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February 16, 2020 5:11 AM   Subscribe

‘Jumanji’ Producer To Develop Emerson, Lake & Palmer Song ‘Karn Evil 9’ As A Sci-Fi Movie [Deadspin] - New York Times bestselling author Daniel H. Wilson has been hired to adapt the screenplay [...] Centered on a society that has drained all its blood with a dependence on technology, the film will explore the world controlled by a pervasive and dictatorial technocracy. The annual “Karn Evil” — a macabre rite of passage — is a young person’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience unbridled freedom, before subjugating themselves to the ruling class. When people stop returning from their Karn Evil experience, fear drives a revolution to topple the status quo and the artificial intelligence discovered at its heart.

"Karn Evil 9" [YT] was the closing suite of ELP's 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery.

Relevant tidbits from the DVD liner notes by Jerry McCulley:

• former King Crimson lyricist and "Karn Evil 9" co-writer Pete Sinfield: "I had this idea of a computer theme which was not there originally. Keith wrote the rest of the music around that idea, that's my recollection. He had bits and pieces of music, and that's where I cam up with this idea of man and what he'd invented and how it ironically takes him over. Rather like [chess master] Gary Kasparov and the computer - which [unlike the protagonist of "3rd Impression"] Kasparov beat by the way!"

• ELP keyboardist Keith Emerson: "The actual title [Karn Evil 9] was probably Pete Sinfield's. I had this idea about a planet that I wanted to call 'Ganton 9.' And Pete said you can't call it that, 'cause there's a Ganton Street in Soho, just down the road! Pete listened to the music I'd written and said it sounds like a carnival - it's all happy! So we went carnival, hmm, Karn Evil. Bang! That's it - end of story!"

• ELP vocalist & guitarist Greg Lake: "The whole premise of 'Karn Evil 9' was the influence that computers would have upon civilization. Now that sounds extremely passe; everybody's got a laptop now. But at that time no one had computers. There were lines like 'Load your program/I am yourself' that were extremely prophetic, because now of course you do have programs that are yourself, that are customized to you. But at that time computers were used almost exclusively in banks or institutions. The concept of a personal computer was barely dreamt of."

• Emerson: "It was the start of computer technology, and already we were being accused of using computer technology in our instrumentation to the point that some people actually believed that when we played onstage it wasn't us! That's why I programmed the Moog to get into a sequence a the end of 'Karn Evil 9'. When we did it live I had the moog turn around, face the audience, and blow up [courtesy of pyrotechnic charges] while we left the stage. It was like saying, "This is computer technology and it's taking over.' You've got to understand that when that was coming out Johnny Rotten was looking at it and saying, 'This is something we don't want to be part of!'"

• Lake: "The days in which Brain Salad Surgery was made were what I would term 'the healthy days' of ELP. As opposed to when everything became fragmented, compartmentalized, and ego-driven."

• ELP drummer Carl Palmer: "A lot of the good stuff on Brain Salad Surgery happened at a point when our creativity was at its very best. We've never really topped that era."

---

Loosely on the topic of contemporary takes on ELP, behold this badass Tarkus by freelance artist Jerry LoFaro

ELP previously on MetaFilter: The saga of a giant weaponized armadillo - RIP Keith Emerson - Greg Lake dead at 69 - I'll see your Janis, and raise you an ELP
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (63 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Terrific. A show that never ends.
posted by Gelatin at 5:40 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


‘Jumanji’ Producer To Develop Emerson, Lake & Palmer Song ‘Karn Evil 9’ As A Sci-Fi Movie

Infinite monkeys at infinite typewriters couldn't have made this sentence, but it's more beautiful than any Shakespeare. This is so exciting.
posted by phunniemee at 5:40 AM on February 16 [12 favorites]


So we went carnival, hmm, Karn Evil.
I did not know this. I now hate the record slightly more than I did before, which is not a thing I expected when I woke up this morning.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:30 AM on February 16


I still think the record cover to Thick As A Brick would make a great movie. Non-rabbits all over the place.
posted by Grangousier at 6:39 AM on February 16 [6 favorites]


It's my motto every time I get online.

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends...
posted by lon_star at 7:27 AM on February 16


Hated this stuff in the 70s and just went and watched the live version on YouTube complete with the most boring drum solo in history and I still hate it.
posted by octothorpe at 7:43 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


ELP was never among my favorites. But I'm glad that prog rock gets a little attention once in a while. And the grumbling here from sad old punks fills my heart with glee.
posted by SoberHighland at 8:04 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]


Speaking as someone with a higher-than-average level of tolerance bordering on actual love of 70s prog rock, I still have to ask: Who is this being made for?
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:09 AM on February 16 [20 favorites]


Maybe, just maybe, a bunch of people with a shared love of filmmaking are doing this for the sheer joy and desire to make a thing of Art?

