Hannibal — coming soon, in ancient Punic!

Hannibal — coming soon, in ancient Punic! March 14, 2006

What hath Mel Gibson wrought? He famously shot The Passion of the Christ in Latin and Aramaic, and is now making Apocalypto in ancient Mayan. And now, it seems, he is inspiring other period filmmakers to pursue linguistic verisimilitude. From a report on Vin Diesel‘s upcoming projects, via the Associated Press:

Diesel is going the Mel Gibson route with the “Braveheart”-like epic “Hannibal,” about the 3rd century B.C. Carthaginian leader who led an army riding elephants across the Alps in an assault on Rome.

With plans to direct “Hannibal” himself, Diesel will star in the title role, the film also will take a cue from Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” Diesel aims to shoot the film in Greek, Latin and ancient Punic.

He hopes to begin production next fall, with the film debuting in 2007.

“It’s been a passion project,” Diesel said. “The whole point of doing an epic auteur picture, directing an epic film, it’s one thing to do the Woody Allen thing. It’s another thing to do `Braveheart.’

“If you do something like that, you want to go all the way. Usually, you want to go all the way when the subject matter or topic speaks to you so much that you have these scenes playing out in your head all the time. That’s usually a pretty good indication that you need to find a way to make it.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if, one day, somebody just mixed the languages up a little? Like, say, perhaps someone could make a movie about ancient Egypt in Phoenician or Latin, and then the DVD could have a bonus feature on the controversy that erupted as ancient Egyptians protested their colonization by the Roman Empire, or something, but nobody knew what the protestors were talking about because their placards were all in hieroglyphics.

UPDATE: The link between Gibson and Diesel is even closer than I thought. Contact Music reports:

VIN DIESEL has hired the ancient language expert who helped MEL GIBSON conquer Aramaic in THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST to rework his HANNIBAL biopic into Greek, Latin and Punic. The XXX star was so impressed with BILL FULCO’s work on Gibson’s religious epic he asked him to help him perfect other languages for his upcoming masterpiece, which is set in 200BC. He says, “To do it the way that I planned to do it, I hired a guy named Bill Fulco, who translated The Passion of The Christ from English into Aramaic to translate Hannibal The Conqueror into Greek, Latin and Punic. “Hopefully, taking an honest approach to making Hannibal will make the difference in trying to be as accurate as possible to the point of reconstructing a language (Punic) we haven’t heard on this planet for 2,000 years.”

Um, is “accuracy” what Gibson or Diesel movies are all about?

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