Red Riding novels to be made into film

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The Independent Culture

Red Riding, the dark quartet of novels about police corruption in 70s and 80s Yorkshire that were turned into an addictive television mini-series, is now set to be reborn for global audiences as a Hollywood film.

Ridley Scott, the accalaimed British born director, is expected to direct the film, according to Variety. He is currently in talks with the studio, Columbia Pictures, which has bought the rights to remake.

The film will be based on four novels by the West Yorkshire born writer, David Peace, and the setting for the movie will be transferred from the brooding moors of Yorkshire to an unnamed American location. Scott - who is a major force in Hollywood, having directed films such as Gladiator and Bladerunner - will face the immense task of cutting down the action in the books - which clocked in at more than five hours on the small screen - into a film, and there is speculation as to how he will be able to condense the 19-year-spanning, labyrinthine contents of the novels.

The quartet of novels, Nineteen Seventy-Four, Nineteen Seventy-Seven, Nineteen Eighty and Nineteen Eighty-Three, were all published over the past decade. The books follow Peace's study of power and police corruption framed around the investigation of the disappearance of several young girls and they are set against a backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper murders, with several recurring characters.

Earlier this year, Channel 4 aired the story as a three-part TV adaptation, which begain with a recreation of Leeds. The Channel 4 series was written by Tony Grisoni, best known for collaborating with Terry Gilliam on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and it starred Sean Bean as the sinister Mr Big, alongside Andrew Garfield, David Morrissey, Paddy Considine, Rebecca Hall and Mark Addy.

Julian Jarrold directed the first instalment, while James Marsh - who directed the award winning cinema documentary, Man on Wire - made the second.

While many avid fans of Peace's books had initially been suspicious about the television series, it was universally praised by critics when it was aired, and it achieved an almost instant cult status among viewers. Even Peace was quoted as saying that the television adapatations were, regardless of the books, "a great pieces of art."

This television drama follows in a long list of recent British programmes that have been spotted by American producers and adapted for transatlantic audiences - In The Loop was adapted from The Thick Of It, while the acclaimed BBC series, State of Play, was remade for Hollywood by Kevin Macdonald. In Britain, this sparked a certain degree of cynicism over Macdonald's attempt to re-fashion a very British story along Hollywood lines, although the result was very well received by audiences.

As with State of Play, the story will be transplanted to an American setting, and it is not yet known if the Yorkshire Ripper murders of the 1970s will be referred to in the film version.

Scott and Zaillian previously collaborated on the films, American Gangster, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, and Hannibal, the highly anticipated sequel to the horror, Silence of the Lambs. Zaillian is currently adapting the book, I Hear You Paint Houses, for Martin Scorsese.

Peace moved to Tokyo in 1994 and wrote the quartet while he was there. He has only just returned to the UK this year. His novel, The Damned Utd, based on Brian Clough's fateful 44-day spell in 1974 as manager of Leeds United Football Club ,has also been made into a film with Michael Sheen playing Clough.