I doubt it, but... maybe?
posted by SoberHighland at 8:13 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


I think I'd prefer a movie of Theusz Hamtaahk, especially if the whole script could be in Kobaïan and they could somehow get Druillet to design it. It could be a way for Luc Besson to lose the rest of the French film industry's money he didn't already lose on Valerian.
posted by Grangousier at 8:14 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


I mean, I'm here for more trippy extended music videos in the vein of Jack et la mécanique du cœur.
posted by brook horse at 8:24 AM on February 16


wake me up when they do supper's ready
posted by pyramid termite at 8:31 AM on February 16 [12 favorites]


Hated this stuff in the 70s and just went and watched the live version on YouTube yt complete with the most boring drum solo in history and I still hate it.

as a long standing appreciator of prog, I nevertheless find this hilarious. Mainly because I never quite saw the point in ELP. They had moments, for sure. But in general, it always felt to me that they were one virtuous guitar player short of achieving the full potential of their sound.

As for Karn Evil 9, I'm still not sure if I've ever gotten all the way through without my mind wandering so far I may as well have been listening to the washing machine in the next room. Or whatever. And that pretty much goes for the entire concert, the time I saw them live (1977) ... except for occasional explosions and whatnot, and Greg Lake's acoustic breaks, which were nice. That said, the Welcome Back My Friends part of Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression Part 2) has always been fine with me. But as this international collaboration illustrates, it does include some serious electric guitar.

So whatever. This sounds like as lunatic an idea for a big deal movie as any. And as I heard it said elsewhere, it can't be worse than Cats.
posted by philip-random at 8:34 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


and speaking of movies, Aloha, Bobby and Rose ...
posted by philip-random at 9:01 AM on February 16


So, yet another young adult dystopia, then?
posted by acb at 9:02 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


My kneejerk reaction to this news was, "Well, at least they've got the soundtrack sorted." I don't have either a great nostalgia nor a great dislike of prog rock--my first real concert was Rush--and I certainly listened to enough of it as a teen to get the individual references in National Lampoon's "Art Rock Suite". (Yes, that's Christopher Guest sounding very Nigel Tufnel-y in the intro; The Dog's Breakfast is basically the proto-Spinal Tap.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:23 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Look, I like prog rock, but ... every month I see another article full of exciting genre books that are being released that month by amazing new authors with amazing new voices, and what are these dudes doing with their infinite creative power and money? This.

It's not as if I resent the fact that movies like Cats and ABBA jukebox musicals get made. People like those IPs; they pay money to see them; Hollywood is in the money business, and there you are. But here are these guys who are on a hot streak, who could take a chance on anything, and the dustiest LP from Dad's basement is more interesting to them than a fresh idea.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:31 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


Even if it's terrible, go out and support it. Otherwise we'll never have our Prog Cinematic Universe (2112, Lamb Lies Down, Hand Cannot Erase, etc.)
posted by kurumi at 9:31 AM on February 16 [14 favorites]


I'm skeptical but curious. I think 'Lucky Man' makes a better distopic(?) screenplay - still. Support the troops!
posted by j_curiouser at 9:36 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


‘Jumanji’ Producer To Develop Emerson, Lake & Palmer Song ‘Karn Evil 9’ As A Sci-Fi Movie

Nah, I think it would work better as a rom-com or an Apatow bro-comedy.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:40 AM on February 16


the dustiest LP from Dad's basement is more interesting to them than a fresh idea.

There are no new ideas. In fact, I'd argue that creating a movie from a dusty old LP that few have heard of - IS - a new idea. Certainly more "new" than the vast majority of movies being made. And those fresh, new books you've read all have some big influence behind them, or are based on older ideas.
posted by SoberHighland at 10:42 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


> 'Lucky Man' makes a better distopic(?) screenplay

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE wee duh-wee duh-woowoowoo woo WHOOO woo WHOOO woo WHOOOooOOOOoooooo
posted by stevil at 11:02 AM on February 16 [17 favorites]


I guess I'm just worried that it's a mega-hit and suddenly Mr. Roboto - The Movie gets the green light.
posted by philip-random at 11:02 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


... but I guess it's already too late for that.
posted by philip-random at 11:06 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Woe that I have but one Favorite to give you Countess Elena.

