Shane Carruth, the visionary auteur behind Primer and Upstream Color, appears to be in a state of purging. Following an intense interview last month in which Carruth excoriated the studio system and confirmed his impending retirement, the filmmaker revived the Upstream Color Twitter account to share a captivating sizzle reel for an unmade epic, A Topiary—a sighing tease of the movie’s potential. Last night, he resurfaced on Twitter to share the bones of yet another unproduced project, this one a “nautical action adventure” called The Modern Ocean.
“That’s the script for The Modern Ocean,” Carruth wrote in a tweet containing a Dropbox link. “I kept it quiet for a long time because...I don’t like scripts because they are not movies and movies are not film and I just didn’t want to be embarrassed. But now I think it might be fun. It’s all good, now.” Read the script in its entirety here.
Carruth had assembled an all-star cast for the project—Keanu Reeves, Daniel Radcliffe, Anne Hathaway, Jeff Goldblum, and Tom Holland had all signed on when The Modern Ocean was announced in 2015. It was described by the filmmaker as being “about shipping routes and trading commodities, pirates and privateers [and] a tragic romance,” adding that its “skirmishes escalate into full-scale naval battles using these improvised weapons on these cargo ships.”
The oceanic milieu is also teased in a short reel depicting crashing waves, beaches, and seaside roads. As in the A Topiary sizzle reel, a voiceover lays out the bones of the story:
He once owned something that I wanted. So I stayed close to him. I was selfish and thought maybe I could get it one day. And then, much later, it was gone but my alignment to your father was still there. The momentum behind it. Something happens. Something forms into a mold, you confuse what you’re doing with why you’re doing it and then you’re a man and you’re old.
In other tweets, Carruth shares snippets of the score he was in the process of composing, as well as the stories they were meant to underscore.
“But if you decide to read The Modern Ocean,” he continues in another tweet, “please play this to go along with it.” The track, like the others, is gauzy and grand, conveying a sense of wonder amidst its storm of strings and horns.
“Normal people keep these things hidden and I honestly think everyone has their thing they haven’t shown,” Carruth wrote to a fan asking why he was sharing the materials. “We’re in a different space now I guess and I don’t want to leave anything on the floor. It’s not a gambit or a play. I just have it.”
Carruth says he has “one last project” in front of him before he steps back from filmmaking. We look forward to it eagerly.
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