Though Robert Redford’s roles have been many and varied through the years, it’s hard not to picture him as first as the outdoorsman, the frontiersman, the mountain man. From Jeremiah Johnson to Out of Africa to Butch Cassidy and even to his recent turn as a lone sailor in All Is Lost, Redford has always seemed most at home on the fringes of civilization. Perhaps it should come as no surprise then that an upcoming venture into Word War II should focus on the American 10th Mountain Division, a unit which specifically trained for the bitterest of terrain and saw action in previously impassible sections of the Italian Alps.
As it stands right now, Redford won’t star in or direct the picture, but is producing through his Wildwood Enterprises. As reported by Variety, he and partner Bill Holderman are in talks with Kurt Johnstad (who penned the surprising, if not entirely overwhelming 300: Rise of an Empire) to adapt the story. The narrative would presumably follow the training and action of the 10th Mountain Division, which was tasked with literally scaling previously impregnable mountains to attack German fortifications. Though the unit suffered heavy casualties, their efforts are credited with helping to loose the German hold on the Italian front.
Adding to the drama of the 10th Mountain Division (the first U.S. division of its kind to see combat in WWII) were the illustrious post-military careers of several of its members, including Sierra Club founder David Brower, Nike founder Bill Bowerman, presidential candidate Robert Dole, and Vail Ski Resort co-founter Pete Seibert.
This won’t be the first time the 10th Mountain Division’s story has been committed to film. In 1996, a documentary which included interviews with many 10th Mountain Division veterans was produced by Beth and George Gage.
It’s far too early for a production timeline, especially with Redford currently engaged in Appalachian trail hike story A Walk in the Woods, but it would appear this little known WWII story has received a small push in the right direction.