John Carter (2012)

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A vet of the Civil War finds himself transported on Mars. He discovers a strange world (inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel).


Official Disney synopsis

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E), JOHN CARTER OF MARS brings this captivating hero to the big screen in a stunning adventure epic set on the wounded planet of Mars, a world inhabited by warrior tribes and exotic desert beings. Based on the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom Series, the film chronicles the journey of Civil-War veteran John Carter (Taylor Kitch), who finds himself battling a new and mysterious war amidst a host of strange Martian inhabitants, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins).

From Giants of Mars

Old Tardos Mors, the Jeddak, was so choked with feeling at the miraculous delivery of his city from the hands of their enemy and the safe return of his granddaughter that he was unable to speak for some time when he arose at the dining table to offer the kingdom's thanks to the earthman.
But when he finally spoke, his words were couched with the simple dignity of a great ruler. The intense gratitude of these people deeply touched the earthman's heart.

Ciarán about his character

I'm called a Jeddak, who's one of the tribal leaders on Mars. We're sort of the red men of Mars - almost like antique Roman-y costumes - but we've got tattooed faces and tattooed bodies and we're a darkish, reddish hue. And then there's nine-foot Tharks with four arms and they're all green. That's Willem Defoe and Samantha Morton and they kind of eat people for a living. I thought [when I heard about the film] 'Are they kidding'? And then it read like such a dream, such a fantasy adventure, [a] funny, thrilling ride. And then I realised who was directing it and I just very humbled and thrilled to be asked.

Update from Disney studios

The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.

From the German press kit (translated by Anja)

Academy Award Winner Andres Stanton has realized John Carter - a faszinating fantasy spectacle that is situated after the classic book of Edgar Rice Burroghs John Carter on the mystique and exotique planet Barsom/Mars. The book already had inspired with its most phantasical tales many directors in the past and now. The now for the first time realized version for a movie tells the story of war-tired John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), former Captain in the American Civial War. Carter finds himself without explanation on mars, just to entangle himself into an epic conflict between citizens of the planet, where we find for example Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) and Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe). In a world doomed to die, Carter rediscovers his human side as he realizes that the faith of all souls on the planet lie in his hands.

Walt Disney Pictures presents with John Carter an epic phantacy spectacle, that is bases on Edgar Rice Borroughs classic tale of A Princess Of Mars, opening the Barsoom cycle.

2012 Burroughts protagonist John Carter turns 100 years. Since first publication of the first book the hero is the literatures first "space hero" ever and thrilled with his adventures many generations.

As time went by Carter gave way as first hero ever all other heros of our pop culture - from novels to comics, from illustrations to animation movies, from TV projects to this big cinematographic movie John Carter was turned into. As a matter of fact, John Carter has inspired some of the greatest creative minds of the last century.

Andrew Stanton, Academy Award winning scriptwriter and director, has been from his childhood on a huge fan of the Barsoom books. What has inspired him to bring with John Carter as his first directing job, that is not an animation feature, to live? "I have discovered the book in a perfect age for it. I was ten and fell in love with the storytelling concept of a character who finds himself on mars, in a world new to him and surrounded with stunning creatures. He is a stranger in a strange world. That was for me a very romantic aspect for an adventure and sciencefiction genre. I always imagined how cool it would be to see it all on a big screen."

John Carter is a monumental epic adventure movie with romance, action and political fights, Stanton continues. "Since the book was written such a long time ago, its sort of a gamete for such stories - it was a comic before comics ever were born and an adventure story before it was invented."

How John Carter became a movie

Shooting began Jan 4th 2010 in England. Public interest rose during the shooting and lots of fan sites speculated online over it. A big part of the studio material (together with external shootings for Earth) could be wrapped within 4months at Shepperton Studios London and Longcross Stusios Chelburn.

End of April 2010 the production moved to Utah, USA. Within 12 weeks they shot in Moab near Lake Powell, nearby Bonneville, in Hanksville (where NASA tests its robots), as well as in Big Water - a plain of schist and arenite, where you find the Grand Staircase National Monument a nature protection area.

Although the final movie will show a lot of visual effect, involved creative minds were keen on using original landscapes and locations. One reason is explained by producer Jim Morris: "Whenever possible we use natural locations and replace a potential visual effect to capture for the audience a real feeling. We hopefully bring a lot of authenticity on screen and can enhance credibility and realism of the movie."

