Wednesday, November 5

Audacity of Hope: The Movie

I have a Dream that one day in the no too distant future men and women of every creed and colour will sit down in a cinema and watch a biopic of the instant legend Barack Obama, purveyor of hope extraordinaire. This particular aspect of the dream does not require one to shut their eyes too tightly to imagine that it will indeed come to pass, with soft murmurings of "Impossible is Nothing". The rather more fantastic aspect of this Dream is my wish to be the director, the helmsman of such an ambitious project. Such is the inspirational effect of the Obama movement that I, an Igboman steeped in the traditions of Iweka Road, hub of the nonsense- fueled industry that is Nollywood, the Nigerian movie market, can aspire to the heights of actually shooting a picture about a man who has been making history since he spoke so eloquently at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Scratch that, since he was elected the first black president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review.

Anyway, one can but dream.

I saw a slideshow on the BET website listing possible actors for roles in a Barack Obama movie. As I had already been contemplating this possibility, I went off on a tangent and decided that I would put together this movie in my mind in readiness for that not-too-distant future when I might be called upon to call the shots on what could be, if voter turnouts on November 4th are anything to go by, the highest grossing film ever. If you want to see BET's picks for the characters, refer to and enjoy their take on events. I decided to go one step further and structure the entire movie with plot, setting, budget, the works based on today's market.

One must begin at the beginning though so I pondered on an apt title. A box office draw. Films like The Shawshank Redemption have been hampered at the box office by their overly cerebral, ponderous titles. At the same time, the Quantum of Solace set about demolishing box office records despite a name that is more tongue twister than cinema gold. The draw is in the brand and the Obama brand is strong. Moreover, the ever prepared Senator has already provided several possible titles strong enough to plug a movie charting his stride to the White House. Audacity of Hope, the title of his bestselling book, is a sure banker as is Hope. However, Dreams From My Father, which adorns the cover of his lesser known but equally bestselling memoirs does not, for me, capture the essence of the Presidential campaign. Yes We Can is too uppitty and rather more suited to a West End musical, as is Change We Can Believe In which would come off as didactic and synonymous with a BBC documentary.To give my movie the Nnamdi Awa-Kalu stamp of originality, I toyed with "The Colour of the White House"; I like the suggestive double entendre. For punch, one can never discount a straight- talking "Barack", but Obama is a lot more of a character than one line can convey so I finally settled on "40 Years Later" to reflect the context of the Civil Rights movement as well as the lifespan of the man.

Ok we're getting tasty now. The maltesers sugar rush is building. I had to then decide on who to play the characters. BET picked Harry Lennix Jr., the actor who plays Monica's father in Love And Basketball to take the lead, and to be honest, though I have never seen him do anything masterful I am aware that actors like him can often reinvent themselves spectacularly for roles like this, especially in biopics (ask Forest Whitaker). I would personally prefer Don Cheadle, who, were he a couple of shades lighter would fit the bill perfectly. He can play Obama Sr. However, Will Smith is certifiable box office dynamite and a good actor to boot. He has the voice and delivery to step into Obama's dulcet-toned shoes, a suitable blend of the gray and black of the president- elect's hair colour, and above all, pointy ears. Anyone who has seen Pursuit of Happyness will also know that the man can act.

For the rest of the characters, sassy Regina King (voice of the Boondocks' Riley) as picked by BET, would make a terrific Michelle O (why didn't I think of it first) and not only because she has worked with Will Smith before (Enemy of the State) otherwise Sanaa Lathan or Kerry Washington can do it. Jeff Bridges can reprise his role as "the Dude" in Big Lebowski for the role of Bill Ayers in real hippy style, Jamie Foxx can play Martin Luther King as he's a great actor and the totally hilarious Kat Williams will assume the role of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright for real laugh-out-loud moments. As the other major players, nobody is taking Sarah Palin away from Tina Fey who sent her up on Saturday Night Live like nobody else could. And forget Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones has got be George Bush. John Travolta gets Bill Clinton (go watch Primary Colours) and The Weakest Link's Ann Robinson can learn an American accent and play Hillary. I cannot think of anyone to play McCain. Damn.

