Tom Hanks Developing WWII Drama IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS for Universal

     November 28, 2011

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Ever the history buff, Tom Hanks is looking to adapt Erik Larson’s World War II nonfiction best-seller In the Garden of Beasts for Universal. Based on the real life accounts of William Dodd, the US Ambassador to Berlin in 1933, In the Garden of Beasts takes place during Hitler’s mounting atrocities in Nazi Germany. Dodd’s daughter, Martha, becomes swept up in her newfound flamboyant lifestyle and has several liaisons with members of the upper echelon of the Third Reich. At first taken in by the enthusiasm for restoration by German nationals, the family soon comes to realize the horrors behind the Nazi movement. Hit the jump for more on In the Garden of the Beasts.

News of Hanks’ involvement with In the Garden of Beasts comes via THR. Hanks will produce with Gary Goetzman through Playtone, and is eyeing the project as a starring vehicle. He can next be seen in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

in-the-garden-of-beastsLarson has previously written The Devil and the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America which is in development by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Check out the full synopsis for In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin (via Amazon):

Erik Larson has been widely acclaimed as a master of narrative non-fiction, and in his new book, the bestselling author of Devil in the White City turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power.

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance–and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming–yet wholly sinister–Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

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