We don’t deserve Armando Iannucci. The Death of Stalin director is one of the premier satirists and comedy writers of the modern era, having created, written, and/or directed material like The Day Today and its Alan Partridge spinoffs; The Thick of It, its American cousin Veep, and the Oscar-nominated feature that spiritually bridges the two, In the Loop; and the underseen Time Trumpet. My man is a veritable comedy genius, observant of human foibles and daring in his experiments with comic form, and we’d be less well off without him.
Which is why it’s always great news when a new Iannucci project gets announced. His next feature, seeking buyers at the European Film Market this month, is entitled The Personal History of David Copperfield, based on the book by Charles Dickens. It’s a modern version of the story, according to Variety, co-written by Iannucci and his The Thick of It co-writer Simon Blackwell. FilmNation is backing the project, currently being cast and aiming to shoot in June.
Iannucci adapting Dickens feels like as perfect a match of filmmaker to source material as any. Like The Death of Stalin, it seems a little left-field at first, but when you start looking at the overlap between the two, it starts to make sense. Both are (or were, in Dickens’ case) writers at the top of their wordplay game. Both are satirists interested in the sociopolitical issues of their respective eras. And both are fond of creating miserable, pathetic, hilarious characters obsessed with money and power. I for one cannot wait to see Iannucci’s modern-day take on Uriah Heep or Wilkins Micawber. Imagine it!
With The Personal History of David Copperfield likely to start shooting this year, it’s entirely possible we’ll see the film in 2019. Hopefully it’ll come to Fantastic Fest; Iannucci’s spirited Q&A at last year’s secret screening of The Death of Stalin was surely one of the festival’s funniest and most illuminating.
In the meantime, read the book - or check out the BBC’s terrific miniseries from 1999, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Maggie Smith, Bob Hoskins, Imelda Staunton, and Ian McKellen (!).
(Note: Header image by Chatham House, used with permission via Wikimedia Commons)