"I call it our little piece of mars." Commented producer Colin Wilson on shooting location in Utah, although "little" might not be the best adjective to describe the set, that captures quite a part of the horizon. The gorgeous landscape and nature create a background (together with special set pieces in the foreground) for ruins of a mars metropolis, that will be complete in post production by computers. "Our strategy was to fill in original sets and parts of sets as fundaments for a digital world." Explains Colin Wilson. "These locations here only show one building with one level, but the movie will show lots of towers."

During shooting Andrew Stanton and his team create art from combining traditional movie making and digital magic and awake the story to life. A starting point for his work was for Nathan Crowley to design a distinctive look for each culture. "We show three different cultures on Barsoom. Zodanga, Helium and the Thark-cult. For each we needed different architectonical styles. One for instance, I call as architecture: old-fashioned modernism. I have developed dimensions and adapted that to three metre high Tharks. I was driven by the basic concept that modernistic architecture of the 1960s could have been developed further still. Deducing facts from Earth I have enlarged all we had to set up on Mars, all is oversized bigger and the buildings are broken to create the impression of a collapsed city. The concept was brought forward after we decided on locations to make sure we could integrate landscape into architecture."

Costum designer Mayes C. Rubeo was inspired by director Andrew Stanton for her design on costumes for John Carter. "Andrews vision come from planet Barsoom. You had the impression he really had visited the Barsoom and had seen it. It was our task to pick up all what our mind would allow. The collaboration was amazing, since he is such a visionary and absolutely understands the meaning of work."

To design for a fantasy movie, Mayes C. Rubeo was given a great deal of freedom. "I had the vision of a very old look embedded into a science fiction movie. That is the vision, the Burroughs had developed 100 years ago. Fantastic elements had to top all regarding imagination and color. How citizens of Barsoom wear accessoires, head pieces and elements on their costumes - that all matters a lot in the movie and helps to distinguish citizens. I did a lot of recherché and finally we created a complex look for different tribes, that works effectively and with great drama."

Costumes were a possibility to bring characters to live. This process was supported by the director, actors, experts for visual effects and make-up artists. Each supported the creation for a characteristic culture to bring about a people and within this individuals.

Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins were given a more easier task. They will be seen in the movie as humans. But despite of that physical demands were a great challenge. "John Carter was the most demanding part of my career so far" says Kitsch, because his figure has to overcome gravitation of planet earth on the new planet. "All jumps, stunts and fighting trainings... each scene playing on Mars, I had to do hanging on ropes."

"We had to hang in all imaginative positions in wires and ropes", agrees Collins. Her figure yet even has to display in that a state of princess grace and true warrior qualities. "I believe that after that job my agrophobia simply vanished."

But still, for all actors portraying Marsian Tharks in the way Stanton had made them up, acting and shooting was an even more complex process. For instance, Willem Dafoes figure Tars Tarkas will be seen in the movie as a three metres high alien with four armes being much more bigger then John Carter. To display such a difference of tallness, Dafoe used stilts and wore a grey bodysuit with black markers. Those markers were used in post production as centre of reference for digital processing of moves. Even Dafoes face was covered with marks meanwhile two small helmet cameras captures his facial expressions.

"They really got engaged in it", praises Colin Wilson the actors. "We told all actors in Thark parts what to expect before. After talking to Andrew they basically only asked where to sign for it! I believe that sort of a fast decision displays well enough how well written the script and the development of each character was. It is for all a very special experience. It's a unique possibility to tell a story that has not been told before and create a world that was never shown before.".

And director Andrew Stanton is elated to bring it all to the big screen - this never before told story and this never before shown world. And it's very important for him to communicate excitement and euphoria that had put a spell on him as a kid so much. "It was my intention to enable visitors to really believe in what they see. It's exactly that feeling that came up reading the a good fantasy book and you ask yourself afterwards: "What would it be like to live there."



Character: Tardos Mors
Co-stars: James Purefoy, Polly Walker
Director: Andrew Stanton
Screenplay: Michael Chabon
Run-time: 132 mn
Release date: March 9, 2012

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