But here are these guys who are on a hot streak, who could take a chance on anything, and the dustiest LP from Dad's basement is more interesting to them than a fresh idea.


White dudes, endlessly prioritizing their mediocre white dude forebears until the end of the universe.
posted by crush at 11:14 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Prog Cinematic Universe

Yes! Forget the Arthurian legends, I want a series of movies about the Court of the Crimson King!
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:16 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Even if it's terrible, go out and support it. Otherwise we'll never have our Prog Cinematic Universe


Tarkus: The Movie


 
posted by sammyo at 11:18 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Court of the Crimson King Part One: The Rusted Chains of Prison-Moons
posted by SoberHighland at 11:22 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


I'd argue that almost every work of genre fiction is based on one or more influence of some other work before it... otherwise it wouldn't fit in a genre category. I can't think of many movies based on prog rock, at least from the last 30 years or so. I'm just ecstatic that it's not another comic book adaptation! Besides, the lyric aren't a fleshed out story anyway, it'll have to be its own thing.

Could be cool! Not sure why the instant "LOLwhitedudes" reaction? "LOLprogrock" is about as narrow-minded (though less bigoted) as "Disco Sux!" Give it a chance, at least.
posted by SoberHighland at 11:32 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


I hope this at least provides an opening some day for the cinematic version of "Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven" that we all really need.
posted by ardgedee at 12:34 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


I'm waiting for Topographic Oceans. David Lynch would be my preferred director.
posted by hippybear at 12:55 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


There are no new ideas
Such a lazy take. I'm all for pointing out the ahistorical character of much recent art, but by this logic, there hasn't been a new idea since the first one.
posted by marcpski at 1:09 PM on February 16


Such a lazy take.

Perhaps you're right. Taking a 47 year old piece of music that never enjoyed much widespread popularity, complete with cryptic lyrics, from a mostly forgotten band, and reinterpreting it as a futuristic big budget film IS INDEED a fresh, new idea! I cannot think of any other project of this scope to do anything like this at all.

So wonderful to have fresh, new ideas in film!
posted by SoberHighland at 2:12 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


> Taking a 47 year old piece of music that never enjoyed much widespread popularity, complete with cryptic lyrics, from a mostly forgotten band, and reinterpreting it as a futuristic big budget film IS INDEED a fresh, new idea! I cannot think of any other project of this scope to do anything like this at all.

Please with all due haste inform us of the numerous other major motion pictures based on 1970s prog rock concept albums.
posted by ardgedee at 2:17 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


It really IS a fresh idea. I was challenging a comment about how this was just about mediocre white dudes.
posted by SoberHighland at 2:24 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


I mean, the problem with doing Lamb Lies Down... is most of it is the narrator describing what he's seeing and experiencing. It's not much inner drama really. It's a great thing to listen to, though.
posted by hippybear at 2:28 PM on February 16


I mean, to me this movie sounds like one of those things that's only a good idea when you're a college freshman doing pot for the first time. But we already have major motion pictures based on Sonic The Hedgehog, the boardgame Battleship, and the fucking Transformers children's cartoon, so "stupid" is not the barrier to entry.

Hollywood's got a known aversion to producing 2 hours of entertainment out of ideas that can't be summarized in ten words or less. If this guy can pitch a movie that requires listening to half an hour of instrumental breaks with bizarre key changes to understand, he'll achieve something that noone in Hollywood has ever done before.
posted by ardgedee at 2:29 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Well, Tommy is a movie, and is also a broadway musical. I don't know if Jesus Christ Superstar is really prog, but it's definitely a concept album that became a movie eventually. There are other examples of music albums being turned into films. Many of them aren't actually good (Sgt Pepper film) but they do exist quite a bit more than upon first examining the idea.
posted by hippybear at 2:33 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Meh. I'm willing to bet folded-money no one will be "required" to listen to the music to understand it. "Inspired by" the music and lyrics is likely the way it will go. What is it about a film that's inspired by music that is such a turn-off? I don't get it.

Boooo haters, say I! So many people here seem to still believe that the Sex Pistols actually "hated" Pink Floyd. I guess reflexive prog-rock-hate is still cool for some kids.

I think a Lamb Lies Down movie could be done. I read that Peter Gabriel was in talks about it at one point. And sure, there's been plenty of movies based on albums (The Wall is another) but not many from recent decades.
posted by SoberHighland at 2:51 PM on February 16


There was supposed to be an HBO television series based on the Year Zero album and Alternative Reality Game from Nine Inch Nails, but that seems to have been stalled for quite some time.

