The Descendants is a 2011 American comedy-drama film directed by Alexander Payne. The script by Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash is based on the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings.
The film stars George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard and Beau Bridges, and was released by Fox Searchlight Pictures in the United States on November 18, 2011 after being screened at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.
Tracing the journey of land baron Matt King who struggles with unexpected occurrences in his monotonous life, The Descendants was released to positive reviews from critics and won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as two Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture – Drama and Best Actor – Drama for Clooney.
The Descendants Movie Trailer
ABOUT THE DESCENDANTS PRODUCTION
The film began its on-location shoot in Hawaii on March 15, 2010. Most of the film was shot in Honolulu and around Hanalei Bay. Underwater photographer Don King filmed a crucial scene where Alex King sinks below the surface of a pool and screams out her grief underwater.
The house used as Matt King’s house had one major flaw in that it lacked the banyan tree described in the book; the filmmakers solved the issue by transplanting a banyan. For the scene where the King family drives up to a ridge to look over their beautiful land, the film used a 3,000-acre private cattle ranch on the south shore of Kauai, Kipu Ranch. Kaui Hart Hemmings, the author of the novel on which the movie was based, had a cameo as Matt King’s secretary.
Post-production began on June 14, and continued into February 2011.It screened at the Telluride, Toronto and New York film festivals and was originally scheduled to have a limited release on December 16, 2011, but was moved to November 23, 2011 and then November 18, 2011.
The soundtrack uses Hawaiian music, featuring artists including Gabby Pahinui, Ray Kane, Keola Beamer, Lena Machado, Sonny Chillingworth, Jeff Peterson, and Reverend Dennis Kamakahi.
The Descendants Script
TROUBLE IN THE TROPICS by Visual Hollywood
“My friends on the mainland think because I live in Hawaii, I live in paradise. Like a permanent vacation, we’re all just out here drinking Mai Tais shaking our hips and catching waves. Are they nuts?” — Matt King
George Clooney’s Matt King joins the characters of Alexander Payne’s previous films as a flawed individual finding his way through a world of lunacy, bittersweet emotion and surprises; he is neither a hero nor anti-hero.
Like Matthew Broderick’s envious teacher in ELECTION, Jack Nicholson’s glass-half-empty retiree in ABOUT SCHMIDT, and Paul Giamatti’s muddling, middle- aged wine country tourist in SIDEWAYS, King is not the man he would like to be. His mischievous daughters don’t trust him, his imperiled wife has been cheating on him and his broke cousins see him and the land trust he controls as a piggy bank.
George Clooney on Working on The Descendants
To add insult to injury, he’s surrounded by a lush, fertile, awe-inspiring landscape that defies his inner turmoil. Yet all of this leads Matt to a tumultuous awakening that might be awkward, comical and sometimes absurd, but nevertheless changes his concept of love, fatherhood and what it truly takes to be a man.
Alexander Payne has always been drawn to these peculiar situations in everyday life that can be experienced as comical, devastating and revealing all in the same breath. When he read Kaui Hart Hemmings’ acclaimed debut novel, The Descendants, he was immediately lured by its sharp contrasts. Here was a portrait of a man grappling with some of the worst news, most difficult people, and most impossible decisions of his life.
“The novel appealed to me because it’s an emotional story unfolding in an exotic locale,” Payne says. “It’s a story that perhaps could be told anywhere, but what made the book for me was its completely unique setting among the landed upper-classes in Hawaii. It’s very specific to this place, yet it is also universal.”
“On a filmmaking level, it was very interesting to me because I’ve never seen a filmic Honolulu. We see New York, Chicago, L.A., Miami and Seattle, but this is a region we never see in films. There’s a whole distinctive social fabric to life in Hawaii and that intrigued me. I love films with a specific sense of place. I started making movies in Omaha, then I went to Santa Barbara and now I have ended up in Hawaii.”
The Descendants – Alexander Payne & George Clooney discuss shooting style
George Clooney as Matthew “Matt” King
Shailene Woodley as Alexandra “Alex” King
Beau Bridges as Cousin Hugh
Judy Greer as Julie Speer
Nick Krause as Sid
Amara Miller as Scottie King
Matthew Lillard as Brian Speer
Robert Forster as Scott Thorson
Patricia Hastie as Elizabeth King
Mary Birdsong as Kai Mitchell
Rob Huebel as Mark Mitchell
Milt Kogan as Dr. Johnston
Laird Hamilton as Troy Cook
Michael Ontkean as Cousin Milo
Matt Corboy as Cousin Ralph
Celia Kenney as Reina