It’s sometimes important for me to remember that working for Pixar Animation Studios does have its perks: today we were blessed with a preview screening of the new movie, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and were also blessed with a special guest appearance by its director Kerry Conran, editor Sabrina Plisco and production designer Kevin Conran.
The movie begins in the New York of old: the New York of the 30s, the New York of Zeppelins and Radio City Music Hall. Six scientists have disappeared, and reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) is trying to crack the story. She meets a mysterious scientist in a movie theater, and he tells her that he is next.
And then the robots attack.
I’m not going to go into more of the story. It is a comic book adventure story, and if you go for that kind of thing, you’ll enjoy it. The real amazing bit about this film is just how beautiful it looks: it has a very classic “old-film” look, and yet has amazingly beautiful sets, creepy robots and exciting combat sequences, all inspired from black and white photography of the period. Go and drink it in: I don’t think a more innovative visual look has been developed since The Wizard of Oz.
The Q&A we had with Kerry was great: he was genuinely intimidated by the Pixar crowd, but everyone was blown away at the innovation and the achievement. This movie began as a very budget independent film, and was ten years in the making. He graduated from Cal Arts with (paraphrasing) “only a marginally greater chance of being able to direct a film than when I went in”, so he set out (literally in his own apartment) with developing the technology, look and script. It was really a very shoestring affair, with many of the scenes shot nearly entirely in blue screen, and many animators who were “literally high school students”. He tried to incorporate many of the ideas from traditional animation to give his film a unique style. I was enormously impressed by his humor, his humility and his talent: it is a stupendous achievement.
Go see it. It’s fun, and marvel at the beauty. I can’t wait to see the DVD with extras, or the article from Cinefex.