As I mentioned in my opening post to this blog, a film adaptation of Paradise Lost is currently in pre-production. I am still very ambivalent about this cinematic endeavor: while there is evidence to suggest that Milton originally thought his work meant for the stage (the original version was in 10 books, easily translated into a 5 act play), much of the poem is concerned with how the celestrial cannot be communicated through refernece to the senses. As Raphael responds to Adam’s request for him to recount events otherworldly:
High matter thou enjoin’st me, O prime of men,
Sad task and hard; for how shall I relate
To the human sense th’invisible exploits
Of warring spirits? (V. 563-66)
Raphael is conveying here the difficutly in communicating that which is immaterial to a being whose thoughts are materially based. Milton subtly communicates to us a warning not to read the poem literally but appreciate the metaphors used to describe the heavenly war, which even fall short. (Makes the decision to shoot the film in 3-D even more egregious.)
At any rate, according to an article on Salon.com, there is a tentative frontrunner for the part of Satan, Bradely Cooper. Regarding Cooper’s physical attributes, this is actually a great choice: while being ripped, Copper has rather an impish quality about his good looks.
Acting-wsie, though, I am not sure that he is ready to pull off the tragic hero role. His body of work so far has been comedic – I remember him first as the stereoptyped misogynist jock who loses the girl in “Wedding Crashers” (2005). In his breakout role as Phil in “The Hangover” (2009), I saw a bit of the tempter figure. But I am concerned if he will be able to pull off the grandiose, baroque arch-rebel to deliver Miltonic verse such as “The mind is its own place, and in itself/ Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” or “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven” (I.254-55 and 262).