Sunday, November 7, 2010

L5 - Tonal Influences

As we excitedly approach production, I'd like to take a second to talk about that ever mysterious element of any film:

Tone.

It is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult aspects of a series to pin down successfully. So often miscast with a plot or character, tone can either be a story’s greatest asset or hindrance.

That is why it was essential that when Stanley and I set out to make L5 a reality one of the most important discussions we had regarding overall series was its tone. These discussions also gave us a chance to revisit some of our favorite films and stories both in and out of the sci-fi genre in search of what felt right for our story.

Here are a few we explored:

2001: A Space Odyssey

The quintessential science fiction film, a masterpiece on every level, it mostly garners praise for its stunning eminence, timeless themes, and breathtaking visuals. Yet, at its core, what Kubrick captured (among many things) was the utter isolation and paranoia of the unknown, the celestial, and of experiences beyond our mortal comprehension: Moments never fully spoken or shown, but felt. It is those elements of mystique and wonder that has audiences rediscover the film every generation and those elements which we hope to emulate.

Lawrence of Arabia

Replace space with the desert and a spacesuit with a thawb and you have one of my favorite films and major influences for the story. What another iconic director, David Lean, captured in the desert was a sense of space and being lost and then consumed by it. Of all the major battles Lawrence fights in the desert the most brutal is with himself and his own legend, and it’s a battle of which were never sure of the outcome. The film runs the gamut when it comes to Lawrence’s struggles: Overcoming impossible odds while maintaining any sort of sanity, being surrounded by admirers yet feeling totally alone, Feeling trapped by the vastness of the desert. The film is more than just an exemplary epic, it is one of the grandest character studies in movie history.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

When we think of A.I.(or Artificial Intelligence) – that is if we think of it at all – we usually recall blinking lights and slow, emotionless droning voices wither eerily calm or near demonic.

No doubt there has been a trend of typecasting in this regard. The A.I. of the movies have become the equivalent of the fat best friend or jock villain, Jarvis in Iron Man or the Terminator in its namesake.

Yet, in Steven Spielberg’s (at times uneven) masterpiece, A.I., we get a glimpse of the world through a robot’s eyes. The story follows perpetually young and innocent David as he tries to understand the human world and attempt to become a real boy himself, the film was the first time I saw (other than moments in Blade Runner) robots and machines treated as beings with thoughts and feelings. It is a compelling experience and something that forces us to turn a mirror on ourselves and view out own humanity.

This theme of the AI – human relationship was an important aspect for Stanley in regards to Clarke, our ship’s AI, and friend to the crew. We wanted more than just a drone voice parroting back orders, we wanted a fellow crew member and an individual aboard who has a unique form of love and compassion for his human crewmates.

These are but a sample of many, many great films that we’ve looked to and I hope that L5 will do them proud.

Thanks,
Tom

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