The Celestine Prophecy: The Making of the Movie
James Redfield, Monty Joynes
From Novel to Movie
It is difficult now to comprehend the impact of The Celestine Prophecy when it appeared in the Warner Books hardback edition in March of 1994. The relatively short novel had originally been self-published in trade paperback in 1993; and James and Salle Redfield had taken the book personally to independent and alternative bookstores, primarily in the South, and literally given away half of the 3,000 copies in the first printing to anyone who would read it. Within months, the word of mouth on the book prompted re-order after re-order; and before Warner secured the publishing rights, the Redfields had sold more than 100,000 copies.
In 1995 and 1996, The Celestine Prophecy was the best-selling American book in the world. It stayed on the New York Times bestsellers list for over three years, was translated into more than 40 languages, and ultimately influenced the world with some 12 million copies in print. A 2000 New York Times Reader's Poll named The Celestine Prophecy as the #1 all-time bestseller in religion, spirituality, and philosophy.
From Toronto to Melbourne, New York to London, Cape Town to Jakarta, San Diego to Rio de Janeiro, and Chicago to Rome, there are more than one hundred cities worldwide where organized groups still gather to discuss the relevance of The Celestine Prophecy to their lives.
Since the worldwide phenomenon of The Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield has continued his authorship of visionary literature in some ten additional books and ten audiotapes. His wife and partner, Salle Merrill Redfield, has further contributed to their work with meditation books and tapes. The Tenth Insight, the second novel in the Celestine series, went to #2 on the New York Times bestseller list in 1996, and the third novel, The Secret of Shambhala: In Search of the Eleventh Insight, was published in November 1999. There are now more than 20 million James Redfield books in print in more than 50 foreign languages.
With all this unparalleled success of a single novel, it was certain that Hollywood producers would want the rights to turn The Celestine Prophecy into what--an action-adventure movie. Offers were made--multi-million-dollar offers that only required James Redfield to sign a contract--but his intuition led him not to accept them. He expressed his intention on his website: "We want this film to come into being in accordance with the vision of the new spiritual consciousness that the story seeks to describe."
In his development of The Celestine Prophecy movie, James reaffirmed his trust in synchronicity. From the process of writing a screenplay to his choices for co-producers, from location searches to casting, from filming to distribution, James Redfield remained faithful to the Celestine Insights. For everyone involved in the making of the movie, the Seventh Insight provided a template for behavior: "Discover that intuitive thoughts are there to guide us and once followed, increase the synchronicity that leads us toward the actualization of our contribution."
Any film is a collaborative effort, but the making of a movie that matters requires a conscious focus of intention from everyone involved. Acting and directing, for example, are a search for authentic moments captured on film. These moments transcend the distance between creation and experiencing, and they thus abolish the space and time between the images on the screen and the felt emotions of the audience. A good film does more than transport, however; it involves. To what degree it involves is a measure of its significance and its power to persist in time from generation to generation by remaining relevant and meaningful.
But before the collaboration that arises in the making of a movie, there is the vision of the writer. In the case of The Celestine Prophecy: The Movie, the vision of James Redfield was not compromised. His commitment to making spiritual truths accessible was evident throughout the cinematic journey, and what he once imagined can now be experienced on the big screen.
The Author's Vision: James Redfield
The making of The Celestine Prophecy movie has been a long and interesting adventure, beginning years before the screenplay was written, or the actors signed, and even--believe it or not--before the book itself was conceived. In fact, if the truth be known, the book first dawned on me visually, as a series of images, dramatic scenes, that all arrived in my head feeling like movie moments.
Later, written up journal style, the book then came alive in a way, first for me, and then for many others. And while I could say it was based on my personal experience, I have never claimed much credit for what it became. The book was an adventure that I partly lived but mostly just received, and it somehow struck universal chords of the soul, first for me, and then apparently for almost anyone else, at any time, who wonders about the purpose of life at a deeper ontological level.
Turning it into a movie posed a certain dilemma, however. Images were one thing, but that many images, well, were unmanageable. Hollywood was adamant. Adaptation of this book couldn't be done. There were too many ideas, too many connections that existed at ever deeper levels of the subtext, too many long, winding dialogues that roamed here and there, only making sense in the last moments as the many drawstrings were pulled together. No way to get it clearly expressed in two hours, or even three. Perhaps a 16-hour miniseries, they said.
But as it turned out, even that genre seemed wrong, for other reasons. And so for years we hung in that particular no-man's-land between being sure we should do this film and yet having no idea how. Until at last, a certain realization set in. We had to face the fact that the film had to be a different kind of parable from the book, with a complicated but more global meaning, a kind of snapshot of the Celestine worldview that became ever more impactful with each subsequent viewing?but all laced within a story line that had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and moved along at a rate that moviegoers expect.
So that's what we decided to do, or I should say, that's what we finally allowed to happen. In fits and starts, the synchronicity began to pour through, and in the end, everyone we needed showed up at just the right time: the investors, the crew, the cast, even the groups involved in the early tests of the movie.
All that's left now is for the real test to happen as this movie is released into the world. I would only ask that you remember one thing. The real impact is one you'll sense more fully without thinking. It will be something you feel--not so much with your emotions, but with your body, your soul--as a distantly familiar world begins to emerge. We can only hope that those same images--call them archetypes, clicks into a higher awareness--will do their thing again. And perhaps we'll now actually embrace a reality that before we could only intuit--a reality that's always been right here in front of our eyes, a glance away, in the sky, in the trees, in the light reflecting on a human face . . . just waiting until we had the eyes to see. . . .
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