The sweating jungle curls and slithers its way through the ruins. The plaster is almost gone. The stone is etched and pockmarked. Streaked by mold, peaks of frilly weeds, the ramparts and concourses strain from the verdant heights.
This is all that remains to speak of the passing of a fascinating dichotomy known as King Christopher of Haiti. His humble origins to his rise as an emperor of the islands has intrigued me ever since I as a kid read my mom’s old book Seven League Boots by Richard Halliburton. The great traveler visited Haiti in the 1930s and described the sliver of ruins left to recall this Napoleonic era slave empire.
Christophe boldly took control of Haiti, robed his ex slaves in the attire of a Napoleonic imperial court, and started a composite culture that picked and chose what it liked. Like Napoleon he saw his own empire collapse in his life. But for a time a slave was king. For a time a humble man aspired to greatness and knew how to carry it while he was there.
Aspiration comes from the soul. Desire from the heart. Choice from the mind. How did a black slave rise to fame, build castles and palaces, fight to keep them, struggle, expand, lead, fail?
This is to be the subject of a screenplay I am writing. I have not written one since last year when I had to rewrite an indy SCI-FI. My Hollywood contacts are gone, but let’s see if I can’t stimulate some interest in a large scale production of tropic, technicolor grandeur, French Imperial opulence, and the sweeping CGI panorama of a slave rebellion turned into a bejeweled, silken court.
As I write this work, I will give updates here as I progress. I will share pictures of Haiti and historic pictures of those characters involved. The story of Black Spartacus is long overdue in film.