This post was initially written on May 27th, 2012. I’m sure that’s when the news broke that Shadow of the Colossus had been optioned for a film. Obviously that didn’t happen. But for no real reason other than to put something here, I’m going to revise it once tonight and press “Publish”.
The only way I care to see it working is with little speaking for the majority of the film. And I don’t mean this will become Quest for Fire, or even Once Upon A Time in the West. Having long stretches with little speaking totally worked for Cast Away, and that was a $90 million Hollywood film with Tom Hanks. (And in revision, how great was Mad Max: Fury Road? It cost $150 million.)
What’s important is how the visual storytelling and the tone are handled, and to that end, I know exactly who I want to take this endeavor with. I want to see (at least the non-action scenes) it directed by Andrew Dominik, with cinematography by Roger Deakins. The two previously worked together on The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. If you haven’t seen it, that movie IS the very concept of amazing cinematography encapsulated in celluloid. Their work, what they got from those actors and the world they were in, made the moments without words some of the best in that film. Hell, the film even made a narrator work exceptionally well (though, I wouldn’t want that here.) Admittedly, I can’t say how they’d handle a CG-extravaganza with certainty, I don’t have many reservations.
That said, also, you’d have to cut down the number of colossi, obviously. No more than four. Sure, we could do a montage, but no one wants that. Though I suppose you could put more on the “Insanely Long Director’s Experience” version, if they’re feeling ballsy, and want to create the lore of, say, Apocalypse Now. (There’s a poor quality workprint that rabid fans watch that has 87 minutes of footage that wasn’t even included in Apocalypse Now Redux, totaling almost 5 hours!) But at that rate, do a TV show, right?
The beautiful shots of scenery in The Assassination of Jesse James and the characters existing in them offer a wonderful place to start. Begin with our introductory journey as shown in the game, traveling to a land with the body of a woman over his horse. Our protagonist converses with Dormin, but at a fountain inside the temple. Wander holds up his sword, determines the direction to travel, and speaks to Agro a little as he journeys; traversing environmental challenges when… We meet our first colossus.
Wander finds a grassy plain and in the shadow of the canyon, finds his sword doesn’t pinpoint the location of the colossus. Not seeing him, he climbs a onto a large stone. He hears rumbling, and sees a shift in the ground some distance off, then suddenly the statue he’s on lurches into the air, and he flies off! Yes, it was part of the sword in the colossus’ hand that Wander was resting on. The rumbling in the distance was part of the colossus’ foot becoming unearthed. It was asleep and the earth settled around it probably decades ago.
The fight could be amazing. If you’ve played the game I don’t think I even have to lay out how well the drama could be handled. But if not, watching our hero Wander climb up a massive beast as it struggles and attempts to shake him off is a glorious feeling in the game, and I’m sure a good director could convey that to video well. And each time Wander wins, something comes from the colossus, and he wakes at the temple, in the fountain, confused. Sleepily he asks Agro why he brought him back here. He runs a hand over the hair of the woman’s body he left in the temple. He tells Agro “you brought me back to her”, and that she won’t be waking up again. He checks his sword and sets out. Now he’s slightly weaker, and hungry. Wander trails a lizard climbing a tree with his bow, but sees a sole piece of fruit hanging from it, and shoots it down instead. Good.
Cut to Lord Emon discovering Wander has stolen a mysterious sword and left for the forbidden land. He sends words for a hero of the kingdom to be dispatched immediately, and calls for his troop of personal guards to be prepared. Wander travels through the remains of a decayed colosseum where he finds, fights, and kills another colossus. This time we watch as Wander pointlessly attempts to fight off the darkness that spews from the fallen colossus, then falls unconscious. He wakes coughing up water in the fountain again. He cries at the body of the woman he brought to the temple. Wander uses Agro to help him hunt and eat a large lizard. He cooks it, but it’s not great. It’s edible, but it tastes bad.
He finds another colossi, this one near a beach, in loose sands. It looks like a snake with wings, it flies, and with a force that shakes the ground, it dives into and out of the sand as if it were water. The third time he kills a colossus he bursts from the water on his last breath violently sick, puking up cups of dark viscous murk, visibly pale and cold. He heaves himself over the edge of the fountain and climbs on Agro again. He checks the reflection of light from his sword and sets out again for his next challenge. We follow him this time, traversing the natural obstacles he’s faced. Lord Emon’s Hero arrives at the temple, and seeks him out, trying to stop him, but Wander wins the fight. Lord Emon arrives at the temple, where the guards find sign of the Hero on the hunt. Lord Emon says they should stay there, and guard the fountain inside the temple.
Wander crosses the bridge, and sees the final colossus. (Yes, that thing that happened by this point has happened.) Wander tries to approach the colossus, but is almost killed by it when the Hero saves him! Wander does not take this lightly, killing the Hero, and showing no remorse. Then he conquers the colossus. When there’s a loud boom and darkness erupts into the sky, Lord Emon and his troops at the temple notice even at their distance. A moment later there’s a slight whine, and then a huge splash into the fountain behind them. Wander has landed.
From here, well, the game plays out.