Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Devil in the White City movie in the works!

Leonardo DiCaprio and partners have acquired the screen rights to one of my favorite books, Erik Larson's Devil in the White City. DiCaprio will play serial killer H.H. Holmes, who murdered between 27 and 200 people during the time of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

I am interested in seeing a film adaptation, but have a hard time believing I could like it as much as I like the book. The book is such an intriguing blend of true crime and architectural history. Larson juxtaposes (mostly in alternating chapters) the construction of the World's Fair, a magical success despite many obstacles, with Holmes' sinister construction of the World's Fair Hotel, complete with a gas chamber and crematorium, to which he lured victims. I wonder if World's Fair architect Daniel Burnham, as integral to the book as the notorious serial killer Holmes, will feature as much in the film.

DiCaprio is a good actor, though he looks nothing like the real Holmes, and are audiences interested in seeing him play such a despicable character? If you have read the book, what do you think about it being turned into a movie and about DiCaprio's role in it?


  1. DiCaprio is a good actor although I am not sure he suits this role. I haven't read Devil in the White City, but it sounds intense from what you have described. Like you mentioned, it seems it is the incorporation of architect Daniel Burnham who added to the book's unique blend. I worry that if he is not as prominent in the movie that a mainstream actor like DiCaprio will take away from the story's atmosphere. Since his debut to fame in Titanic, I've always pictured DiCaprio in romantic stories. This is tragic but is sinister, not romantic. Heath Ledger probably could have played this well.

  2. Leonardo DeCaprio? REALLY? I must admit I'm a bit incredulous. Sometimes I think that actors who deliberately play against type like this take too great a risk (or, to put it another way, give way to their own arrogance). Too harsh?

    I, too, was impressed by the book and would love to see the historical setting realized, but will wait to read some reviews (yours, perhaps?) before chancing the movie myself.

  3. DiCaprio's business partner, Jennifer Killoran, says, "I think that a guy who is that intelligent and that charismatic is nothing less than complex, and it's that complexity that [DiCaprio] is drawn to." But it doesn't necessarily follow that he's well suited to the role. . .