The movie itself will play out like this- starting out as the credits roll in with Obama's speech in New Hampshire where he brought the house down with his power of oration, Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come palying softly in the background as the scene shifts between Nashua and the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC where MLK delivered the I Have A Dream speech 40-odd years earlier. In the opening scene, Obama wakes up from a nightmare in his Chicago home on the eve of the 2004 Democratic Party Convention where he is billed to give the keynote address that will launch him into national consciousness. Michelle Obama soothes him through what appears to be a recurring dream- he keeps seeing MLK on the balcony, the bullet ripping through his ear, Jesse Jackson's arms flailing and MLK whispering something incoherent to him. Then the keynote address itself and Michelle Obama, pithy and supportive, murmuring "Don't screw it up, buddy" as Obama approaches the lectern. As the speech finishes and applause rings loud and long, with newsreaders' voices providing a voice over ("the junior senator from Illinois today confirmed himself a rising star of the Democratic party") that fades into the background, we see a young Obama (Jaden Smith) attending school in Indonesia, young and gleeful. The movie quickly speeds up to see a teenage Obama (played by Will Smith- that man can play any age from eighteen to fifty without need for makeup) playing basketball and then arguing with his grandparents about his heritage and eventually experimenting with drugs. In his college years, he will ask to be called Barack instead of Barry and one troublemaker will quip "So you think you're Muhammed Ali now huh, did any Vietcong call you n*****?". Young Barack, showing the signs of the calm statesman to come will retort "This is a change I believe in". And on the movie will go to cover his mother's death after which he starts to have dreams about his father prompting him to travel to Kenya to seek out his other family. It will feature one love scene where after a while under Michelle O's tutelage in a Chicago law firm, he finally seduces her and takes her home for one-on-one time (the scene just writes itself- Michelle O screaming Yes He Can and whatnot). And then thereafter, it's all political as Obama's career as a public servant takes off. The whole idea will be to present a humane side to the Christ-like Obama reported in the press. We'll see him argue with his wife and lose, suffer at housework, and worship in church where Kat Williams' take on the audaaaaaaaaaacity of hope will be riveting. He will be haunted by the MLK dream throughout the film but also comforted by dreams from his father, offering wise words he never experienced in real life. Don Cheadle will have a booming laugh and smoke a pipe in this role. It will of course climax at the Democratic Convention of August '08, 80,000 gathered in affirmation of Obama, and then peter out with handheld camera footage of a scene from the victory party in Grant Park, the crowd watching Obama's speech on a jumbotron as O promises Sasha and Malia a puppy. Yes I have given this a lot of thought.

Ah, but to dream.

I shall try to write a play or something once I can summon the courage. Until then I have to hope that this "movie" will be made an even greater watch by a strong first four years in office that deliver on all the promises of Obama's campaign. G-Obama!


Mr Starks said...


Diva said...

"...he finally seduces her and takes her home for one-on-one time (the scene just writes itself- Michelle O screaming Yes He Can and whatnot)..."
i actually visualized the scene and it was too damned funny... "Yes-He-Can!" and no this is not all i got from the writing (which was very enthralling btw) but i chose to comment on this...hehehe

D!@mOnD said...

Ann Robinson with an american accent, playing Mrs Clinton??? hilarious! i already watched this "movie" in my head...INTERESTING STURVS!

Arytahz Storee said...

"...he finally seduces her and takes her home for one-on-one time (the scene just writes itself- Michelle O screaming Yes He Can and whatnot)..."

LOOOOL i actually teared!! I actually "watched" it play out in my head lool! Yup defo Smith and King for Mr&Mrs O. Jack Nicholson for McCain! or maybe Michael Chiklis?