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"It upsets me that Victor Hugo's name is not synonymous with Guernsey."

Tuesday 05 March 2019

"It upsets me that Victor Hugo's name is not synonymous with Guernsey."

Tuesday 05 March 2019

The producer of a film based on the Toilers of the Sea said he thinks the island should benefit more both culturally and commercially from its most famous literary resident.

It is hoped that Toilers of the Sea will be filmed largely on the island involving local dramatic groups with Liam Neeson originally considered for the lead.

David Shanks (above inset) who was recently involved in an adaptation of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure set in Pakistan, is a locally born producer who wants the island to capitalise on Victor Hugo's love for the island. 

"In some places Victor Hugo's name is up there with Shakespeare, in places such as the States, this will be an international film.

"I've always loved the book and always wanted to make a film of it. I was in Guernsey just before Christmas and thought the time was right, partly because of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society film which created a lot of interest and a bit of upset too," he said. 

There were little to no scenes noticeable in the "Potato" film actually filmed in Guernsey but Mr Shanks would like his production to be different. 


Pictured: Colossal octopus by Pierre Denys de Montfort. 

"Its a simple love story really but there're a lot of complicated themes. It's dedicated to the people of Guernsey and we want to film as much as possible on the island and use local dramatic groups. The Channel Islands are a very unique coast line, it's a very special place and not something you can replicate," he said. 

"I am upset that Victor Hugo's name and Guernsey are not synonymous, I do anything I can to put them in the same sentence. I think it should work for he island both culturally and commercially," he said.  

Hauteville House

Pictured: Hauteville House where Victor Hugo wrote the novel.

Toilers of the Sea tells the story of Gillat who arrives on the island with his mother as a subject of great suspicion and battles to win over the woman he falls in love with, including one with a giant octopus. 

"The final scene is very cinematic it involves the sea washing up over his head. Lots of the text is very of its time so people may find it difficult to read, in those days not everyone knew what a particular flower looked like and so it was described in great detail," he said.

Mr Shanks' unusual idea for the film is to let music tell the story with minimal to no dialogue.

"It's a very simple love story but it's about the whole spectrum of human emotion. I think with the right music and the right effects people will be sucked in and hopefully they'll come out with tears in their eyes, I want to pay homage to the book.

"When I first started thinking about doing this film 30 years ago I considered someone like Liam Neeson - ruggedly handsome but slightly off key - to play Gillat. We'll find the right person, we've got a list and it's not a very long list," he said. 

Mr Shanks is currently in the process of raising £100,000 to begin the project and says there is a "lot of excitement" surrounding the production which he hopes will begin filming next year. 

Pictured above: Victor Hugo's original ink drawings for the book via and David Shanks inset. 

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