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Fischer’s Midnight Ride

Published: September 17, 2010
Section: News


ILLUSTRATION BY Ariel Wittenberg/The Hoot

Brandeis history buffs and movie-goers alike can rejoice this week with news that Professor David Hackett Fischer’s (HIST) book, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” has been optioned for a movie by the American Film Company.

Fischer said his agent was approached by the American Film Company in the spring about turning his book into a movie and that he was “struck by the seriousness” of the company’s being historically accurate.

The American Film Company is a new company, founded by Ameritrade’s Joe Ricketts and is dedicated to making historically accurate films about America that can be released in theaters to a diverse audience. The company’s first film, Conspirator, about the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, premiered this year at the Toronto Film Festival to rave reviews.

“It’s very ambitious,” Fischer said of the company, noting that ‘Conspirator’ was directed by Robert Redford and stars many A-list hollywood actors. “It’s also very impressive.”

A screenplay has already been written from Fischer’s book, which tells the tale of the midnight rider who warned the colonists of the arrival of British troops on the eve of the American Revolution. The movie has tentatively been titled “Midnight Ride.”

“A screenplay for a historical movie has to go beyond the historical record in the construction of dialogue,” Fischer said. “But if it goes beyond it, it doesn’t have to exagerate it. In that regard [‘Midnight Ride’s’] screenplay is very carefully done.”

Fischer will critique the screenplay, written by writers who worked on the screenplay for the 2003 film Intolerable Cruelty. Though the two movies will be very different, Fischer said he is pleased with the results so far.

“[The screenwriters] have a gift for dialogue, but what really pleases me is that they have treated the history with respect and close attention, and I am delighted to see that,” He added.

Fischer’s book, as well as the movie, deals not only with Paul Revere, but with the 60 to 80 other riders who traveled from town to town that night.

“Many people only remember Paul Revere or William Dawes as the riders, but this wasn’t one solitary event or act as we have been taught by Henry Longfellow’s poem,” Fischer explained. “Paul Revere was organizing a major effort, but many of the other riders do make an appearance in the screenplay.”

‘Midnight Ride’ is currently only in development, and Fischer said he could not guess when or if the movie would appear on the silver screen.

Currently, the American Film Company has a survey on its website for the movie asking its visitors whether they would see the movie. Students can vote for or against the film at: http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/films/detail/midnight-ride/

“It should be said that making a major film, and in particular, making a major history film, is very hard to to, it has to work in many ways at once,” Fischer said. “It can go wrong in many ways, but the early signs are encouraging.”