Diving into the backstory of one of the world’s most famous paintings, The Medusa follows artist Théodore Géricault and his relationship to the tragic events that inspired his harrowing and politically significant masterpiece, “The Raft Of The Medusa.” Jesse Eisenberg is playing Géricault with Pierce Brosnan as his uncle and nemesis, Caruel. Vanessa Redgrave is the painter’s anti-royalist innkeeper.
Girl With A Pearl Earring helmer Peter Webber is directing from a script by Sophia Al-Maria that’s based on Jonathan Miles’ 2007 book, The Wreck Of The Medusa. Nadine de Barros and Robert Ogden Barnum’s Fortitude International is selling the project in Cannes with production eyed for this summer/fall. Raffaella De Laurentiis of Raffaella Productions and Das Films’ Sriram Das and Mark Collins are producing. De Barros, Barnum and Andrea Chung are exec producers.
Set during the turmoil of post-Napoleonic France, the story centers on Géricault, artist and enfant terrible, who learns that his best friend has died after the Naval vessel Medusa runs aground near Senegal. His death and those of over 100 others were horrific due to incompetence on the part of an aristocratic captain.
Plunged into grief, and entangled in a passionate but doomed love affair with his uncle’s young wife, Géricault begins to search for a reason to live. In this quest, he becomes morbidly obsessed with the disaster — and with seeing justice served. Risking his social standing, his sanity and his one chance at true love, the painter transforms from a frivolous artist and playboy into an activist and investigator, revealing the truth of the captain’s crimes, and painting a masterpiece of 19th century art that convicts the French government in the court of public opinion.
De Laurentiis says, “Before the sinking of the Titanic, the story of The Medusa was the greatest sea disaster people had heard of. I was captivated the first time I saw Gericault’s painting of it in the Louvre and for the next twenty years I wanted to see it become a film. So, it was a joy to discover that Peter Webber had conceived of a way to tell the story from the painter’s perspective that made it emotional and poignant within the epic scope of the tragedy.”