THE EMPEROR'S CLUB
About The Production
Director Michael Hoffman,
Fine Day, Restoration, Soapdish) describes the story
of The Emperor's Club as being about "a principled teacher who gets
in over his head, venturing into a situation more labyrinthian and complex than
his vision of the world had prepared him for." One might conclude that
Hoffman was inextricably drawn to The Emperor's Club because of his
background as a Rhodes scholar, having attended Oxford University where he was a
devoted student of the Classics. But it was
the unusual nature of the piece that really attracted him from the start.
For Hoffman, the prospect of making a film that "has the
audacity to turn the genre on its ear was irresistible. He explains, "Most
movies set in school have the student or the teacher saving each other. This
challenges that convention. And that is what is so unsettling about it."
Producer Marc Abraham (The Family Man, Bring It On,
Spy Game,) agrees. "It doesn't
serve up what you expect," he says. "It revolves around a big idea an
idea of how important character is to ones destiny. What makes the movie bold is
that it has the courage of its
convictions. It doesn't paint a pretty picture or shy away from being tough and truthful. These days it's risky to
present a story that doesn't tie itself neatly in a bow at the end."
Producer Andrew Karsch (The Prince of Tides, Princess
Caraboo, The Rachel Papers) was impressed by the provocative questions
raised in Ethan Canin's short story, "The Palace Thief," which
served as the source material for the film. "This story weighs a good life
versus a successful life. It was the nature of an examined life, this man's
life, which I found so captivating." Karsch recalls.
Hoffman concurs: "Every one of us, at some point,
is confronted with the question of what it means to live an ethical life. It's not always completely clear.
He continues: "One of the things that drew me to this
story is that my own success in life was shaped largely by teachers. While my
parents made a point of my having a good education, it was my teachers who had a
profound effect on my thinking and therefore, eventually the opportunities that
would come my way. I think I was less aware of what impact my behavior, good, bad or otherwise
might have had on them. Looking back, my teachers have done every bit as much to
form me as my parents did and I saw this as an opportunity to honor them.
Abraham was similarly taken with Canin's work. "Much
of Ethan's story cuts deep into shared experiences, says Abraham. "The
vital role certain teachers have played in our lives, a father's influence on
his son, questioning our own consequence in the scheme of things, the challenges
of raising children to do the right thing when they see others taking short
continues, "It was first and foremost about ethics, choices that are made in good faith, as well as
recklessly, which then color the rest of your life. God knows we've all had to
make tough decisions that could have gone either way. It is these choices that
separate us from others, that distinguish and shape us. We are the sum of our
choices and actions. Not your usual big studio film concept.
According to Canin: "I was just trying to tell
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