Apt Pupil (film)
name = Apt Pupil
Jane Hamsher Don Murphy
Ian McKellen Brad Renfro David Schwimmer
cinematography = Newton Thomas Sigel
editing = John Ottman
October 8, 1998
runtime = 111 minutes
language = English
amg_id = 1:158801
imdb_id = 0118636
"Apt Pupil" is a 1998
film, directed by Bryan Singerand starring Ian McKellenand Brad Renfro. The screenplay by Brandon Boyce is adapted from a novella of the same name by Stephen King, originally published in " Different Seasons" (1982). The endings of the two works differ drastically, however.
Shortly after the appearance of
Stephen King's Different Seasonscollection, which has also spawned the Oscar-nominated The Shawshank Redemptionand Stand by Me, Richard Kobritzacquired the production rights. However his attempt to have the story filmed was delayed when his first choice to play Kurt Dussander, the nazi war criminal, James Mason, died in 1984 and his second candidate, Richard Burton, died after being approached for the role. Nicol Williamsonfinally took the part and, in 1987, with director Alan Bridgesand a teenaged Ricky Schroderas Todd, filming began. That production foundered for financial reasons, and when Kobritz secured more financing the forty minutes of usable footage shot in 1987 had to be abandoned because Schroder had aged.
The rights reverted to King in 1995, as
Bryan Singerand producer Don Murphywere aware. Singer, who had read the story at the age of 19, asked a boyhood friend, aspiring screenwriter Brandon Boyce, to come up with a script, which was sent to King along with a copy of The Usual Suspects, before the movie had been released. King then gave the go-ahead to the new team, which obtained $15 million in financing from Phoenix Pictures. [ [http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,295426,00.html King's Cursed Movie] , by Dave Karger Entertainment Weekly, issue #357, December 13, 1996, accessed 4 February, 2008] [Dretzka, Gary, "Usual Suspects - Filmmaker Bryan Singer's decision to interpret Staphen King isn't the most likely pairing", " The Chicago Tribune", October 11, 1998. Retrieved from newsbank.com subscription archive, March 24, 2008]
Although not an Oscar- or BAFTA-nominated film, Apt Pupil picked up a sprinkling of smaller awards. Brad Renfro won the Best Actor award at the
Tokyo International Film Festivalin 1998, and in 1999 Ian McKellen won three awards for his supporting performance: a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor (film)from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, a Critics' Choice Award for Best Actor from the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, and a Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor(the latter two awards were also for his role in Gods and Monsters).
The film itself received a
Saturn Awardfrom the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Filmsfor Best Horror Film in 1998.
A clean-cut, all-American high school student named Todd Bowden (Renfro) discovers that his elderly neighbor, Arthur Denker, is in reality a fugitive Nazi war criminal named Kurt Dussander (McKellen). After threatening to turn him in, Bowden reveals that he is fascinated with the activities of the Nazis in WWII, and blackmails Dussander into entertaining him with gory tales of the death camps. He even orders a detailed replica uniform which he forces Dussander to wear. As he spends more time with the old man, the boy's grades suffer, he loses interest in his girlfriend, and he conceals his bad grades from his parents. In turn, the Nazi blackmails the young boy into studying to restore his grades, with threats to expose the boy's subterfuge and his dalliance with Nazism to his parents. Dussander even pretends to be Todd's grandfather in order to get him special permission to raise his grades. Talking about the war crimes affects both the old man and the young man, and both seem to gain satisfaction from attempts to kill animals in Dussander's oven. Dussander even appears to take great pride in Todd's unbelievable turnaround, going from near dropout to straight A's in a matter of weeks.
One night, Dussander tries to kill a hobo who has seen him in the uniform and tried to blackmail him, but he has a heart attack and calls Todd, who finishes the job, cleans up, and calls an ambulance for Dussander. At the hospital, Dussander is recognized by a death camp survivor sharing his room, and is arrested, pending extradition to Israel. Todd graduates valedictorian and gives a speech on the theme of Icarus, with the thesis that "All great achievements arose from dissatisfaction. It is the desire to do better, to dig deeper, that propels civilization to greatness." In a montage, this is juxtaposed with Dussander's home being searched and the hobo's corpse being found in the basement.
Todd is briefly questioned about his relationship with Dussander, but manages to convince the police that he knew nothing of the old man's true identity. At the hospital, Dussander, hears a group of Neo-Nazis outside the hospital, and, realizing his identity has been hopelessly compromised, commits suicide by giving himself an air embolism.
Todd then proceeds to blackmail his school counselor, French (
David Schwimmer), who met Dussander and later learned he was not his grandfather, threatening to accuse him of making inappropriate sexual advances towards him.
List of Holocaust films
*imdb title|id=0118636|title=Apt Pupil
*metacritic film|id=aptpupil|title=Apt Pupil
*mojo title|id=aptpupil|title=Apt Pupil
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