Deryni Filming

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 25, 2008 — Leave a comment

Hollywood Reporter brings us the news that Columbia Pictures has made a six-figure deal to bring the novel “Deryni Rising” to the screen, with hopes that it could become a successful fantasy movie franchise.

Deryni Rising cover art.

“Columbia Pictures is bringing Katherine Kurtz’s “Deryni Rising” to the big screen. In a six-figure deal, the studio has picked up “Deryni” as a spec by Alex Sabeti. Jimmy Miller is producing via his Mosaic banner. “Deryni” is a historical fantasy novel first published in 1970 that launched Kurtz’s “Deryni Kingdom” series that, almost 40 years later, encompasses five trilogies, short stories and reference books. The story is set in a medieval kingdom of humans alongside the Deryni, a race of people with psychic and magical abilities. The first novel centers on a young prince who, after the death of his father the king, must defend his throne from a Deryni usurper.”

The Deryni novels are written by Katherine Kurtz, an esoteric Christian (founder of the Michaelines) who is remarkably Pagan-friendly. Back in the early 80s she wrote “Lammas Night”, a classic in the “Pagans save the world”* genre that artfully melds several Wiccan (and esoteric) myths concerning WWII (and adds in a healthy dollop of Margaret Murray’s “divine king” theory). So needless to say, many Pagans will be eagerly anticipating (or, given Hollywood’s track record, dreading) this film.

It should be interesting to see how they portray magic (especially ritual magic), the kingdom of Gwynedd (loosely modeled after Britain), and the Holy Church of Gwynedd (loosely modeled after the Roman Catholic Church). Will Catholic groups complain about the blending of esoteric practices into what is obviously their church? Will the religious elements get downplayed or watered down (as in the film version of The Golden Compass)? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

* My favorite “Pagans save the world” novel is Stewart Farrar’s “Omega” (which you can buy used for a PENNY at Amazon).

Jason Pitzl-Waters