a) In the shadow of a narrow corridor of films
Danny Boyle made the movie Sunshine based on Alex Garland's script which for him was about eight astronauts strapped to the back of a bomb. He called it "weird sci-fi", and was a kind of sci-fi that followed the pattern of a ship, a crew and a signal that changes everything causing the crew to change course. In that sense there was a very narrow corridor to work in, but it came up with great scifi movies such as Tarkovsky's Solaris, 2001; A Space Odyssey and the first Alien. One would never escape the shadow of these films, it was a question of either stop filming and give it up or you have to acknowledge that this is borrowed from these films. He thought that until mankind starts colonising space, there was always going to be a steel tube of some sort being piloted out there like that
b) The crew connection
The connection with crew in other films is that basically it's about a bunch of people, which he had done a number of times, but the people are either isolated together either through choice or circumstances and the story shows how they disintegrate or how they cope which for him was how it connected with some of the other films in different ways
c) Fascination with the sun
He thought that the idea of the inclusion of the sun in the movie was a fascinating thing, there had never been a film about the sun. He thought about a part of Lost in Space where they comically go through the sun and come out the other side and that was about as far as films went in that direction.
d) Research into long term confinement
He did a lot of research such as confinement to try and give the feeling that the crew had been together for 16 months. They visited a nuclear submarine in Scotland to take a look at it. One of the strangest things he thought about was they they go out for perhaps three months at a time and have no radio contact. They can receive messages but they don't give back any signals so that no one can see where their submarines are, whether it would be off the coast of Scotland or the Falkland Isles or anywhere in the world.
- Q. What made you tackle the sci-fi genre with Sunshine?
Danny Boyle: It was Alex’s script really, which was this fantastic idea about eight astronauts strapped to the back of a bomb. It’s weird sci-fi. This kind of sci-fi boils down to a ship, a crew and a signal and they all boil down to that pattern. It’s a very narrow corridor that you work in that does great sci-fi, films like Solaris and the first Alien. So it had that and then it had this amazing thing about the sun. We started thinking and there’s never been a film about the sun. There’s a bit in Lost In Space where they comically go through the sun and come about the other side and that’s about it as far as films about the sun go.(http://www.indielondon.co.uk)
- PT: Visually and mentally I felt there was a great link between this and say…2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), with a bit of Alien (1979) thrown in. But what I really liked is a movie that I only saw recently called Forbidden Planet (1956)
and there are some scenes in that where you just get the awe of
distance, space and great huge machines that you can’t comprehend.
That happened quite a lot in this—particularly when you realise that
you’ve got a bomb as big as a suburb. Am I correct in saying you went to
those point of inspiration? Or am I completely wrong?
Danny Boyle: No, definitely. Everywhere you turn, those films are definitely there. They’re like these huge giants that hover over you. Solaris (1972) is another one. The first Alien (1979) You can’t do anything without knowing that they’ve been there before you. Sometimes you borrow from them and you hope that you’re standing on their shoulders. And sometimes you just think that people are going to say: ‘Ah yeah, it’s a bit like 2001!’. You’ll never escape its shadow. But yeah, we did a lot of research on that. We did a lot of research on confinement to try and give the feeling that they’d been together for like 16 months. So we got on a nuclear submarine in Scotland and had a look at that. You find out the weirdest things: they go out for like three months at a time and have no radio contact. They can receive messages, but they don’t give back any signals so nobody can see where their submarines are. So they might be just off the coast of Scotland or they might be just off the Falkland Isles. They could be anywhere in the world, you know? (www.popcorntaxi.com.au/2013/07)
- KR: Any specific films of that era that
you cited or reference or looked at formally or was it more of an
instinctive kind of think “like these” movies.
Danny Boyle: There are, there are three particularly. They are there everywhere that you turn. Every time you think you’re being original, they are there waiting for you. Obviously 2001, the first Alien film, and Tarkovsky’s Solaris. For different reasons for each of them, but they’re all there. You either have to stop filming and give it up, or you have to acknowledge this is borrowed from Alien or...it’s actually very limited.
It’s a very limited corridor that you’re working in. Basically all the films seem to break down into three ingredients. You have a ship, you have a crew, and you have a signal that changes everything. And they seem to all break down into that and it’s because, I think, until we start colonizing space, you’re always going to have this steel tube piloting out there like that.
The crew...now that brings me back to what you were saying. The connection with the other films is basically it’s a bunch of people, which I’ve done a number of times, which is that you have a bunch of people that are either isolated together, either through choice or circumstances and it’s how they disintegrate, or how they cope, that’s sort of how it connects with the other films I think, if anything. Not with all of them, but with some of them. (Killer Reviews)
- Danny Boyle: And every one of them is usually the same story, and the story is usually that there's a signal from space and the crew change course because of it, and if you think through your favourite scifi films, serious ones, not the fantasy ones, they all have that plot device in them, and it's because we've not been there, and we don't have any stories about them or we do but they're fantastical because they're made up, you know kind of a... so that was why we got... and I've always been drawn to that so that was a wonderful. (Winter Shuffle 2013: 'Sunshine' Q&A with Danny Boyle, Mark Kemode & Physicist Brian Cox discuss Sunshine)