Roman Polanski adapting Broadway play Venus In Furs

Roman Polanski is set to adapt Broadway play Venus In Furs, the David Ives’ directed production that has been winning all sorts of awards in the theatre world.

The plot of the original Venus In Furs, the 1870 novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, involved the tale of a man who was so in love with a woman that he asks to be her slave, allowing her to treat him in any number of degrading ways. Initially hesitant, the woman eventually takes to the idea, and thus from the novel was born the term “masochism”. The David Ives play concerns a director’s attempts to adapt this novel into a play, but struggling to find the right woman to play the lead – until he does, and the power-struggle in their relationship begins to inadvertently run parallel to those of the characters.

So what we have here is Roman Polanski making a film of a Broadway play about making a play of a book. Got that? Good. After Lars von Trier announced Nymphomaniac, Venus In Furs is another instance of a controversial director choosing an erotic drama as their next project. In this instance Roman Polanski is using it to fill time while his other project – a film about the Dreyfus Affair, in which a Jewish soldier is wrongly accused of passing secrets to the Nazis during World War 2 – is stuck languishing in pre-production.

It seems impossible to think that this current spate of erotic-drama – particularly one that follows themes of domination and submission – isn’t inspired by the success of house-wife bothering mummy-porn, 50 Shades of Grey. That book certainly has a lot to answer for, but Polanski – whatever opinions his personal controversies have garnered – is capable of making excellent films, and the dynamic of this one does sound interesting (despite the fact that, given his past, Polanski doing anything “erotic” makes us feel inherently grubby).

Roman Polanski has cast his own wife Emmanuelle Seigner as the lead, so presumably he won’t have to worry too much about life imitating art in terms of accidentally finding himself under his actress’ thrall.

Filming is due to begin in Paris in November.

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