Oblivion compared to ‘The Omega Man’ & ‘Silent Running’ by Director Joseph Kosinski

Now hold on! Before you say another word about how I keep talking about this film, I’m bringing it full circle here then I’ll find something else to chat about for a bit…maybe.

Oblivion

In this interview shared through GeekTyrant.com, Joseph Kosinski director of the new Sci-Fi / Post-Apocalypse film Oblivion, talks about his love for 70’s films and how the story of his new film can be compared to the likes of ‘The Omega Man’ and ‘Silent Running’. Here’s the rest of the interview

On the story:

I started writing this small character-driven science fiction story that was in the vein of those science fiction films of the 1970s that involved this lone survivor among the ruins of civilization, like ‘Omega Man’ or ‘Silent Running’ — it was kind of in that vein. I thought if it was going to be my first movie it would have to be something very small and contained in order to even get a chance at pulling it off. So it’s the story of a drill repair man, Jack Harper, who is one of the last human beings left on earth after a massive war, which was the result of an alien invasion. Even though humankind won the war, Earth was left in such a state that we had to look for another place to settle, and Jack is left behind to monitor and secure the resource gathering operation that’s happening where we’re gathering the last bit of energy out of the earth’s seawater in order to move onto the next step.

On the graphic novel that the movie is based on:

That was the original treatment, the story. At the time I was ready to turn it into a screenplay, WGA went on strike and we couldn’t actually hire a screenwriter to work on a screenplay at that point. So in order to keep the process moving forward I teamed up with Radical Comics to develop and illustrate a novel in parallel based on this story. And we did that over a couple years, and then I got pulled into ‘Tron,’ which was a couple years, and as ‘Tron’ was in post [production] I had enough between the story and the illustrations I had done with Andre, the artist, I had enough of a package to go out and set the project up at a studio which is what I did. And then I went into feature mode so, we never actually finished the graphic novel because once it got picked up I realized that the way I wanted this story to be experienced was on the big screen and not out of the book.

On getting Tom Cruise on board:

It was our final Comic-Con for ‘Tron,’ and while I was showing the big Comic-Con trailer and we were doing our big song and dance for ‘Tron: Legacy,’ I was also launching an ashcan for ‘Oblivion’—which was just kind of like an introductory chapter with eight images at the Radical [Comics] booth. And the day after I got back from Comic-Con, I got a call from Tom’s agent saying that Tom had seen the ashcan and wanted to meet me and talk to me about it. I went over and met him at his hanger and I pitched him the full story ’cause he had just read that introductory beat—there wasn’t a script at that point it was a story in my head. And I pitched him the whole story over about two hours and at the end of the meeting he said, ‘Let’s do this. I want to do this. I want to do this movie with you.’ … The role fits him like a glove. I just can’t imagine anyone else playing this character.

On bringing sci-fi into daylight:

Visually, I always knew exactly what I wanted the film to look like. ‘Alien’ is one of my favorite movies of all time, but I feel like after ‘Alien,’ science fiction kind of went into the dark for a long time. It became about deep space and dark ship holes and it just went into darkness. I liked the idea of bringing science fiction out into the daylight again. So it is a daytime science fiction film where the world is kind of divided into two zones: the world above the clouds and the world below the clouds. The world above the clouds is where Jack lives with Victoria, his partner, in this operation, in the skytower which is 3,500 ft. above the ground, away from the dangers that live below, which is a very different world from the ground where Jack actually has to do his job every day. And that juxtaposition to me in concept lends itself into a visual juxtaposition as well, where you’re gonna see technology set against a landscape that I feel is something we haven’t really seen before.

The movie is set to be released in IMAX theaters on April 12th, 2012 and will hit regular theaters on April 19th. The Dystopic Boys will be there because this film definitely deals with Dystopian elements and…well it looks amazing.

…keep your radios on…

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

If you have already listened to The November podcast you will know that we watched The Omega Man.  I had every intention of reading the book that it was based on, I am Legend, for the podcast but was not able to find the time.  I finally started and completed it this morning in about two hours.  This is not a very long book, but it packs quite a punch.

I Am Legend was written by Richard Matheson in 1954.  It is set twenty years in the future during the 1970’s.  It tells the story of one man, Robert Neville, who thinks he is the last man on earth after a plague turns people into a version of vampires.  Since it’s writing it has been adapted into movie form 3 times.  The first adaptation Last Man on Earth, starred none other than Vincent Price.  It was re-imagined once again in 1971 as The Omega Man starring Charleton Heston.  Almost 40 years later in 2007 Will Smith starred in the third adaptation named directly for the book, I Am Legend.

I had watched two of these adaptations, The Omega Man and I Am Legend, prior to reading the book.  It was interesting to see how Matheson’s vision was changed in each of these.  In the book Richard Neville has lived through his first 6 months of being alone.  We see him in a state where he is alone and surviving, but in a deteriorated mental state.  He is assaulted in his home every night by vampires.  The book makes it out that these vampires are the dead who have returned due to a bacteria they are infected with.  These vampires carry with them many of the typical weaknesses we associate with vampires like sunlight, garlic, holy items, and stakes.  As the story progresses we learn more about the disease and why the vampires have these weaknesses.

The vampires are portrayed differently in both adaptations I have watched.  In The Omega Man they are shown as more crazy people who are members of an occult.  These people cannot come out in the daylight, but they still retain much of their ability to think.  In I Am Legend (the film) they are taken to the opposite extreme where they are shown as monsters with little to no humanity left, and no ability to reason.  The book is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

 

As the book reaches the ending we find that Neville is not alone in this world, but shares it with a group of people who are infected, but no taken over by the disease.  This new group is distrustful of Neville, and he realizes that there is no place in this new world for him.  Matheson excels at giving the reader the horror elements that are found in the I Am Legend film, but retains more of the humanity that is found in The Omega Man.  I feel his writing made for a good balance that allows you to more easily connect with Neville.  As is the case with much apocalyptic literature Matheson does not delve to much into the past history of the disease   Flashbacks are limited to Neville remembering his wife and daughter leading up to them becoming infected.

Overall this is an excellent story that pioneered of the classic dystopian futures, that of the sole survivor.  While many have tried to imitate or adapt this story I believe that Matheson’s telling stands on it’s own.