Weekly Movie-Making Moments in Film: Sunshine / 28 Days Later / District 9
Sunshine is a 2007 British science fiction film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland.
In 2057 the sun is dying, and mankind is dying with it. Our last hope: a spaceship and a crew of eight men and women. They carry a device, a massive stellar bomb with the mass equivalent to Manhattan Island, which will breathe new life into the star. But deep into their voyage, out of radio contact with Earth, their mission is starting to unravel. There is an accident, a fatal mistake, and a distress beacon from a spaceship that disappeared seven years earlier. Soon the crew is fighting not only for their lives, but their sanity.
The crew is made up of an ensemble cast consisting of Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, Chipo Chung, and Mark Strong. The script was based on a scientific back-story that took the characters on a psychological journey. The director cast a group of international actors for the film, and had the actors live together and learn about topics related to their roles, as a form of method acting. To have the actors realistically react to visual effects that would be implemented in post-production, the filmmakers constructed live sets to serve as cues. Previous science fiction films that Boyle cited as influences included Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the 1972 Tarkovsky’s Solaris, and the 1979 science-fiction horror film Alien.
Sunshine is one of my favorite films of all time. I have seen it several times and it never ceases to entertain me as I embrace its stunning beauty.
I was first introduced to the filmmaking of Danny Boyle in 2003 with his kinetic, apocalyptic and frightening horror film 28 Days Later: In the film a powerful virus is unleashed following a raid on a primate research facility by animal rights activists. Transmitted in a drop of blood, the virus locks those infected into a permanent state of murderous rage. Within 28 days the country is overwhelmed and a handful of survivors begin their attempts to salvage a future, little realizing that the virus is not the only thing that threatens them.
The only other film in recent production, I feel parallels Sunshine in its originality and vision is District 9 by Peter Jackson and Neill Bloomkamp.
District 9 synopsis: Over 20 years ago, aliens made first contact with Earth. Humans waited for the hostile attack, or the giant advances in technology. Neither came. Instead, the aliens were refugees, the last survivors of their home world. The creatures were set up in a makeshift home in South Africa’s District 9 as the world’s nations argued over what to do with them. Now, patience over the alien situation has run out. Control over the aliens has been contracted out to Multi-National United (MNU), a private company uninterested in the aliens’ welfare – they will receive tremendous profits if they can make the aliens’ awesome weaponry work. So far, they have failed; activation of the weaponry requires alien DNA.
The tension between the aliens and the humans comes to a head when an MNU field operative, Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), contracts a mysterious virus that begins changing his DNA. Wikus quickly becomes the most hunted man in the
world, as well as the most valuable – he is the key to unlocking the secrets of alien technology. Ostracized and friendless, there is only one place left for him to hide: District 9.
All three films are distinctly different in their subject matter, but are so well acted, produced, and directed it is difficult to choose one over the other as a favorite.
So what do you think? Are you a big fan of the Science Fiction genre? Have you seen any of these remarkable films, and if so do you have a favorite? And what is your favorite film of this genre and why?