Top 3 Directors for the ‘Chronicles of Prydain’

After the catastrophic box office failure of The Black Cauldron (1985), Disney announced in early 2016 that they had reacquired the full rights to Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain for a second go. There’s been no news on the front since, and Disney is infamous for putting properties into development hell, which leaves Prydain fans bursting with questions. Are all five books slated for adaptation? Will it be live-action or animated? Who’s going to write it? Who’s going to direct it?

While Disney will remain as tight-lipped as possible, below are my top three choices for directors for the first Prydain novel – The Book of Three.

1. Guillermo Del Toro

guillermo del toro, chronicles of prydain
Directed: Hellboy (2004); Pan’s Labyrinth (2006); Pacific Rim (2013); Trollhunters (2016-)

At first glance, a director most known for his horror films and terrifying monsters might seem an odd choice for a series often described as a lighter, softer Tolkien. However, The Chronicles of Prydain requires an ability to balance quirkiness with the dark themes of the material. The books are also a grand epic in the true sense of the word, and del Toro’s movies repeatedly draw on fairytale, myth, and legend to build their worlds. (Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Trollhunters all use Celtic mythology to some degree or other, and The Chronicles of Prydain is unabashedly Welsh.)

Pan's Labyrinth, Chronicles of Prydain
The Faun in ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ (2006).

It’s easy to imagine, after all, characters like the Horned King or Gwydion Son of Don in del Toro’s signature style. In addition, del Toro’s recent project Trollhunters demonstrates that he’s ready, willing and able to take on children’s projects while still leaving a touch of darkness.

2. Brenda Chapman

Brenda Chapman, Chronicles of Prydain
Directed Prince of Egypt (1998); Brave (2012)

Brenda Chapman made history in 1998 as the first woman to direct an animated feature from a major studio (Prince of Egypt from Dreamworks). She hit the stage again in 2012 when she co-directed Brave as the first female Pixar director. Both of her movies have been gorgeous successes, rich with mythos and thematic imagery.

It’s not difficult to imagine, then, the rich Welsh world of Prydain in the hands of the woman who brought both Ancient Egypt and medieval Scotland to life. While it’s still unknown whether the Chronicles of Prydain movies will be animated or live-action, Chapman is more than capable.

Brave, Chronicles of Prydain

In addition, the women in Chapman’s movies have always been strongly characterized. Merida and Elinor are the heroes of Brave in every way possible. Even though The Prince of Egypt is about Moses, Tzipporah, Miriam, and even the untitled Pharaoh’s wife are standout characters. This means that with Chapman at the helm, the wonderful women of Prydain would get the same treatment. Most of all, this includes the fantastic, enigmatic and slightly silly Princess Eilonwy.

3. Tarsem Singh

tarsem singh, chronicles of prydain
Directed The Fall (2006); Mirror Mirror (2012); Emerald City (2017-)

Tarsem Singh’s movies are known for bright colors, dark topics and a sense of surrealism pervading every frame. In 2006’s The Fall, a stuntman tells a heroic story of a little girl with suicide as his goal in mind. In 2012’s Mirror Mirror, his Snow White saves the day as a spunky, grown-up heroine and then kills her wicked stepmother with her own poison.

The Fall, Chronicles of Prydain

This interplay of bright and dark, heroic and cowardly and mythic and realistic suits itself well to Prydain. Even adapted for a younger audience, it’s breathtaking to imagine the themes of death and undeath that pervade the books done in Singh’s style. The first book especially features the villain the Horned King, the vassal of Arawn Death-Lord – a worthy recipient of Singh’s talent.

Who would you like to see direct the Chronicles of Prydain?

Elliott Dunstan
Elliott Dunstan
Elliott Dunstan is a semi-professional Canadian nerd with a special talent for reading way too fast, spouting weird trivia, and latching emotionally onto that minor character with a one-liner in the second episode. Elliott was born in 1995 and is mildly annoyed by this.