December 17, 2008

The Sparrow

In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet which will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own.

What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being "human." When the lone survivor of the expedition, Emilio Sandoz, returns to Earth in 2059, he will try to explain what went wrong... Words like "provocative" and "compelling" will come to mind as you read this shocking novel about first contact with a race that creates music akin to both poetry and prayer.

Dramatis Personae

The Crew

Hugh Jackman as Father Emilio Sandoz- Father Sandoz is of Puerto Rican descent and small in stature. He likes to wear a long goatee, which coupled with his dark complexion, gives him the look straight out of the Spanish Inquisition. Emilio is very outgoing, personable, and quick to laugh. After his return home, he is withdrawn, very sick, and prone to angry outbursts.

Mia Maestro as Sofia Mendez- Sofia is of Sephardic descent (that is, her ancestors were Spanish Jews). She is very beautiful, dark and exotic. She is also highly intelligent, being the foremost expert in her field. She is essentially an indentured slave and works tirelessly to repay her debt and thereby earn her freedom. Because of this, she has developed little to no social skills and often feels out of place with the other characters.

Helen Mirren as Anne Edwards- Anne is in her late fifties, with fine, white hair and a runner's body. She's never had children and has taken very good care of herself and it shows. She has a vibrant personality and is "compact, quick, and intellectually fearless". She is a biological anthropologist with experience in emergency medicine and becomes the group's Doctor/Den mother.

Peter Fonda as George Edwards- George, Anne's husband, is a retired engineer. He pairs well with Anne, having a quick wit to go along with her sense of humor. He also completely trusts his wife, often joking about Emilio and Anne's relationship being more than friendship. He is described as having "a good face...full of humor and welcome...a full head of silver hair but with the alarming leanness one associated with chronic HIV or toxic hyperthyroidism, or aging runners." He's a daredevil and is in tent on enjoying life to the fullest.

Jim Parrick as Jimmy Quinn- Jimmy Quinn is the youngest of the group. He is the astronomer who first discovers the radio signal from Rekhat. He is described as "not handsome. The nose was too long and no particular shape, the eyes too close together and set deep as a monkey's, the semi-circle smile and the red curling hair like scribbles in a child's drawing." He is somewhat unsure of himself and is also a bit clumsy. He is enamored with Sofia and struggles to hold his feelings inside.

Frank Collison as D.W. Yarbrough- D.W. is an older priest who is in charge of the mission to Rakhat. He is the head Jesuit priest in the Texas area and speaks with a deep Texas twang. Anne also refers to him as the ugliest man she has ever seen. He has a long broken nose, a cast eye, and a loose-lipped grin that shows very crooked teeth. D.W. has a military background in the Marines; he is the Captain and pilot of the mission. He also has a history with Emilio, being the priest who found Emilio on the streets and set him on the path to priesthood.

Lambert Wilson as Marc Robicheux- Marc is a priest who specializes in art, a naturalist and watercolorist from Montreal. "Blond hair graying at 43, he remained one of those perenially youthful looking men, soft-spoken and gentle-eyed." He is one of two members of the crew who did not know each other before the mission

The Society

Frank Langella as Father General Vincenzo Guiliani- The Father General is the leader of the Jesuit order. He is in his late seventies and described as "a big man, attractively bald, straight and formidible in his old age." He has the task of discovering what happened on the mission to Rakhat and protection Emilio from the rest of the world as he heals, both physically and spiritually. He also holds Emilio in high esteem since they were in Jesuit school together. He is actually a year younger than Emilio, but because of the affects of relativity, Emilio only aged about 5 years where 38 years passed on Earth.

Micheal Chiklis as Father John Candotti- John is from Chicago and is brought in to help care for Emilio. He has the demeanor of an 'average joe' and becomes Emilio's closest friend. John has a knack for putting people at ease and has a gift for forgiveness. He is also good with his hands; Candotti creates many utensils and tools for Emilio to use due to his injury. He likes to quote his favorite movies (usually comedies) and has a game with Emilio where the other must guess the source of the quote.

Ronald Guttman as Johannes Voelker- Voelker is the secretary for the Father General and sees the world in black and white. He has a poor opinion of Emilio and is constantly at odds with Candotti, who defends Sandoz at every turn. Voelker is Austrian and should have an accent from that region. I've pictured him as bookish and somewhat out of touch with the ways of the world. ßPin It


Anonymous said...

Spot on! Just read this novel and loved it. I would love a movie version but at the same time I don'e want this beautiful writing to be tarnished.

Anonymous said...

I too was moved by the book. I was troubled, shocked, and saddened. One is lulled into a sense of steady progress and complacency, un til the entire structure is smashed as by an angry child in the last pages. I wonder if this story CAN be told without compromise? I think it should, but I don't know if it can.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and thoughtful casting (for both The Sparrow and its sequel)! I've read each of the books shortly after their debuts and have awaited a film version since then. Like the previous two commenters I have wondered if the story can really be done justice by Hollywood.
Do you have any thoughts about which actors you'd like to see portraying (and/or voicing) the VaRakhati characters? Tim Roth comes to mind as making a good Jana'ata -specifically, as the complex Supaari.

Anonymous said...

This is great, I would cast whoever buys the rights as whoever they want, a silver vixen as Anne, a hot babe as Sofia, a red lamper as Jimmy and probably Billy Crystal as Supaari, get it? Also Max Von Sydow as some priest and a guy with a goatee as Emilio. The aliens would be Avatars. Alan Pace would be some English actor from a soap opera. Prometheus really blows by the way.

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