Here’s some intriguing news: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company has purchased the film rights to Devil in the White City (2003), author Erik Larson’s best-selling non-fiction book about civic magnificence and shocking murder at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.
This project holds great promise. Larson’s work features twin storytelling paths, one of which follows the fair-building escapades of big-dreaming Chicago designer Daniel H. Burnham, the other of which tells about a prolific serial killer working his malevolence on the edge on that exposition. As I wrote in a review for Seattle Weekly, Larson “employs fictive techniques, complex character studies, and cliff-hanger devices to turn what might have been a parched account of architectural ambition and convergent malevolence into a historical thrill ride.”
The question is, of course, whether the bigger-than-life character of Burnham, the predatory deviance of slayer H.H. Holmes (who DiCaprio intends to portray), and the naïve optimism represented by one of America’s foremost world’s fairs can be sufficiently translated into a two-hour motion picture. We shall see.