Skip to comments.Movie makers interested in Hannah Duston story
Posted on 08/24/2006 3:02:10 PM PDT by Pharmboy
HAVERHILL - Several independent movie makers and script writers are interested in bringing controversial Colonial heroine Hannah Duston to the big screen. Scott Baron, CEO of Los Angeles-based Dynamo Entertainment, a new film-making company that seeks to produce as many as five low- to mid-budget movies per year, said his writers have already started developing a script about Duston "to see if we can do her story justice while creating a moving and exciting film."
Duston made history March 15, 1697, when she was kidnapped by Abenaki Indians, who killed her infant daughter by bashing the baby's head against a tree. Two weeks later on March 30, Duston escaped with her nursemaid and a young boy from an island in the middle of the Merrimack River near present-day Concord, N.H., by killing and scalping as many as 10 of her captors.
"The Colonial time and locale of the story really caught my eye," said Baron, stepson of prolific movie producer Art Levinson. "There seems to be such a reliance on weaponry, gadgets and explosions these days. But Hannah Duston's story is compelling without relying on such devices.
"This is a story not only with a strong female lead but also a solid tale of triumph over adversity and overwhelming odds," Baron said.
Hollywood has served up such recent movies based in Colonial Massachusetts as "Amistad," "The Crucible" and "The Scarlet Letter."
Benjamin Jackendoff, another Los Angeles film producer who recently worked with director Larry Cohen on "Phone Booth," is also intrigued by Duston's story, which he said he read about as a college literature student and recently in a newspaper account of her re-emergence as a controversial figure in Haverhill.
"Her story is every parent's worst nightmare," Jackendoff said. "She's a strong, complex and ambiguous character. That lends itself to a narrative that combines the very different versions of her story from Cotton Mather and the Abenaki. After working with Larry Cohen, you can't help but see the commercial potential for a thriller in a story like that."
In a version of the story by the Abenaki tribe, Duston is more blood-thirsty murderess and less victim. In the Abenaki account, she befriended members of the tribe, got several of them drunk and then slaughtered them with a hatchet as they slept.
In the Colonial version, Duston returned home to Haverhill in a canoe, and the government rewarded her with 50 pounds sterling and other gifts. In 1879, she became the first woman in America to be immortalized with a statue, and her story was told in accounts by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Cotton Mather and Henry David Thoreau. Although she is the heroine of several books, she has yet to be portrayed in a movie.
Interest in Duston's story and her past were rekindled recently when she was made official ambassador of this Saturday's battle of the bands organized by Team Haverhill and the city. Posters of Duston holding an electric guitar, in place of the axe she wields in her Main Street statue, have been hung throughout the city.
Media accounts of Duston and Haverhill have appeared in newspapers across the country since The Eagle-Tribune published a story Friday about the city's use of Duston as a symbol of its downtown revival.
"It's the ultimate feminist story," said Rebecca Day, a Massachusetts native and freelance writer who has done script development for Hallmark Entertainment and Lifetime Television. "It has all the qualities of a hot Lifetime movie. I would pitch it as 'Ransom' meets 'The Crucible.'"
Day said she is particularly intrigued by Duston's psychological makeup.
"What interests me is exploring what made her tick," Day said. "I think the story perfectly illustrates what happens when one's world turns into chaos. A person really has to go into survival mode, regardless of what role society thinks he or she is supposed to play. Although women at this time were considered second-class citizens, I think it's funny how many men so easily became her followers and admirers."
Constantine Valhouli, principal of a Bradford company that specializes in revitalizing historic urban centers and who is helping to promote the music festival, said he has spoken to representatives from New York and Los Angeles production houses about Duston.
"Hannah's story would make a good film for the same reason she makes a great symbol for Haverhill," Valhouli said. "Her story of courage and conflict is timeless. Change the details slightly and it is still happening around the world."
Day, the Los Angeles producer, said he believes Duston's story could be produced on a reasonable budget and still connect with audiences.
"The biggest issue that films like this will face is that period films are often expensive to produce," he said, noting that the most recent film of the genre, "The New World," was a critical disappointment. On the other hand, "Dances with Wolves" grossed over $424 million, and "Last of the Mohicans" made over $100 million, he said.
Haverhill reporter Shawn Regan may be contacted at 978-373-1000, or email@example.com.
Paging Milla Jovovich. Milla Jovovich, line 1, please.
THE REDEEMED CAPTIVE RETURNING TO ZION is an interesting account similar to this in some ways. Same time period, the Indians were proven to be heartless murderers and quite savage.
Please freepmail me to get ON or OFF this list.
You must be mistaken...they were all harmless, lovable beings communing with nature and only became EVIL after the white man came here. /sarcasm
Sounds like Wes Studi will be in another picture. You can bet he'll be one of the villans.
Why'd she slay her infant girl so brutally?
The Abenakis killed her infant...
But...but...what about the Indian with the tear rolling down his cheek at the pollution?
It has nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with the maternal instinct.....IMO
The film maker was careful not to use the "E" word. It was "adversity" she faced. 300 years later a Hezbollah terrorist hero did the same thing to an Israeli toddler after killing the child's father. Hezbollah now seeks his release in a prisoner exchange. Should have scalped him when they caught him, IMHO.
Sounds like a fusion of
"The Searchers" and
Not gonna happen. There's no homosexual love angle.
They were just fulfilling the scriptural prophecy of Psalms 137:9.
*cough* Crow Creek *cough*
Go here to see the connection of Hannah Dustin genealogy and Cheney genealogy.
That could be because you have no comprehension of how men viewed women, but simply detail in abbreviated cliches.
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