Roman Polanski's next movie is set 2,000 years ago, but it will still have plenty to say about the modern world, the French-Polish director is promising.
The Oscar winner is currently working on the screenplay for the film adaptation of Pompeii, British writer Robert Harris' novel about the ancient Roman city buried by the 79 AD Mount Vesuvius eruption.
He says that what drew him to the project are the analogies he saw between the ancient and modern worlds.
"Every time I reflect on how advanced the Romans were, both scientifically and culturally, and on how they would never have thought of the 15 centuries of darkness that would follow them, I think of us a little," he said recently at an Italian film festival for children.
"The energy of that age is comparable with that of today - then it was powered by slavery, today we use oil. "After that the world lived in darkness for so long and this makes me think that a similarly terrible period will follow us. "Just like then, there is so much barbarism today, I'm thinking of the fanaticism and terrorism we see".
Polanski plans to shoot parts of the movie, which has a reported budget of $150 million and is expected to come out next year, in Campania, the southern Italian region that is home to Pompeii.
But he has stressed that he will not use the Pompeii archaeological site or Mount Vesuvius, two of Italy's top tourist attractions, during filming: "I'm not interested in the ruins or in Vesuvius because they were different from how we see them now. "Pompeii will be recreated on a set and there will be lots of special effects".
He said the film will be a "thriller with a love story in the background".
The focus of the story is Marcus Attilius, a fictional engineer in charge of Pompeii's Aqua Augusta aqueduct who realizes before anyone else that the volcano is about to blow.
Polanski,74, said he will devote less space than Harris did to the character of Pliny the Elder, the Roman commander and natural philosopher who died trying to evacuate people from the eruption.
Polanski was born in France in 1933 but grew up in Poland.
The director's films include Rosemary's Baby, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Chinatown, Tess, Frantic, Bitter Moon and The Pianist, for which he won an Academy Award in 2002 along with its star, Adrien Brody.
Polanski escaped from Poland during the Second World War but his parents were sent to a Nazi concentration camp and his mother died in the gas chambers.
The director's experiences were evoked in The Pianist, which recounts the true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish virtuoso pianist who miraculously survived the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust but was the only member of his family to escape deportation.
The film also won the coveted Palme d'Or at Cannes, Britian's BAFTA award and the Donatello David for best foreign film, Italy's equivalent of an Oscar.