Sir Peter Jackson on why it's chocks away for the Dam Busters movie

by Russell Baillie / 01 December, 2018
Still from the 1955 film The Dam Busters, starring Richard Todd as Wing Commander Guy Gibson and Michael Redgrave as Barnes Waillis, inventor of the bouncing bomb.

Still from 1955 film The Dam Busters, starring Richard Todd as Wing Commander Guy Gibson and Michael Redgrave as Barnes Waillis, inventor of the bouncing bomb.

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Peter Jackson has his sights back on his movie about the Dam Busters raids which he has been hoping to make for 15 years.

He tells The Listener that the movie – a new dramatisation of the 1943 bombing of hydroelectric dams supplying Nazi Germany’s industrial heartland, rather than a remake of 1955 screen classic The Dam Busters – is back on the cards in an interview in the magazine’s latest issue.

Jackson is a scriptwriter and producer of the new fantasy epic Mortal Engines, the feature directing debut of long-time acolyte Christian Rivers.

Rivers was originally announced as the director of The Dam Busters 10 years ago, before The Hobbit trilogy interceded.

“We've got the rights for two or three more years,” Jackson told The Listener. “I would be very surprised if you talk to me three years from now and the film hasn't been made.

“I don't think it was even an issue of getting Dam Busters funded. It's really come down to time, because every film you make you devote a couple of years to at least; you always want to focus on it completely and not short change it.

“It is certainly sitting there as a project that we would love to make and have every intention of doing. I am as enthusiastic about Dam Busters now as I ever was.”

Jackson acknowledges that the positive reception for recent World War II movies Darkest Hour and Dunkirk may help the film finally take flight. Replicas of Lancaster bombers, which launched bouncing bombs against the dams, have already been built.

The film was originally offered to Jackson by original producer, the late Sir David Frost, in 2003, with Stephen Fry commissioned to write the screenplay.

Some 56 RAF airmen died in the raid, while flooding from the destroyed dams killed an estimated 1600 civilians. But the most sensitive issue about the project has been about the name of Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s pet black Labrador. The dog’s N-word name was also used as code word during the mission. It died on the night of the raid after being hit by a car.

As well as producing Mortal Engines, Jackson directed the acclaimed World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, which he also discusses at length in the Listener

Pick up the latest issue of the Listener to read more about Peter Jackson and Christian Rivers' Mortal Engines

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