If you were told that this week will see the release of the latest Al Pacino film, you might be forgiven for expecting another gangster movie; after all, the roles that rocketed him to worldwide fame were in films such as Serpico and The Godfather. You almost certainly wouldn’t be expecting an adaptation of a play by Oscar Wilde. Or for Pacino himself to be playing King Herod.
For years, getting a production of Salomé committed to film has been something of a passion project for Pacino. He first saw it performed in London in 1988 and has already played Herod in a handful of productions, but it wasn’t until he was introduced to Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), who he cast in the lead role,that he began to take the project seriously. Now, to celebrate its UK release, cinemas across the country will be taking part in a special screening, three of which will be held in Leeds.
Salomé is considered Oscar Wilde’s most controversial work, to the extent that when it was released about 123 years ago it was banned from London theatres. From the look of the trailer, Pacino’s version has kept this reputation firmly in mind. The film tells the story of Herod’s desire for his stepdaughter Salomé and her seduction of John the Baptist, and promises to be full of all the blood, lust, greed and revenge that made the original piece so scandalous.
There will be more to the event than this however. Running in a double feature with Salomé will be Wilde Salomé, a documentary that tells the story of how the film was made and the troubles that Pacino faced in adapting and creating it. It also promises to explore his relationship with Wilde, following him on a journey to learn more about the playwright, and the experiences he we went through writing Salomé.
Finally, the screening will culminate with a live broadcast of a Q+A session from the BFI Southbank, featuring both Pacino and Chastain and hosted by Stephen Fry. Fry himself is something of an authority on Wilde, having played him in the 1997 film about the writer’s life, so this looks set to be a must-see feature for any fans of Wilde or Victorian theatre.
Salomé and Wilde Salomé will be showing on September 21st at cinemas across the country. In the Leeds area – the Everyman, the Showcase and at the Kirkstall Vue. Tickets are available online at cinestage.co.uk/salome
Watch the official trailer below: