Dalton Trumbo was a hero. One of the Hollywood Ten, he refused to testify in front of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in 1947 when HUAC was trying to ferret out commies in Hollywood. For his bravery Trumbo did time in prison; upon being released he found himself on the Hollywood blacklist, a screenwriter suddenly unable to get a job screenwriting. Officially, anyway - Trumbo worked secretly on many classic films during his blacklisted years, including two Oscar winning screenplays: Roman Holiday and The Brave One. By 1960 the blacklist had weakened enough that Trumbo could resume writing under his own name, and that year saw the release of his films Exodus and Spartacus.
He got the gig on Spartacus because of buddy Kirk Douglas; in 1965 Trumbo was writing another script for Douglas to star in, Montezuma. It was a 205-page epic about the clash between the Aztec emperor and the Spanish explorer. Cortez came to Mexico and was pretty much a huge horrible asshole, becoming mutinous, massacring people, burning cities and raping. He was the kind of guy who, once he got to Mexico sank his own ships so nobody could retreat. He made his way to the Aztec capitol where Montezuma allowed him peacefully to visit and even gave him gold gifts; rather than calm the despicable Spaniard, this just made Cortez want more, and he laid siege to the city. Along the way Montezuma was killed by his own people and Cortez knocked up his daughter.
Trumbo's script has been sitting around for fifty years and recently came to the attention of Javier Bardem, who took a shine to it. Steve Zaillian is rewriting Trumbo's script, which may be renamed Cortez to reflect the POV of the movie. Steven Spielberg has become interested in directing; the rights to the film rest at Dreamworks, so he gets first pick. Prima nocta! Of course Spielberg is the king of nudging up against projects and never seeing them through, so Cortez could be another in that list of almost-wases.
Here's hoping that Spielberg does take it. This is the sort of film that, in the wrong hands, would be just a mess of CGI landscapes and armies and lacking in humanity and texture. I like the idea of the story told through the idea of mad Cortez, but it takes a great talent to pull that sort of thing off, especially in these oh-so-sensitive times.