Barry Manilow made an entire movie out of his song Copacabana.
posted by hippybear at 2:56 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


a 47 year old piece of music that never enjoyed much widespread popularity

hmmm...

Chart (1973-1974), Peak position
Austrian Albums, 5
Canada Top Albums, 10
German Albums,18
Norwegian Albums, 5
UK Albums, 2
US Billboard, 11
posted by j_curiouser at 3:16 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Huh, I had no idea they were ever that popular! Still, it's not a widely known or often heard song or album. Certainly not a big hit on karaoke night.
posted by SoberHighland at 3:30 PM on February 16


ELP was huge back in the day. Things were different back then and FM stations would play much different music than AM hit radio. I think probably half of everyone I knew in the 80s had a copy of Brain Salad Surgery that they'd either inherited from an older sibling or had acquired on their own.
posted by hippybear at 3:34 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


I can't believe it's taken me all this time to get the pun in the name.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:27 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


ELP went on tour in the early/mid 90s and I caught them in Atlanta at Chastain Park. It was a great show, and I'm glad I got a chance to see them live.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to apply a glaze of Vaseline.
posted by jquinby at 5:04 PM on February 16


Please with all due haste inform us of the numerous other major motion pictures based on 1970s prog rock concept albums.

[...]

It really IS a fresh idea. I was challenging a comment about how this was just about mediocre white dudes.


sarcasm really is failing in this thread. Or to be more accurate -- the assumption of sarcasm.
posted by philip-random at 5:28 PM on February 16


Still, it's not a widely known or often heard song or album

part 2 of impression 1 is STILL being played by some of my local radio stations - it's pretty much a classic rock staple in light rotation

when that album came out, karn evil impression 1 part 1 - impression 3, still you turn me on all got good airplay - they were a radio staple back then

they have been neglected of late - and i think it's possible that may continue
posted by pyramid termite at 5:36 PM on February 16


If we’re going to do a three-name 70s band film universe,* i’ll probably come out for the story of a man forces to relive the memories of that time he was dancing in September. Over and over and over and over and over and . . .


*Are we counting “Xanadu?” Please say yes.
posted by thivaia at 8:19 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


The ENJ side and the ELO side
posted by hippybear at 8:33 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


The song I wanted to see made into a movie was Billy Joel's Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway). Bit late, now.
posted by bryon at 9:18 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


There's no way anyone could ever make a movie out of a 1973 prog album from a british band!

But more seriously Quadrophenia the album has aged pretty poorly and this movie is in fact being written by one of those talented modern novelists y'all are talking about. Maybe not the perfect ideal metafilter choice but someone who's definitely demonstrated that they can turn in an enjoyable modern take on "computer...bad?!" as a prompt.

"Robopocalypse (2011) is a science fiction novel by Daniel H. Wilson. A researcher in robotics, he explores the capacity of robots and portrays AI out of control. It is written in present tense.

Writer Robert Crais and Booklist have compared the novel to the works of Michael Crichton and Robert A. Heinlein. It became a bestseller on the New York Times list."


It's going to be big dumb bombastic fun with a great soundtrack.



I hope that the jokes about Green Knight leading to an Arthurian cinematic universe and the jokes here about a prog album cinematic universe both come true and in the confused scramble to cash in on both trends at once we end up with a big budget version of The Tain.
posted by fomhar at 9:24 PM on February 16


I hope that the jokes about Green Knight leading to an Arthurian cinematic universe and the jokes here about a prog album cinematic universe both come true

I kept hoping there would be a Bob Ross post credits scene to "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" would start a PBS Cinematic Universe.

I'm in the "hey, this is new" camp. Yes, they are making a movie out of an existing thing, but at least it's not the third cycle of "Spider-Man" movies.

(Like ELP, but they do get too pretentious, even by prog standards. More of a Yes guy.)
posted by MrGuilt at 9:33 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


The song I wanted to see made into a movie was Billy Joel's Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway). yt Bit late, now.

I'll never forgive Billy Joel for the way he treated Doug Stegmeyer, so I'm glad if he doesn't get paid. Miami 2017 was basically Escape from New York anyway.
posted by mikelieman at 10:03 PM on February 16


But more seriously Quadrophenia the album has aged pretty poorly

I beg to differ. It perhaps goes on too long as double albums tend to do (but Tommy's worse in that regard), and some of the lyrics may feel a little dangerous taken in isolation of their place in the narrative, but it's the Who album I tend to grab when I need that particular kick, smart and hard and as epic as they ever got.

