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Undeterred by the lackluster debut of his latest feature — the James Dean biopic Life, starring Dane DeHaan — director Anton Corbijn is looking to adapt the story of another great American icon for the screen.
The filmmaker is adapting the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Devil in the Grove, the story of the 1949 Padgett case in which four black men, falsely accused of rape, were defended by a young Thurgood Marshall. Adam Cooper and Bill Collage wrote the screenplay for Devil, based on Gilbert King’s book.
The book focuses on Marshall’s role in fighting to defeat America’s Jim Crow laws before he rose to become a Supreme Court justice.
“This is relevant to what is happening in America at the moment,” Corbijn says of the racial tensions and the Black Lives Matter campaign that has been in political movement this year in the U.S.
The Dutch helmer admits he is not an obvious choice to examine the history of American race relations. “I’m not American, I’m also not black, but it comes from that sense of injustice is the same for anybody,” he says. “I always feel very strongly about injustice being done to people worldwide. I was born on a little island in Holland, and I never saw a black person until I was probably 12, so it doesn’t come from there. It comes from that sense of injustice and I am interested in that subject matter … it will be a great film, unless I f— it up.”
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival