Before Stephen Bannon entered the White House as Donald Trump’s chief strategist, before he even chaired the fiercely right-wing Breitbart News, the conservative political activist was a filmmaker.
He got into the movie business after landing a producer credit on Sean Penn’s 1991 film The Indian Runner (and owes a good chunk of his fortune to Seinfeld). Bannon has writer, producer, and director credits on the 2011 Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated, a 2016 film called Clinton Cash, and a movie called Battle for America, which his IMDB profile says takes a “searing look” at the conflict between constitutional conservatives and the US government, among a handful of others including a film about Ronald Reagan’s rise called In the Face of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed.
But there are plenty of other movies that never made it to production:
The Singularity: Resistance Is Futile
The Daily Beast recently uncovered an 11-page outline for a Bannon-backed documentary-style film that was never made, supposedly to feature Mel Gibson. The publication described it as a “heady, incomplete mix of science, history, religion, and politics” that “sketches out a story in which mankind’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge and scientific advancement has led to horrific, fascist atrocities and forced sterilization, drawing a direct line between those atrocities and modern bio-technology.”
The film was to be called The Singularity: Resistance Is Futile, though the alternative title was also punchy: The Harvest of the Damned. Bannon reportedly had writer, director, and producer credits on the project.
The Singularity reportedly explores the eugenics movement to advance the human race, “blood purity and the Nazis,” abortion, contraception, and cloning, in a way that condemns scientists for trying to improve upon God’s work. It also includes a cryogenically frozen Walt Disney and a two-minute segment on “blood purity.”
‘Titus’ in space
Then, there was the version of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus that Bannon never got to make.
Considered one of the bard’s most brutal works, Bannon had something of an obsession with the Shakespearean tragedy and spent at least a decade trying to bring it to the big screen, according to The Paris Review. He wanted to set it in space. The film opens:
Humanity in chaos. Alien ships sweep out of dark, sunless skies as people flee in panic.
Notice a theme? The dialogue leaves a lot to be desired, too:
We fought for you. We gave up everything for you—and you betrayed us!
He grabs Barnabus by the front of his cloak.
Do not resist. Earth is evolving and so are you: half-spirit, half-human, embrace your self and others too. Evil can exist only in the thin line that separates what should be whole.
The movie was made—set on Earth as a 1999 movie called Titus that was directed by Julie Taymor of “The Lion King” musical and starred Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange. It flopped. Julia Jones, the screenwriter who worked with Bannon on all these movies, told The Paris Review that Bannon says it would have been a hit had it been done his way.
‘Hamilton’ meets ‘Coriolanus’
Bannon also reportedly co-authored a hip-hop musical (paywall) based on the Shakespearean tragedy Coriolanus—long before Lin-Manuel Miranda penned the popular rap musical Hamilton.
Coriolanus tells the story of a Roman general who seeks political office but refuses to conform to popular rule and is banished after the people turn on him. He then seeks asylum in an enemy town, which he previously defeated in battle, and works with them to wage war against his homeland. Bannon’s adaption, also written with Jones, was reset during the 1992 Los Angeles race riots, with a Harley-riding black leader character who talks in an odd sort of street slang.
All yield to him — the press, whitey, the color aristo-cracks of his own set. Only the trash is weak, and I think he’ll view them as birds do fish and take them as his due. He served the hood, but lost it.
CLOSE ON – CORIOLANUS, riding hell-bent into the wind.
Whether from bad choice, pride, or the inability to move from war to peace, it made him feared and hated by the media.
The Islamic States of America
Bannon also imagined how radical Muslims might reign in the US in an outline for another pseudo-documentary (paywall) called the Islamic States of America. This film would also have opened in a dystopian future:
The Call to Prayer
The iconic image of the US Capitol on a pristine spring day… The dome glistening under an azure sky and brilliant sun… As the camera pulls in, we notice something strange, something not right. . . Old Glory ﬂuttering from its ﬂagpole on the capitol’s portico looks different, but we can’t put our ﬁnger on it… As we pull in we see why… Instead of the stars and stripes — the crescent and the star!!!… Simultaneously with this focus we hear in a high pitched chant “Allah Akhbar” — the Muslim call to prayer emanating from the capital itself. On the screen in bold letters:
The Islamic States of America
The three-act film is supposed to look at Islamic sharia law and the “fifth column” of radical Islamist groups inside the US, ready to overthrow the state. It would also identify the American enablers paving “the road to this unique hell on earth.”
It seems that, now in the White House, Bannon is it trying to prevent these overblown visions of a broken America from becoming reality.