Steven Spielberg To Conquer ‘Montezuma’

Posted by Brian Brooks on 1.6.2014

Steven Spielberg is eyeing Montezuma as his next possible subject. The Lincoln filmmaker will likely take on the epic tale of the complicated clash between the Aztec emperor and Hernán Cortéz, which ultimately lead to the Spanish colonization of Mexico. Javier Bardem has been tapped to play Cortéz, according to a report in Deadline.com.

The online Hollywood trade site said the project stems from a 50 year-old script by Dalton Trumbo that will be re-written by Steve Zaillian, who collaborated with Spielberg on his 1994 Oscar-winner Schindler's List. The film may be titled Cortez since the story will likely unfold from the Spanish conqueror's point of view. Trumbo originally wrote the story for Kirk Douglas who he worked with on Spartacus and Lonely Are the Brave. The 205-page draft was completed in 1965 with Martin Ritt tapped to direct, but the project never proceeded.

Trumbo was considered the most successful of the Hollywood 10, the group that refused to cooperate with the communist witch hunt by the House Un-American Activities Commmittee. After spending 11 months in jail for contempt, Trumbo was blacklisted from Hollywood.

Cortéz entered what is now Mexico in 1519 on the hunt for gold and silver and the zeal for Catholicism. His group also brought with them smallpox. He was initially held as a prisoner by the Aztec ruler, but Cortéz's fortunes later turned, eventually forcing Montezuma to acquiesce. He was later killed by his subjects. For his part, Cortéz managed to father a child from Montezuma's daughter despite the battles.

Spielberg was know to be working on high-tech science fiction feature Robopocalypse, but that has been tabled according to Deadline. Film Society gave a sneak peak of his 2012 hit Lincoln in late 2012. Spielberg's 1974 feature The Sugarland Express debuted at New Directors/New Films that year.

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