Dazed Digital sits down with director Joseph Kosinski for an in-depth interview revolving around his latest film, the highly-anticipated TRON: Legacy, due in theaters on December 17th. Amongst several topics, Kosinski talks about taking immersive cinema to the next level with one of the most mind-bending visual experiences in movie history. Offered below is an excerpt from the interview:
Were you always into science-fiction? Do you remember watching the original TRON?
I can’t remember the experience but I do remember my impression of it – it looked like nothing else, it was confusing and it sounded weird. I don’t think I could quite grasp what was going on as it was clearly ten or fifteen years ahead of its time from a conceptual point of view. The quirky uniqueness of its vision is what really stuck with me. There’s always been something about science-fiction. It’s such a limitless genre. That’s what I’ve always found so attractive about it.
It’s also widely-regarded as a prescient genre. Do you think we will ever enter virtual environments such as the one portrayed in your film?
In a way, I think we almost do it now. I think it’s the world we are living in. There are certainly people who spend more time online than they do talking to other people directly. The movie tries to explore the theme of what it means to be human in an increasingly digital world – how do you try and maintain human connections and what what should your priorities be? What should you focus on? There are some dangers in our relationship with technology and our film explores both the good and bad side of what technology can be.
There is a dark fascistic vein in the film in the purging of the ISOs…
Right. Well, there is this idea of the pursuit of perfection in there, which is kind of Clue’s goal based on the orders given to him by the 35-year-old Kevin Flynn to create the greatest system possible. I think the film shows what the effects of that are when they are taken to an extreme, and how your priorities change as you get older. I don’t know if we had any aim to comment on anything overtly political, but I think it’s good that everyone can pull something different out of the film as to what its meaning is. There are some complex themes in this movie that people wouldn’t maybe expect in a blockbuster.
There is the theme of striving for immortality. Do you see our species evolving in that manner? With technology expanding the biological life-span and so on?
I don’t know. I don’t know if our minds are designed for that kind of life-span. I mean you can extend the body but the brain is a whole other thing. I don’t know if we are engineered to live that long. The thing I find interesting about the film is the question it raises about the idea that alien lifeforms won’t be discovered on other planets but will be discovered inside the computer. It’s an interesting notion. In fact, someone was telling me last night that someone has actually started to create some sort of self-replicating digital form of DNA, which sounds pretty trippy.
In terms of cutting-edge CGI, the face-mapping of Jeff Bridges to make him appear younger is pretty out-there. Might we one day we see the actors of yesteryear reappear on the big screen using this technique?
People have been talking about that a lot but I think it’s important to note that even though Clue is a digital creature he is driven by Jeff. Without him driving the performance, it wouldn’t feel like him. You can’t animate Jeff, You can’t create his inflection or tone of voice… if someone uses it to try and create dead celebrities on-screen they are just going to be left with an empty shell.
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