Against the wishes of Mel Gibson and the film’s director, the first trailer for The Professor and the Madman has been released online. First, the details. The biographical film is based on the book The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester and chronicles the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, which was steered by Professor James Murray (Gibson) who enlisted the help of Dr. William Chester Minor (Sean Penn), who had been imprisoned for murder. As publication loomed, the committee behind the dictionary moved to strike the Minor’s involvement from the record, while Murray aimed to have Minor’s work recognized.
Now, the tea. The film has been sitting on the shelf for quite some time as Gibson and his Icon Productions were locked in a legal battle with Voltage Pictures. Gibson claimed that Voltage refused final cut privileges and denied the film’s director the opportunity to have five additional days of shooting. Gibson and Icon sued Voltage, but last June a judge ruled in favor of Voltage Pictures, meaning the cut of the film being released has not been approved by Gibson nor the film’s director Farhad Safina. As a result, the film’s director and co-writer is now listed as “P.B. Shemran”.
The trailer actually doesn’t look half-bad. Penn is doing his usual mumbling thing, but overall it looks fairly handsomely crafted and it’s honestly an engaging story. But given the lengths to which Gibson and the director went to alter the cut, one imagines this version of the film may not hold up as well when watched as a whole.
See for yourself in the Professor and the Madman trailer below. The film also stars Natalie Dormer, Jennifer Ehele, Jeremy Irvine, Eddie Marsan, Ioan Gruffudd, and Steve Coogan. A release date has not yet been set.