There have been few examples in cinema history of unrealized visions by popular auteurs or time-continuum-imploding gatherings of unique talent that have sadly yielded non-starter results for varying reasons. But usually most die at birth from lack of backing finances. The most infamous is perhaps Alejandro Jodorowsky's science fiction epic adaptation of Frank Herbert's "Dune," (soon to be chronicled in an upcoming documentary) which was to be shot in 70mm, feature performances from Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Mick Jaggar, Alain Delon, original music by Magma, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, feature the designs of Moebius, HR Giger, Richard Corben and special effects by Dan O'Bannon. OK, that does sound like the greatest film ever made. Or the single greatest cinematic collaboration of all time.
For me, tied with that is the following failed collaboration, (brought to my attention by Alamo Drafthouse programmer Sam Prime), which was to be between two VERY unlikely cinematic forces that couldn't be on further planes of greatness from each other. It all began in 1988 with two infamous Israeli cousins. Cannon Films, the subject of the upcoming Drafthouse Films release ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, who eyed a script called LE TIGRE shopped by Polish mad genius auteur Andrzej Zulawski, creator of truly one of the very best films of the 1980's, the emotional nuclear explosion POSSESSION.
Cannon heads Globus and Golan suggested Dolph Lundgren(!) as the lead in this Vietnam-set action period piece about POW escapees who wander in a village where they encounter a man-eating tiger and must fight for their life. If you have seen a single Zulawski film (ON THE SILVER GLOBE, SZMANKA, THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT) you would know that his unhinged emotional intensity, full-throttle hysterics and impossible camera angles combined with the ripped manimal Dolph Lundgren would yield the perfect "arthouse action film." And that's a genre that is unfortunately under-produced.
"It was a project all that is serious, but there was production matters, I regret because I'd like to work with him," said Lundgren when asked about the possibility of working with Zulawski, "I met him in Paris, his story was really very interesting. It isn't forgotten, it will happen maybe." Damn.
Anyway, here is the synopsis for LE TIGRE which was pitched at The American Film Market 1988:
The year is 1954. In the last days of the French colonization of Viet Nam, three soldiers face defeat in battle, a terrifying escape, and an incredible adventure. LE TIGRE tells the story of Alain, a young recruit, Max, an American Intelligence Officer, and Crion, a French captain. Captured by the Vietnamese after the fall of Dien Bien Phu, they are forced on a 500-mile death march. Against all odds, they escape into the jungle, and begin a battle for survival.
Their journey takes them to a village where they will encounter a different kind of danger. When a man-eating tiger attacks, the villagers believe the war is bringing death to them. They convince the three strangers that it is their responsibility to kill the tiger. And so the hunt begins... combining unparalleled action, fascinating characters, and a strange and moving love story, LE TIGRE is a motion picture of primal force and adventure like none ever experienced before.
And coincidentally, LE TIGRE sounds similar to the follow up feature film now pre-production from BULLHEAD director Michaël R. Roskam called simply TIGER. You can read about that here.