The new film by Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom stars Ewan McGregor as a British fisheries expert who signs on to an unusual project in a Middle East desert. Here's a look at Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.
Dr. Alfred Jones knows pretty much all there is to know about salmon. So when a wealthy sheikh asks him to create fishing streams in the desert, he is, to put it mildly, skeptical.
SHEIKH "You think I am mad."
JONES "No, your excellency …"
SHEIKH "Of course you do. I would question your judgment if you did not. I have a dream that one day when war is in the air, someone will say 'gentlemen, let us arise and go fishing.'"
As he learns to share the sheikh's passion for the project, Jones has to deal with politicians trying to take credit for his work. And he also falls in love.
Salmon Fishing in The Yemen is based on a novel by Paul Torday and is adapted for the screen by Simon Beaufoy, whose scripts include the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy attends the US premiere of CBS Films' SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN at the DGA in Los Angeles.(Photo - A. Berliner CBS Films)
"None of us are going to lose our long-lost loves in the slums of Bombay or try to set up a salmon fishing run in the Middle East. But we are all battling against people telling us 'that is not possible. You can't do that.' We say 'I know, but I'm going to try anyway,' " Beaufoy says.
JONES "I can't help imagining that this crazy enterprise might just come off."
SHEIKH "Faith, Dr. Alfred?"
JONES "Yes, all right then, faith."
Ewan McGregor stars as Alfred Jones.
Ewan McGregor (as'Dr.Alfred Jones') starsin CBS Films' SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN. (Photo - A. Berliner CBS Films)
"The whole film, from my character's perspective, is about the idea of not being able to believe," explains McGregor, "and being locked up so you can only see the world through this little myopic lens of your fish science and your unhappy marriage. Through working with the Sheikh and meeting Harriet, Alfred becomes somebody who is able to believe."
HARRIET "Dear Dr. Jones, I act on behalf of a client who has indicated a desire to introduce the sport of salmon fishing into the Yemen."
JONES "This is plainly ridiculous. There's just no way that salmon can survive in those sort of environments."
Emily Blunt plays Harriet, the Sheikh's representative, who becomes swept up in the project.
Emily Blunt (as'Harriet Chetwode-‐Talbot) and Ewan McGregor (as 'Dr. Alfred Jones') star in CBS Films' SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN. (Photo - A. Berliner CBS Films)
"The title in itself is a very fresh idea. I think that's something you look for because you read so many scripts, all of the same ilk," notes Blunt. "It is really refreshing to read one that has that kind of beautifully, note-perfect story."
Director Lasse Hallstrom says the tone of the story as well as its broad range drew him to the project.
"It's life, love and passion, faith and what really moves us forward and propels us to cope with life and go upstream and all of those things," Hallstrom says. "But it is also quite bizarre, fun and serious. It has a range that is absolutely wonderful."
The cast also features Kristin Scott-Thomas as a government press secretary trying to use the project for political gain. The desert scenes were shot in Morocco which doubles for Yemen.