Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner appeared at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday where he chatted about his upcoming Prince of Persia graphic novel as well as Disney's in-development movie adaptation of his bestselling videogame.
Some of the more interesting things he had to say:
- While the movie is based on the Sands of Time game, the script does not literally follow beat to beat the storyline of the game. Does not expect any potential film sequels to be based on the subsequent games Warrior Within and The Two Thrones since they took the game's storyline in a different direction. Nothing from either of those games, including characters, will be in the current movie.
- Wants the viewer to be taken on an emotional journey and to care about the characters so that way it's not all just about fighting monsters and action set-pieces.
- Chose the name "Dastan" for the prince because he believes its an old Persian name that means "trickster."
The Dastan is an ornate form of oral history present in Central Asia. The Dastan conveys values and traditions of generations of peoples. A Dastan is centered on one individual who protects his tribe or his people from an outside invader/enemy. This main character sets an example of how one should act; the Dastan has now become a teaching tool. (Read more at the link.)
Whereas, and I think I like these definitions better, a "trickster" is:
-- a human or animal character of a folktale who constantly tries to outsmart or outwit other characters but does not always succeed and is sometimes the loser, not the winner.
--a supernatural figure appearing in various guises and typically engaging in mischievous activities, important in the folklore and mythology of many primitive peoples and usually conceived as a culture hero.
--a character or figure common in Native American and African literature who uses his ingenuity to defeat enemies and escape difficult situations. Tricksters are most often animals, such as the spider, hare, or coyote, although they may take the form of humans as well.
In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and norms of behavior.
- He's happy with the cast and that he trusts director Mike Newell on that because he's an actor's director and will make the movie a special experience for a game-to-film adaptation.
- The film allows the prince to interact with other characters besides fighting them. He said that the pleasures of this type of movie is its large cast of colorful, memorable characters.
- Wants the story to offer viewers a journey that takes them to more places than just a castle.
- Due to secrecy, he would not reveal what powers the prince might have in the movie or discuss key plot elements.
- Said that he at one time he considered doing PoP as an animated film but that the combination of Disney, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Mike Newell doing a live-action movie proved too irresistible.
Last December in a Q&A Mechner was asked what the differences are between writing for a video game and writing for a film? How closely does the movie storyline correspond to the games? At that time he said: "If you summarize the movie in one sentence, it sounds identical to the first Sands of Time videogame, but scene by scene it's actually completely different. It has to be, because games and film are such different mediums. On the surface they're deceptively similar -- you can watch five minutes of an action-adventure videogame and think "this could be a movie," or vice-versa -- but structurally the requirements are totally different.
Here's one example: The game kicks off with a cataclysm that basically destroys the world and turns all living creatures except for the three main characters into raging, murderous sand monsters. That was a great setup for the gameplay we had, which was "acrobatic Persian survival horror."
But if you put that setup in a film, it would be a "B" movie, and that's not the kind of movie Prince of Persia should be. Our model is classic epic, swashbuckling action-adventure movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Zorro, and Thief of Baghdad, with humor and romance and full of memorable characters. You can't get there if you turn everybody into sand monsters on page fifteen."
Since we know how Mechner has envisioned Dastan maybe it's time to take a sneak peek into where some filming will take place.
FIRST LOOK! FIRST LOOK!
According to several travelers to Morocco this past June, film sets were being erected at the fortified city of Aït Benhaddou along the Ouarzazate River in the High Atlas Mountains. Neither report included pics of the sets, but lucky for us some kind Flickrerers took a pop by. . .
Looks like the PoP set has been constructed just on the other side of the ksar.
Aït Benhaddou looks like something right out of the Universal/Disney/Paramount backlot. Even though many films have used this location throughout the years, there are in fact as many as ten families who still live within the ksar.
If you're planning a weekend break to Aït Benhaddou note that it is accessible from Ouarzazate and Marrakech, however, buses do not run direct to Aït Benhaddou but can drop you off at the turn off about 7km away from where you will have to get a lift.
From Marrakech it will be a full day trip and the best advice is to organize a private tour if you do not have much time.
Or one could travel to Aït Benhaddou the old fashioned way.
Photo manip courtesy of Ripten. Other photos courtesy of Flickr/Alison and Peter, Flickr/edisoncps, Flickr/SusieQMoon, Flickr/talkingdoguk