'Lives of Others' Director to Adapt Fantasy Comic 'Thorgal' (Exclusive)

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck will develop a live-action take on the best-selling graphic novel about a mysterious boy found and raised by Vikings.
Courtesy of Media Participation/Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
'Thorgal,' Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

From The Lives of Others to a French Game of Thrones.

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, the Oscar-winning director of The Lives of Others, is shifting gears for his new project: a live-action adaptation of the French-language fantasy comic Thorgal.

Created by Belgian writer Jean Van Hamme and Polish graphic artist Grzegorz Rosinski in 1977, the comic is set in the Middle Ages and follows the adventures of a mysterious dark-haired child, Thorgal, found and adopted by a Viking chieftain. He grows to be a great warrior, using his skills to battle against powers greater than anything the Vikings could have imagined.

One of the most successful French-language graphic novels in history, Thorgal has sold some 14 million volumes in 18 languages worldwide. It is published by Belgian comics group Le Lombard and by British publisher Cinebook in English.

Le Lombard has several TV and film adaptations of its catalog in the works, including Luc Besson's mega-budget sci-fi epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, based on the comic from Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres and starring Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan.

Donnersmarck will develop his Thorgal adaptation under the auspices of Pergamon Film, the joint venture he set up with Jan Mojto. Mojto's production and sales group Beta Film backed The Lives of Others and has had a hand in virtually every major German TV project of the last 10 years, including International Emmy-award winning Generation War and Tom Tykwer's upcoming Babylon Berlin.

“I have loved Thorgal since I was a teenager living in Brussels, where I stood in line for hours in front of a bookstore with hundreds of other fans whenever a new volume was published,” Donnersmarck said Thursday in a statement. “It was always worth the wait. Jan Mojto and I have been trying to get the rights to Thorgal for almost a decade. We are thrilled that van Hamme, Rosinski and Le Lombard have decided to trust us with their greatest treasure and will strive to translate its full power to the screen. The stories are so good, though, that it’s almost harder to get it wrong than to get it right."

Donnersmarck and Mojto did not give many details of the planned Thorgal adaptation, though it's expected to take the form of a high-end television series, along the lines of Vikings or Game of Thrones. With Beta, Mojto has pioneered pan-European co-productions in which TV networks from several European countries pool resources to produce big-budget series.

Donnersmarck followed up The Lives of Others with the critically panned rom-com thriller The Tourist starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. He has returned to Germany for his latest feature, Work Without Author, which features Generation War's Tom Schilling and The Lives of Others star Sebastian Koch. Currently in postproduction, the film is set to premiere next year.

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