Director Boyle opens up about making a sci-fi film
chris atchison/metro toronto
Fans of British director Danny Boyle should enjoy Sunshine, his first foray into the cinematic realm of science fiction.
It’s likely to be his last.
“You can shoot me in the head if you find me doing one,” Boyle laughs when asked if he’d even consider doing another film set in space.
“You realize, too late of course, why directors only make one space movie. They do, they don’t go back. It’s just a lifetime making them, both in terms of the time it takes and what you have to become to make them.”
The director, best known for his work on films such as Trainspotting, The Beach and 28 Days Later, re-teams with screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later) for the futuristic Sunshine, about a space mission to Earth’s dying sun, aimed at exploding a massive bomb capable of re-igniting the dying star.
Sci-fi fans will notice stylistic similarities to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien and Solaris, and Boyle concedes that references to those iconic movies are almost unavoidable when making any sci-fi film based on real science, as he tried to do with this project.
“You can make a fantasy sci-fi film like Star Wars, but to make a serious space movie that’s based on a certain degree of realism, they’re going to be there, those three films,” he says.
Boyle employed a physicist on-set so that his cast, including Cillian Murphy (Breakfast On Pluto), Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs Of A Geisha) and Chris Evans (Fantastic Four), could ask questions relating to many of the film’s plot devices — namely the difficulty and complexities surrounding the navigation of a space ship into the sun.
Boyle enthusiasts will also notice a certain trademark tension in Sunshine reminiscent of past films such as 28 Days Later and Trainspotting.
The 51-year-old points out that he relishes placing a small group of characters in extremely difficult situations. In Sunshine, for example, the crew is forced to make life-and-death decisions about each other in the hope of completing their mission.
It’s classic Boyle played out in his ultra-edgy style.
“There’s something about the size of the cinema screen that wants you to be dashing, it wants you to dare to go to the sun, to dare to empty London (as in 28 Days Later), to dare to dive down a toilet (as in Trainspotting).
“It loves that, but you’ve got to be bold to do it. Sometimes (movies) don’t work for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes they do.”
- Sunshine is now in theatres.