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Equilibrium Commentary
Kurt Wimmer

1. Man's Inhumanity To Man

Transcription by JenGe

Ogami Eto

This is Kurt Wimmer, the direttore, scriptory of the film.

Equilibrium, white titles, black card, that's pretty much the theme of the movie. Cheapest way to go. Anything that didn't directly effect the story I just found the cheapest way & I did it.

This opening montage, I thought it was necessary because the opening action scene is...has a certain amount of hyperbole in it to say the least and I thought it was important to get the audience's, you know, heads into the right space.

I chose to use image, voice-over, and titles, because I thought if I only used voice-over and image, I think that image being so primal tends to take over and the audience would stop listening...(That's the director by the way. We ran out of money and somebody had to do it)...the audience would stop listening to what the voice-over was saying and strictly focus on the visuals so that's why we did this way we did it.

Okay, this is Dominic Purcell here of TV's DOA, Aussie guy. The producer and I, Lucas Foster, we really liked him, very good-looking guy. He's got a great voice, sounds just like Gregory Peck. I actually read him for the lead believe it or not, however he was at the time somebody who the studio was not going to hire, I think he'd only had a small part in Mission Impossible at that time. Ironically I think that they would hire him in a hot second now.

All of this exterior stuff here...this is all shot by Harvey Harrison, my second unit...second unit DP. As a first time director I was unsure how to deal with second unit. You know, I didn't...these were guys who were veterans, who had been on film sets for years... and I didn't want to be like a young turk, who was coming in and just sort of throwing his weight around...and I wanted to respect their artistic integrity. So at the end of the day, I just stood back and let him do what he was going to do with the stuff that he shot...which was that exterior stuff.

Okay, here we have the introduction of the lead character, Grammaton Cleric John Preston...

...and it never ceases to amaze me how a lot of directors just throw away the introduction of the lead character. I really feel that the audience needs a naked moment, unobserved to look in the character's eye to decide who that person is and what they think about them...and to figure out whether they like them or not.

Coming up here, we have the scene where he bursts into the room. This was kind of an interesting...interesting problem because I had this idea where I wanted the camera to parallel the a...Christian's slide into the room and end up in a very specific frame. You know, on a larger film this probably wouldn't have been problematic. They probably would have known how to do it but there was a lot of talk back and forth on how to accomplish that. You know, the tecno crane was mentioned...cable cam was mentioned. None of this was really practical for us because we really couldn't afford it but the grip...key grip, Dieter Bauer kept saying, "Don't worry about it. Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it on the day." And everyone was pretty skeptical, you know, including me but...because it's really hard to get a camera, which is very heavy, moving that fast...but what he did is he just attached a rope to the dolly and through sheer physical force swung it and set it down, gentle as a baby, right there. A low tech solution...really worked.

Audiences aren't use to black...this is...and I think a lot of people thought their projectors were broken. This is some of the cheapest film you will ever see. It's just me whispering on a sound stage and some black leer. Actually this whole scene is very cheap. I needed an action scene and I knew that but we certainly didn't have the time or the money to film anything that was choreographed, so I decided just to shoot a scene that was lit only by gunfire. I moved the camera in 12 positions around Christian, had him shoot. Put these guys against black dubateen and set up a photo lux, which is a sync strobe camera...high speed 6 stroke camera...and, you know, a mattress with the same guys with different jackets on every time and had them get shot. I think it actually worked out pretty well.

I saw a number of people on-line wrote in about this gun glow here. The heat sync of his barrels as they heat up, and I was very gratified because I didn't think a lot of people would actually be able to tell, you know, what that was in the minimal lighting there. Although that is an awkward cut to that shot right there.

Um, I like this scene primarily because it is lit only by flashlights, and it's nice because it really does direct your eye exactly where you want it to go.

Dominic is dead here. I had originally started the film with a shot of one of the rebels putting this record on a record player. It's a lullaby that I really liked, and him appreciating it. I ended up cutting it out and going with a different way to get into the film. But I kept this scene because I wanted to be explicable why Christian, when he discovered the Victrola and the Beethoven in the room, why he would have some idea of what it did. In fact, here's the Yeats book; it's first appearance. I think a lot of people miss that.

We are coming up on the scene where Christian...and forgive me if I refer to Christian alternately as Christian and Preston because Christian really is Grammaton Cleric John Preston for me...where they burn the Mona Lisa. You know, there was some talk in the press about this decision to use the Mona Lisa and as someone who comes from an art background I was certainly aware of the irony of this choice and it was something I thought about a lot. But at the end of the day, I think the fact of the matter is, is that the Mona Lisa is possibly the only piece of art that is universally known throughout the world as being great art. Some kid from Pacoima, his artistic taste may have expanded into other areas. You know, he may not be familiar with the Blau Reiter or Fauvism any more than the curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is familiar with the early work of KRS1 or something like that. In any case, I ultimately decided this was the only piece of art, even Starry Night I think is not universally recognized with the way this is...and if I had used a Bouguereau or something some people might have actually cheered. So, at the end of the day, I felt like this was the safest choice to get the point across and I think...you know... it does get the point across.

Our camera battery failed twice while we were shooting the burning of this painting and I only had two doubles...didn't have a very big budget on this movie at all and...so I really didn't get any footage of it burning, which was disastrous. And the camera failing...the battery failing twice in this circumstance is basically the cinematic equivalent of the hangman's, the rope, breaking twice in a row.