Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana (Brokeback Mountain) are in the early stages of scripting two period Westerns, both of them adaptations: The Color of Lightning and Empire of the Summer Moon.
Ridley Scott is on tap to direct Color of Lightning, in which a freed slave plots revenge against the Comanche and Kiowa who kill his son and take the rest of the family captive. The story is loosely based on the same tale that is said to have inspired The Searchers.
Hit the jump fora full synopsis of The Color of Lighting, plus details on Empire of the Summer Moon.
Author S.C. Gwynne described the central character of Empire to Deadline:
“Quanah was the last great Comanche chief, considered the key to what they called ‘The Comanche Barrier’ to settling the West. He came to power very young and led the Comanches in the last great wars against the white man. One of the interesting parts of the story was that his mother was the most famous captive of the era. She was the white squaw who refused to return, until she was finally brought back against her will by the Texas Rangers.”
Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) will direct.
Combine this news with the excellence of True Grit, and it’s a great time to be a fan of Western movies. After years and years of terrible times to be a fan of Western movies.
Here’s the synopsis for The Color of Lightning, by Paulette Jiles
Searching for a life and future, former Kentucky slave Britt Johnson is venturing west into unknown territory with his wife, Mary, and their three children—wary but undeterred by sobering tales of atrocities inflicted upon those who trespass against the Comanche and the Kiowa. Settling on the Texas plains, the Johnson family hopes to build on the dreams that carried them from the Confederate South to this new land of possibility—dreams that are abruptly shattered by a brutal Indian raid upon the settlement while Britt is away establishing a business. Returning to face the unthinkable—his friends and neighbors slain or captured, his eldest son dead, his beloved Mary severely damaged and enslaved, and his remaining children absorbed into an alien society that will never relinquish its hold on them—the heartsick freedman vows not to rest until his family is whole again.
Samuel Hammond follows a different road west. A Quaker whose fortune is destroyed by a capricious act of an inscrutable God, he has resigned himself to the role the Deity has chosen for him. As a new agent for the Office of Indian Affairs, it is Hammond’s goal to ferret out corruption and win justice for the noble natives now in his charge. But the proud, stubborn people refuse to cease their raids, free their prisoners, and accept the farming implements and lifestyle the white man would foist upon them, adding fuel to smoldering tensions that threaten to turn a man of peace, faith, and reason onto a course of terrible retribution. [Amazon]
And here’s the official description for Empire of the Summer Moon:
The vast, semi-arid grasslands of the southern Great Plains could be dominated by hunters and warriors on horseback. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Comanches, often referred to as “lords of the Plains,” were the single most powerful military force in the region, to the frustration of both the Mexican and U.S. governments. In this engrossing chronicle, award-winning journalist Gwynne traces the rise of the Comanche people from their roots as primitive bands of hunter-gatherers to their mastery of the horse and emergence as the feared power brokers of the area. At the center of the narrative is the charismatic Quanah Parker, who skillfully navigated the gaps between his traditional culture and the emerging, settled culture of the late-nineteenth century. Quanah was the son of a Comanche warrior and a woman named Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped at the age of nine and chose to stay with the Comanches. Quanah was a brilliant, feared war chief who guided his people in adapting to new realities after their final suppression by the U.S. Calvary. [Amazon]