For many years, we’ve held a torch for the idea of David Fincher directing Morgan Freeman in an adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama. There was talk of a live-action film for quite some time, and more recently of a CGI animated film with the creative team of Fincher and Freeman intact. But over the weekend one of First Showing‘s stringers caught up with Fincher at a presentation of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and he had bad news.

“It looks like it’s not going to happen,” said Fincher. “There’s no
script and as you know, [Morgan Freeman’s] not in the best of health
right now. We’ve been trying to do it but it’s probably not going to

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise; the picture has gone no further than the discussion stage since the beginning of the decade. The fact that is has survived so long is mostly thanks to Freeman. But I don’t believe there has ever been a script, or any significant studio-backed design work.

That’s because, Freeman’s health notwithstanding, Clarke’s novel isn’t the easiest thing to crack. It begins with the arrival in our solar system of a thirty-mile long cylindrical starship, named Rama by observers. A ship called Endeavor, manned by a crew of twenty, is sent to explore Rama, but eventually has to leave the alien craft as it travels closer to the sun. The team explores the interior of Rama, which features a sort of complete biosphere, but the novel concludes with few grand revelations or shocks.

It is a fantastic novel, but the structure makes for difficult filmmaking; it’s the sort of thing that even Andrei Tarkovsky would have struggled with, which is exactly why the idea of Fincher and Freeman tackling the project was so appealing.