And the movie's pretty strong, too as I recall.
posted by philip-random at 8:38 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


I rewatched the movie Quadrophenia a few years ago and it's really pretty good in that grim working-class UK drama sort of way.
posted by octothorpe at 1:30 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


KARN EVIL 9, YOU SAY? START LINING UP THE GIGER ARTWORK, YOU COWARDS.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:11 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


PROG CINEMATIC UNIVERSE (I would watch this if they hired decent screenwriters)
(Low budget CGI with funny scripts, like all those random weird Netflix productions)

1) Karn Evil 9
2) Tarkus! (thanks R)
3) The Court of The Crimson King
4) The Magician's Birthday
5) The Book of Tailesyn
6) 12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus
7) Hero & Heroine
8) The Battle of Evermore
9) Thick as a Brick
and so on...
(this just writes itself...)
posted by ovvl at 3:56 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


ovvl: PROG CINEMATIC UNIVERSE...

10) And You and I (Which must be directed by Joss Whedon)
11) Pirates
12) South Side of the Sky
13) Locomotive Breath

...culminating in the multiverse coming together at a final battle at...

THE GREAT GATES OF KIEV
posted by MrGuilt at 7:12 PM on February 17


I say they should do a movie of the second side of Chariots Of Fire, but I think they actually already did that.
posted by hippybear at 8:11 PM on February 17


‘Jumanji’ Producer To Develop Emerson, Lake & Palmer Song ‘Karn Evil 9’ As A Sci-Fi Movie [Deadspin]

And here I thought the herbs in charge wanted them to stick to sports. To be fair, they might have actually covered this.
posted by LostInUbe at 10:56 PM on February 17


While Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2 has stuck in my memory well enough from all the times it used to be played on FM radio and from having my own copy of the album, the other three "impressions" had long faded from memory. As was mentioned above, Brain Salad Surgery was an album that it seemed lots of people had, but only a couple songs of which were listened to regularly. After a revisit I can see why. The other impressions are tough to sit through now, with so much of the music a pastiche of clever borrowings or near likenesses and some added more original elements mixed with equal amounts of dreary and oppressive feeling trite use of those same borrowed ideas that feel very tired from this distance of decades later.

I still find the manner of rhymes employed by Lake to be quite enjoyable, even if the actual ideas the words convey aren't as inspiring. I get a kick out of the way they like to place multiple rhymes within a single line or group of lines and/or rely heavily on similar sounds in the vowels and consonants within each phrase. My favorite song of his songs in this vein is probably Hallowed be Thy Name, but Karn Evil 9 has its moments of that too. The story the lyrics tell is pretty tired at this point, that they're making a movie from the song may be surprising, but the story is pretty standard Hollywood fare on its face, though the song does at least have some tension in its ending, as ridiculous as it is, for not providing a clear answer to who won the war between computers and humans, or more accurately perhaps allows for an ironic, uncertain end, that would be nice to see from a Hollywood movie, but probably isn't likely to happen since it won't test well with preview audiences or some such.

I assume the deal here is that they wanted the title of the song and maybe to use some updated version of it for the movie since there's nothing much in the song that hasn't been done in movies since or couldn't be done without need to refer back to Karn Evil 9 to do now if they wanted to. I mean Pinocchio had Pleasure Island, which is where bad boys went for one big celebration before magically being turned into jackasses and shipped off to the mines to labor and adding a computer overlord to that isn't really a new twist as the evil computer master has been done many times over the last few decades with a wide variety of slightly different twists to it around economic and political stances, mostly Hollywoodized of course. But then Prog rock itself borrowed frequently from movies other media, so it was already reflecting Hollywood and like story tropes in its songs, so this would just be completing a circle of media fantasies influencing media fantasy.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:19 AM on February 18


Things were different back then and FM stations would play much different music than AM hit radio.

Indeed. WMET, which I listened to so consistently during my teen years in Chicago that the rest of the dial may as well have not existed, played the big epic concept albums and the proggiest of prog rock along with pure butt rock acts like KISS. They'd do stunts like play all of Led Zepplin's songs in alphabetical order.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:23 PM on February 18


From the archives ...

"Brain Salad Surgery is worthy of inclusion for its title alone, and its cover, an HR Giger original. And the music wasn’t so bad either, just a little (and a lot) overdone at times. So we get Tocatta (Keith Emerson‘s impression of Alberto Evaristo Ginastera‘s original). It’s fast, it’s fierce, it’s as nightmarish an assault as any chart-topping band of the early 1970s was capable of delivering. Or as Motron puts it, soundtrack for the inevitable attack of the meat eating robots. It is going to happen.” (Philip Random)
posted by philip-random at 10:27 PM on February 20


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