Our desire to entertain and inform ourselves apparently knows no bounds. And producers, writers, directors, and other creatives are hard at work trying to keep up with our apparently insatiable demands. After all, how much more screen time can we possible create?
Maybe because there's so much pressure to crank out entertaining long-form content – in theaters, cable pay, and video subscription streaming channels – derivative ideas are becoming the currency. Remakes, reboots, and movies with numbers after their titles have all become part of the pastiche of pop culture. Including music and the people who make it.
And perhaps it took flight with the Academy Award winning smash, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” followed by “Rocket Man,” “Yesterday,” and the slew of other films made around great Classic Rock songs and the stars who wrote and performed them.
But now, we may be moving away from biopics, and to filmed stories based around a song. The newest press release from Classic Rock world features a progressive rock band you may not have thought about for a while – or ever – Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.
Originally, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer formed what was known as a “supergroup” 50 years ago. The band enjoyed success on rock radio in the early 70's. Their symphonic music had flavors of classical and jazz, very much in the spirit of other bands from the era – Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and later, ELO, Queen, and Rush.
These days when albums are on the way out, and hooky three-minute singles are the only vehicles that seemingly work on both the radio and on Spotify, complex, symphonic works from progressive rock bands just don't exist today.
That's why the news last week that ELP's “Karn Evil 9” is being turned into a dystopian scifi movie may have caught some music and film critics alike off-guard. But when you consider the song (or the movements) are nearly a half hour long, it all makes sense.
The album that contained this opus is “Brain Salad Surgery” (pictured at the top of this post), featuring the stunning artwork designed by the late Swiss painter, H.R.Giger. In those days, almost as much attention went to the album covers, jackets, lyrics, and sleeves as it did for the actual music pressed on vinyl. It was all part of the package. “Brain Salad Surgery” finished at an impressive #12 on Rolling Stone's list of the 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums Of All Time, becoming a signature work by ELP.
And that's why this new film project makes so much sense. The only surviving member of the band – percussionist Carl Palmer – used social media to announce and hype the project, produced by Radar Pictures, the team behind the “Jumanji” films.
— Carl Palmer (@ELP_carl) February 14, 2020
According to Deadline, the New York Times' author Daniel H. Wilson is writing the screenplay, inspired by ELP's lyrics and recording. It's an interesting concept. According to Deadline's Amanda N'Duka, the plot line goes like this:
“Centered on a society that has drained all its blood with a dependence on technology, the film will explore the world controlled by a pervasive and dictatorial technocracy. The annual “Karn Evil” — a macabre rite of passage — is a young person’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience unbridled freedom, before subjugating themselves to the ruling class. When people stop returning from their Karn Evil experience, fear drives a revolution to topple the status quo and the artificial intelligence discovered at its heart.”