In 2013, Oscar-winner and the world’s best dad, Tom Hanks, teamed up with acclaimed director Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips, an absolute masterpiece of a film that earned itself six Oscar nominations. Now the two Hollywood veterans are working together once again for News of the World in which Hanks will be playing a whole different type of captain as he swaps modern cargo ships for trail wagons. Yes, the upcoming drama will see Hanks tackling the western genre for the first time in his illustrious four-decade career, and this is already looking like an awards season contender.
Universal Pictures dropped the first trailer recently, revealing News of the World is currently pegged for a Christmas Day release. Given how little movies have actually been released in this dumpster fire of a year, this is essentially the studio’s one big hurrah for 2020. And if you’re going to pin your hopes on a film, you can certainly do far worse than one of this potential calibre.
News of the World sees Hanks starring as Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Civil War veteran-turned-drifter who now ekes out a living moving “from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, sharing the news of presidents and queens, glorious feuds, devastating catastrophes, and gripping adventures from the far reaches of the globe.” On his travels though, Kidd stumbles across a young girl, the soul survivor of a brutal attack who had been taken in by the local Native American people. But the girl needs to be returned to the last remaining members of her biological family, a journey of hundreds of miles, which Kidd reluctantly agrees to not knowing that all kinds of trouble – and drama! – awaits. Check it out.
Speaking to Vanity Fair about the film, Greengrass revealed that while News of the World may be set in the Old West, it is very pertinent to modern-day America as well.
Even though it’s set then, it’s a film about our times. Neighbors and families and communities were in stark and often violent conflict with each other, and Americans needed to decide who they were as Americans.
This notion is taken even further by Hanks’ Captain Kidd providing news of the rest of the world to people who don’t always believe him.
Information was suspect. The world was filled with division, loss, economic hardship. The world was filled with rumors and false narratives. Audiences were never sure whom they could trust to tell them the truth.
News of the World also stars twelve-year-old German-born newcomer Helena Zengel as Johanna, Captain Kidd’s wild new ward. She’s most definitely no damsel in distress, and arguably doesn’t even need to be rescued from the people who have been caring for her. And that’s one of the moral quandaries presented in the screenplay, which Greengrass adapted with co-writer Luke Davies from Paulette Jiles’ 2016 novel of the same name.
That’s what I wanted the film to explore. What’s the road out of this? What’s the road to healing look like? And in this story of this man and this little girl, these two characters, both of them for very different reasons are lost. The story for them is to work out where they each belong and how that works. And that’s what I wanted this Western to do.
News of the World is scheduled for release in theatres on 25 December 2020.
Last Updated: October 9, 2020