Even the ideas of genius directors are sometimes overlooked in the world of cinema. Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Sergio Leone are part of the big names that enter the list of the 10 great movies that the world did not see.
Napoleon, Stanley Kubrick
If we ask cinephiles which film they would like to see on the big screen, their choice would most likely be Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon. His research on the life of the French Emperor continued for years and was intended for a biographical film released after 2001: Space Odyssey. Kubrick wanted Oskar Werner to act as Napoleon, and Audrey Hepburn to be his wife Josephine, but MGM stopped the project because the estimated cost of the project was unimaginable.
In 2013, Steven Spielberg told French Canal + that he hoped to revive Kubrick’s project in television miniseries, with Baz Luhrmann as director.
If you’d like to check out what Kubrick did on Napoleon, here’s a great book that’s available on Amazon.
Kaleidoscope, Alfred Hitchcock
After watching Michelangelo Antonioni’s provocative film Blow-Up, Hitchcock said he felt his own films were far behind. He made plans for a radical, cross-border film that will include absolute nudity, violence and homoerotics. The plot is about three murders: one at a waterfall, one on a warship, and the other at a factory. Although Hitchcock promises to make the film for less than $ 1 million, the studio MCA / Universal refuse the project. Later some of Hitchcock’s Kaleidoscope ideas are seen in his 1972 film Frenzy.
Leningrad: the 900 Days, Sergio Leone
While finishing work on Once Upon a Time in America in 1984, Sergio Leone wants to make a military film. He is interested in adapting the book The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad as war epic. It is about the Eastern Front during the Second World War by historian Harrison Salisbury. Leone has an idea to tell the story of an American military photographer played by Robert de Niro, who gets trapped in Leningrad during the German siege. Leone set a $ 100 million budget and employed Ennio Morricone to compose the music for the film when he suddenly died in 1989 at the age of 60.
Return of the Jedi, David Lynch
As Lynch was looking for his next project following the release of The Elephant Man in 1980, he was contacted by George Lucas. The Star Wars mastermind hoped to hire him to direct Return of the Jedi. They met, but Lynch describes getting an intense headache when looking at the many concept drawings Lucas had already commissioned and being put off when Lucas took him to lunch at a restaurant that served only salad – though Lynch does call Lucas “a living legend”. Many Star Wars fans have imagined what Lynch’s version of Jedi would look like, but the director has an answer for them: “In George`s imagination the movie was already done. It wouldn’t have made a difference with me doing it. It would have looked exactly the same.”
The Conquest of Mexico, Werner Herzog
A long-cherished project of Herzog’s which returns to his familiar theme of European colonialism in the New World, but sets out a fictional narrative told from the point of view of the conquered Aztecs, rather than the encroaching conquistadors. While it’s hard to find definitive detail on how far along in the process this film ever got, Herzog must have at least had at some point a strong outline, if not a fully finished screenplay, because it was the prohibitive budget that apparently scuppered his plans to make this film. Prohibitive, that is, for an independently financed project. It would have been chump change to a Hollywood studio, but none of those (those he approached anyway) were going to allow him the creative freedom he wanted to bring his vision to the screen.
Frankenstein, David Cronenberg
Details on this one are pretty fuzzy, but it seems like it was nothing more than an idea, albeit a pretty inspired one, from Canadian film producer Pierre David. He approached Cronenberg in the ’80s with it and the filmmaker offhandedly said yes. Evidently, Cronenberg did think about it a little bit. “It would be a more rethinking than a remake. For one thing I’d try to retain Shelley’s original concept”, but, beyond that nothing seemed to happen.
Superman Lives, Tim Burton
Maybe the most famous aborted superhero reboot in history. Way back in 1996, work began on a new Superman movie that was inspired in part by the caped hero’s return to the cultural consciousness following the Death of Superman comic book storyline. Everything that could go wrong, did. The script never came together. The draft seemed nonsensical and overtly violent. The main problem with Superman Lives is that it was a cool concept whose script seemed to never cohere into something that could be seen as a singularly feasible goal.
An American Tragedy, Sergei Eisenstein
Joseph Stalin and the Soviet government labelled Sergei Eisenstein a “formalist” – then a damning charge – in the late 1920s, so the director began a tour of western Europe and the United States that ultimately brought him to Hollywood. Paramount Pictures head Jesse L Lasky admired his films and in April 1930 offered Eisenstein $100,000 to a make a movie, suggesting he direct an adaptation of Theodor Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy. Six months later, Eisenstein had produced a script, but Lasky found it so depressing that he terminated the contract and paid for Eisenstein’s passage back to Moscow. His work remains an inspiration to many famous filmmakers and is regarded as the father of the montage.
Dune, Alejandro Jodorowsky
Well this one is actually special because there is a a documentary that did got made about how Jodorowsky struggled to bring his vision of Dune to life. Just watch the movie Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Terry Gilliam
Here is the one film that actually got made but it is yet to be seen by the audience.
Adapting Cervantes to the screen has proven just as fraught for director Terry Gilliam. His film, which began pre-production in 1998, was to star Johnny Depp as a present-day marketing executive who travels back through time to Don Quixote’s era. Quixote, played by French actor Jean Rochefort, immediately thinks Depp’s character is Sancho Panza and insists they go on adventures together. When cameras started rolling in 2000, the poor health of Rochefort and difficulties obtaining insurance doomed the production almost immediately. Filming stopped but the footage that had been shot became part of the documentary Lost in La Mancha, about the unravelling of the project. An attempt by Gilliam in 2010 to revive the film with Robert Duvall as Quixote and Ewan McGregor as the time-traveller also fell apart.
Well it is finally coming and it is starring one of the brightest talents of late Adam Driver.
*This list is a compilation from the following sources: BFI, Indiewire, BBC, IMDB,