Friday, July 23, 2010

Is Jon Turteltaub the New David Lean?

By now I'm sure you've all heard the asinine thought-provoking comparisons of Christopher Nolan to Stanley Kubrick. With the release of Inception and all of its self-flattering nods to Kubrick's body of work, this is wholly understandable. Yet this wasn't the only challenge by a contemporary filmmaker to a legendary one that transpired over the past week. Although I haven't seen The Sorcerer's Apprentice, I was struck nonetheless by the innumerable similarities between director Jon Turteltaub's oeuvre and that of none other than the late, great David Lean. Hyperbole aside, this thus begs a most serious question: Is Jon Turteltaub the new David Lean?

Consider the evidence:
  • David Lean was 6 feet, 1 inches tall. It is entirely possible that Jon Turteltaub is also 6'1".
  • Lean used cameras with a variety of lenses to achieve his effects. It is rumored that Turteltaub also uses cameras with occasionally more than one type of lens.
  • Although from different generations, the two directors were great admirers of each other's work. Turteltaub declared that 3 Ninjas was "my Doctor Zhivago." Lean announced that his ultimately unfilmed version of Mutiny on the Bounty was to be "my Driving Me Crazy."
  • Nicolas Cage based his character in the first National Treasure on William Holden in The Bridge on the River Kwai.
  • Jon Turteltaub's first hit, 1993's Cool Runnings, was actually a David Lean project prior to Lean's death in 1991, titled A Bobsled to Jamaica.
  • David Lean's 1948 adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist features a child protagonist. Jon Turteltaub pays obvious homage to this radical concept with Disney's The Kid.

  • Nicolas Cage based his character in National Treasure: Book of Secrets on Judy Davis in A Passage to India.
  • Turteltaub's Phenomenon stars John Travolta, a well-known Scientologist. Lean's Lawrence of Arabia features Anthony Quinn, who once beat the shit out of a Scientologist.
  • Episodes of Jericho, Harper's Island and From the Earth to the Moon are among the work that Turteltaub has done for television. Rumors persist to this day that Lean once owned a television.
  • Nicolas Cage based his character in The Sorcerer's Apprentice on Alec Guinness in A Passage to India. However, Turteltaub balked at Cage's insistence that he don an Indian accent and a turban.
  • The plot to Turteltaub's National Treasure 3 will involve Charles Dickens's secret manuscript of Great Expectations, which became a secret screenplay to David Lean's acclaimed adaptation of the film, which an inebriated Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif buried in the desert where Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia.
  • Jon Turteltaub directed While You Were Sleeping. This was reportedly the working title to Ryan's Daughter.
  • Nicolas Cage has said he plans to base his character in National Treasure 3 on Katharine Hepburn in David Lean's Summertime.


Kevin J. Olson said...

Brilliant. That is all that needs to be said.

Steven Santos said...

So both Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder are vying to be the New Kubrick. I think Fincher was also the New Kubrick when "Fight Club" came out, but became the New Pakula after "Zodiac". M. Night Shyamalan is the New Spielberg or maybe Hitchcock. Jody Hill is the New Martin Scorsese, though Tarantino was back in the '90's. We have a bunch of New Hal Ashbys out there. Jason Reitman is the New Billy Wilder.

Kidding aside, the shocking thing about the Nolan/Kubrick comparison is when it begins to dawn on you that some film writers love Kubrick, but apparently did not understand his movies.

Adam Zanzie said...

At first I thought the whole thing about David Lean and Cool Runnings was serious... LOL. You have a way of pulling legs, Craig.

Let's not forget that Anthony Hopkins' deranged gorilla lover in Instinct was basically a South African version of Rod Steiger's Komarovsky. I mean it.

FilmDr said...

Very funny. So, I guess Inception is the new 2001: A Space Odyssey because they are both metaphysically trippy, and The Dark Knight is the new Clockwork Orange because the Joker is the new Alex, right? I do think that Inception emphasizes the conventionality of the otherwise fun Salt. I want ambiguous endings, multiple levels, and intellectual puzzles in all my movies now.

Craig said...

I do think that Inception emphasizes the conventionality of the otherwise fun Salt. I want ambiguous endings, multiple levels, and intellectual puzzles in all my movies now.

Salt is the New Pepper.