie exposed,               
The utmost border of his kingdom, left        
To their defence who hold it: here, perhaps,        
Some advantageous act may be achieved        
By sudden onset—either with Hell-fire        
To waste his whole creation, or possess           
All as our own, and drive, as we are driven,        
The puny habitants; or, if not drive,        
Seduce them to our party, that their God        
May prove their foe, and with repenting hand        
Abolish his own works.       
Satan tilbyder personligt at drage afsted for at udforske denne nye verden, hvor de faldne engle vil finde deres nye hjem:
                          Long is the way        
And hard, that out of Hell leads up to Light.        
Our prison strong, this huge convex of fire,        
Outrageous to devour, immures us round               
Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant,        
Barred over us, prohibit all egress.        
These passed, if any pass, the void profound        
Of unessential Night receives him next,        
Wide-gaping, and with utter loss of being               
Threatens him, plunged in that abortive gulf.        
If thence he scape, into whatever world,        
Or unknown region, what remains him less        
Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape?        
But I should ill become this throne, O Peers,               
And this imperial sovranty, adorned        
With splendour, armed with power, if aught proposed        
And judged of public moment in the shape        
Of difficulty or danger, could deter        
Me from attempting.       
Det er svært at undgå at bemærke, at Satan og de faldne engle er de stærkeste, mest sympatiske og mest interessante figurer i Paradise Lost, mens Gud, hans søn Kristus og de "gode" engle generelt er nogle ret kedelige fætre.

William Blake mente decideret, at værket skulle "vendes om", så man overalt skulle læse Gud for Satan, og Percy Bysshe Shelley gjorde opmærksom på parallelerne mellem Miltons "ædle satan" og hans egen Prometheus.

Dette ræsonnement ville dog have chokeret Milton, der var fanatisk puritaner og en ganske farverig person:
Before Milton wrote Paradise Lost, he stopped writing poetry altogether, and spent about seventeen years as Oliver Cromwell's public relations man. (This fact cheers up many aging writers.) He was anti-monarchist, anti-church, anti-censorship, but in favor of divorce and the beheading of Charles I. By the time Milton turned fifty, however, his situation was dire. Cromwell was dead; Charles II was on the English throne; a retro number called the Restoration was underway. Imprisoned and released, Milton was on the outs and frequently afraid for his life; his fame fading, his fortune expropriated, his pamphlets burned. He was also twice-widowed, blind, and the father of three children.

So what does Milton do? He marries a girl twenty-five years his junior and begins to dictate Paradise Lost, the masterwork he has been planning in his head for twenty years ...
(Læs mere på OpenLetters.net).

Brad Pitt som Satan? Well, let's hope not. Men projektet kunne sagtens gå hen og blive spændende (selvom jeg nu stadig synes, det ville egne sig bedre som tegneserie).

I mellemtiden kan evt. interesserede læse hele digtet her.