Premiere Magazine (UK edition), Vol 5 no 2, February 1997, Page 25

River rises

by P.

River Phoenix's last film Dark Blood gets a one-off resurrection on stage

IT WAS THE LAST - and most resonant - of the BFI's Script Factory season : Dark Blood, the film River Phoenix (below) was making three years ago when he died of an overdose. The event drew a packed crowd and an eerie sense of expectation to the London's National Film Theatre.
The success of the reading, directed by Dark Blood's author Jim Barton, has added fuel to the writer's bid to buy back the rights from the film's insurers, and finally get the film made. "River's death was so tragic that everyone was kind of shell-shocked for a long time. We left the project alone until dust settled," said Barton. "But now... it's a very strong script and I'm hoping to get it made." What's more, next time around he wants to direct it himself.
The original production, which had completed six weeks shooting in the Utah desert with The Vanishing's George Sluizer directing, was shut down after Phoenix's death in October 1993. For the Script Factory (in which as yet unfilmed screenplays are read to the public) Jonathan Rhys-Myers took on the Phoenix character, a disturbed young man living in the desert and obsessed by Armageddon. Charles Dance and Clare Higgins read the parts, originally played by Jonathan Davis and Judy Davis, of hapless couple who fall into the boy's clutches. They were excellent. But the real presence of the evening was provided by someone else, who was there only in spirit.

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