Guernsey

Victor Hugo novel Toilers of the Sea to be made into film

Victor Hugo pictured in his writing room, and on the balcony of Hauteville House Image copyright Roger Viollet/Arsène Garnier/Maisons de VictorHugo
Image caption Victor Hugo in his writing room, and on the balcony of his Guernsey home in 1868

A Victor Hugo novel is set to be made into a new movie filmed on the Channel Islands.

The French author and poet wrote Toilers of the Sea during his 15-year exile on Guernsey.

Ballykissangel producer David Shanks plans to tell the love story of a reclusive fisherman on the big screen.

Subject to funding, filming of the the dialogue-free adaptation will take place in Guernsey and the UK in 2020, with an Autumn 2021 release.

Hugo was exiled in Guernsey between 1855 and 1870 for opposing Napoleon III.

During that time he also wrote celebrated works such as The Man Who Laughs, and Les Miserables - recently adapted into a BBC series.

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Image copyright Guernsey Museums & Galleries
Image caption A 1936 adaptation of Toilers of the Sea filmed in Sark was one of many movie adaptations

Producer David Shanks said he had been trying to make the adaptation for 30 years, and had now secured a composer, designer and editor. However, the project is still to be fully-funded.

"I want to make a celebration of Victor Hugo," he said.

"The feel of the piece is very much the coastline and the seas of Guernsey. That cannot be replicated and therefore we will be shooting as much as possible in the island."

Twelve weeks of filming is planned, with up to six in Guernsey and six at UK studios.

Mr Shanks, who was brought up in Guernsey, has worked as an independent television and movie producer for more than 35 years.

Image copyright Visit Guernsey
Image caption Hauteville House in Guernsey, where Victor Hugo wrote a number of books including Les Miserables

He plans to produce the movie without dialogue, as scripts detracted from the "feeling" of the book, he said.

"I think that Victor Hugo paints beautiful pictures with words.

"I've had several scripts and invested a fair amount of money over the last 30 years trying to get scripts written - somehow they've never quite matched the integrity of the book," he said.

Toilers of the Sea captured Victorian readers' imaginations, and features a fight between a fisherman and a giant octopus that drank the blood of its "victims".

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