Christopher Nolan movies have become something of a cinematic event in recent years; even when he’s not adapting Batman – as with Inception – his name is enough to draw audiences by the droves. After all, what other working director is known for making huge blockbuster movies shot on actual film with as many practical effects as possible?
The next movie on the Christopher Nolan docket is science fiction film Interstellar, of which we’ve only seen a teaser trailer. Nolan recently talked about the film – as well as his love of the theatrical experience and the superiority of celluloid over digital – at a lunch in his honor during the 2014 CinemaCon.
Courtesy of THR and Variety, Nolan referred to Interstellar as a vehicle for “using interstellar travel to go to other places you couldn’t reach beyond normal space travel.” (Let’s hope that’s the titular line in the movie.) He also said:
“I grew up in an era that was a golden age of the blockbuster, when something we might call a family film could have universal appeal. That’s something I want to see again. In terms of the tone of [Interstellar[, it looks at where we are as a people and has a universality about human experience."
As previously stated, Nolan is a director who strives to use practical effects and on-location filming whenever possible. Of course, this isn't news to fans of The Dark Knight trilogy or Inception, the action scenes of which never felt burdened with an overabundance of CGI or green screen. Rather, they're quite beloved (in part) for their impressive stunt-work.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Nolan is employing similar tactics for Interstellar. According to THR, "[Nolan] built the interior of a space shuttle for some scenes, and placed actual images outside the windows so that the actors could see what their characters would see.”
“I want to capture as much in camera as possible. It’s a much higher quality than if you shoot on a green screen.”
Which isn’t to say that films that shoot with green screen can’t look amazing – Gravity proved that they very much can. But Alfonso Cuarón’s space-thriller was the rare sort of movie that got all of that stuff right: the CGI, the green screen, and the 3D.
But to Nolan’s point, when a large amount of CGI and green screen are usually employed in movies, it can be very apparent that you’re watching something that a computer put together. With Nolan’s films, it’s not.
Nolan went on to talk about the cast of Interstellar, which includes Academy Award winners Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, and Ellen Burstyn, as well as Academy Award nominees Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck (and other great actors who have neither been nominated for nor awarded an Oscar).
“[Mud] showed me a side of Matthew’s capabilities that I never knew was there. It was a transformative performance. From when I first saw it, I had an inside track on how great he could be. [...] I needed someone who is very much an everyman, someone the audience could experience the story with. He’s just a phenomenal, charismatic presence in the movie. His performance is shaping up to be extraordinary.”
As for Michael Caine:
“He comes so prepared and he is just so good with such a minimal effort. I cast him in every film just as an example to everyone else. He’s just a lovely guy to be around. He jokes that he’s my lucky charm. It was a very good strategy on his part.”
“Film is the best way to capture an image and project that image. It just is, hands down. That’s based on my assessment of what I’m seeing as a filmmaker. As far as innovation and experimentation, I’m in favor of any technological innovation, but it will always have to exceed what came before. None of the new technologies have done that.”
This is one of those arguments that I can see both sides of. While I generally agree with Nolan that film just looks better – more detailed, more beautiful, more tangible in appearance – I also can’t help but feel that some films were just meant to be digital. Michael Mann, Danny Boyle, David Fincher, and many more filmmakers have all used the digital format to incredible success, so it – like green screen and CGI – obviously has its place.
What say you, Screen Ranters? Do you prefer film to digital or vice versa? Are you looking forward to Interstellar? Drop us a line in the comments.
Interstellar hits theaters November 7th, 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.