ADAPTING THE BRIGADIER
"I think the Brigadier Ffellowes stories
might make an excellent film."
Arthur C. Clarke *
It's difficult to imagine that there could be a higher recommendation than that offered above by the author and co-screenwriter of one of cinema's most lauded science fiction epics, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
And yet, like one of the long-lost races or mythical lands encountered by Brigadier Ffellowes himself, Sterling E. Lanier's classic works have hitherto remained undiscovered by movie-makers.
"It was one of those situations I think one encounters very rarely, " comments screenwriter
Martin Semple, "when you 'stumble' upon something this good. Material that just leaps off the page and instantly demands to be made into a movie."
The plots lent themselves to a period style not only in their setting but also, Semple felt strongly, in the manner of their adaptation: "I had the sense that this was a movie not only set in the 1920s and '30s but one which could also have been made (at least in spirit) 40 or 50 years ago, with great English character actors like Cary Grant or Peter O'Toole in the Ffellowes role."
Whilst evoking a variety of past notable works in fantastic literature, the supernatural adventures of the soldier-spy Brigadier Ffellowes nevertheless remain unique.
“If I had to reduce it to a one-liner,
it's essentially Boy's Own Adventure tales meets H.P.Lovecraft, ” notes Semple. “Perhaps somewhat arcane in terms of reference points, although I rather think that suits the Brigadier. In more populist terms, it’s somewhere in the realms of Indiana Jones and James Bond, but really he’s the one and only Brigadier Ffellowes, a fabulous character whom the movie-going public has yet to meet.”
1926. On covert assignment in southern Arabia, Donald Ffellowes, a dashing, resourceful young artilleryman recruited by British intelligence, unearths a planned uprising against His Majesty’s forces in Aden. His cover blown, he engages in a heated gunfight with a lethal band of Arab insurgents and only just manages a death-defying escape. Together with his Sudanese companion, Moussa wad Helu, he is forced to flee along the coast into a forbidden desert region.
As they travel deeper into this unsettling wasteland, Ffellowes and Moussa begin to encounter unusual signs of life; apparently harmless. By nightfall, however, Moussa has become increasingly fearful, recalling legends from the time of King Solomon, when this 'cursed' place was said to be the dominion of demons... Read the full synopsis
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Ned Dameron, artist and film pre-production designer, is the World Fantasy Award-nominated illustrator of books by leading authors including Stephen King, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard and Anne McCaffrey. He was commissioned to produce both colour and black & white interpretations of Sterling E. Lanier's second collection of Ffellowes stories, The Curious Quests of Brigadier Ffellowes (1986).
Together with the colour illustration below, Dameron's excellent artwork (licensed to Dead Horse Productions to promote the Brigadier Ffellowes Movie project) can be found throughout this website.
Danny Mitchell, composer / musician (Modern Man, Messengers) is perhaps best known as the co-writer of Midge Ure's number one single If I Was (1985). He toured the world playing keyboards for Ultravox and Ure in the 1980s and it was during this period that he had his first exposure to musical composition for film. He is constantly in demand in his various roles as composer, session musician and sound recording engineer.
In 2005, Dead Horse Productions commissioned Mitchell to write and perform two short sections of music to augment the promotional package for the Brigadier Ffellowes Movie project. The following highly evocative tracks, inspired by Mitchell's reading of the screenplay, are available to play or download:
The Brigadier Ffellowes March
00:02:38 / MP3 format / 6.2Mb
Copyright © Dead Horse Productions, 2008.
Befitting the very English, military character of Brigadier Donald Ffellowes, the track begins with a brass band version of the heroic main theme before bursting into a full orchestral rendition, finally segueing to a more sombre and poignant interpretation of the theme.
Ffellowes and the Supernatural
00:01:11 / MP3 format / 2.8Mb
Copyright © Dead Horse Productions, 2008.
Enter the dark world of the Brigadier at your peril! Perfectly evoking the sinister, uncanny nature of Ffellowes' adventures, the track propels the listener irresistibly into a terrifying world of hellish forces and unimaginable creatures. You have been warned...