Dino does ‘Decameron’

Leland to adapt Boccaccio's story with a 'modern feeling'

Dino De Laurentiis will produce a new adaptation of Giovanni Boccaccio’s ribald 14th century classic, “The Decameron.”

Screenwriter and helmer David Leland (“Mona Lisa”) is adapting Boccaccio’s story of 10 young Florentines who take refuge in the Italian countryside in 1348 as the black plague ravages the city, amusing each other with earthy stories about love and adventure.

Also producing is De Laurentiis’ wife and partner Martha. The cast, De Laurentiis said, will be comprised of young English actors, and the pic will be shot in Italy.

Its pre-Renaissance setting notwithstanding, De Laurentiis stressed that the film has a “very modern feeling.”

The characters “experience all the torment, the foolishness, and the hope of chasing their hearts’ desires,” he said. “That such a comic and life-affirming story was written amid one of history’s darkest periods and that it has endured centuries as a staple in the literary canon are testaments to how powerful its themes are.”

Boccaccio’s tales have inspired several Italian films, including Pier Paolo Pasolini’s erotic 1970 romp, “Il Decameron.” They were also adapted into the silent film “Decameron Nights,” starring Lionel Barrymore, and shot again under the same title as a 1953 vehicle for Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan.

De Laurentiis traveled to Australia last month with helmer Baz Luhrmann in an effort to secure government assistance with the shooting of “Alexander the Great,” which he hopes will be his next film. The production requires hundreds of soldiers and horses.

He is also developing “Last Legion,” a film about the Roman Empire and the Arthurian legend, “Jackdaws,” based on Ken Follett’s bestselling thriller, and “The Hannibal Variations,” a prequel to the Hannibal Lecter franchise.

Leland has worked as a screenwriter and director, helming his own screenplays of “The Land Girls” and “Wish You Were Here.”

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