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Equilibrium Commentary
Kurt Wimmer &
Lucas Foster

1. Man's Inhumanity To Man

Transcription by Max

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

Lucas- And this is Lucas Foster the lowly, lowly producer.

Kurt- That's funny, you didn't act 'lowly'.

Lucas- Yeah.

Kurt- ... At least not as lowly as I thought you should have!

Kurt- So, I actually made the decision to put the credits at the end of the film, which is not all that novel. But the reason being that if I put them at the front of the film, I would've had to pay for a snazzy looking credit sequence an' we didn't have the money.

Lucas- We struggled a lot right, with these... Trying to find the right images...

Kurt- Absolutely, an' really just the right tone. At one time I had a lot of war footage with Sean Pertwee's voice over... And it just didn't quite work, I ended up settling on this because the things I thought were important were to establish the tone, that this was a science fiction film. And to establish right here; The Grammaton Cleric.

I thought it was important to run that concept, that sort of Jedi Knight concept throughout the film, and prepare the audience for it.

Lucas- Actually the name, 'The Grammaton Cleric', that was something that came very early on in the development process of the scripting, an' really stuck in the movie. You know, things sometimes change but we hung on to that all the way through.

Kurt- Yeah, it's funny if you refer to the very first version of the script, they were called the double 'e'.

Lucas- Yeah.

Kurt- An' I changed it into what I named the government, the Tetragrammaton. Which is after the unspeakable Hebrew word of God. Which then became Yahweh, which then became Jehovah. And in any case 'Grammaton' in/of itself doesn't make sense except that it's a shortening of Tetragrammaton. But, 'Grammaton Cleric', it has a noble sound, and a cool sound to it so.

Lucas- This action sequence was done in East Germany.

Kurt- That’s right.

Lucas- Quite deep into East Germany actually, in what was like a manufacturing facility right?

Kurt- No, no, it was barracks for the East German soldiers. It's fascinating to go into East Germany, you really see the effects of communism. And this is what places look like there. They were run-down like this before the wall came down and then of course afterwards there weren't the funds to address them. I think they were in the process of ...They were gonna tear this down. It'll all be built up beautifully again someday. I promise you, the land's way too valuable.

But, it's amazing all of the decimated places that we saw there.

Kurt- That steady cam shot...

Lucas- ...Took along time to get this right as I recall.

Kurt- ...Thirty six takes, and I'm not quite sure why, at the end of the day.

Lucas- (laughs)

Kurt- And, we did a lot of takes on this shot too...

And that was a luxury, by the way that we didn't have on this film very much, I mean, that was certainly the rare exception. Mostly we did four or five takes. And it depended sometimes on the actors. But, Christian was interesting in that his performance, literally would not vary from take to take. They were almost carbon copies of each other. Angus would start out, sort of, very broad. And then around the fourth take he would get quiet, and that's when he would nail it. Emily interestingly enough, she would get better with every take. So, I would end up doing fourteen or fifteen takes with her if we had the time because she would just get better every time.

(Pitch black)

Lucas- Err? I had some fears about leaving this much black in the movie. Kurt was really pretty brave I think to try this, it always went to black. But, it didn't really linger to the degree that it does in the final cut of the movie. And it's pretty interesting the reaction that audiences have to that. It really makes them uncomfortable for a minute. And then they sort of love it after that.

Kurt- It does. I mentioned this on the other track. That they’re not accustomed to black feeder in film. They think something’s happened to the projection... On DVD it's gonna have a different impact because they're gonna know it's working. But the interesting thing is that the black sucks you into the screen in a way that almost no image can. It's like falling into a bottomless hole. And then when that person, which is me, says: "Listen..." you really listen, because there's nothing else to do.

I personally, I always, even though I've seen it a million times, I find myself falling into the screen and when the gunshot goes off I think it's one beat past when you think it should. Kind of like in Jaws when the body leaps out, and it always startles me.

Lucas- By the way, in this sequence we had some trouble, some 'R&D trouble', sort of lighting it if you will. The original concept was to light it with the muzzle flashes and we had a little bit of trouble working it out because we were kind of 'doing it on the fly'. But, we did it actually, eventually work out a methodology where we could see enough to matter. What helped it in post-production was a little bit of visual effect work.

Kurt- Yeah, I have to say the camera department did a wonderful job on this film. But they actually sort of 'dropped the ball' on that particular scene. I think they sort of underestimated what they would need to do.

I'd actually mentioned the solution, not that I really know anything about camera, to brag about. But I actually mentioned the solution which was a photo lux 6 stroke, which would've had to come from London, which I ultimately did use to shoot the guys who were getting shot. The problem is, is that the gun shots they get swallowed up by the integrals in-between frames, and you can never reliably catch them.

(Cleric Partridge steps out of the room)

Kurt- This is somewhat interesting, I was losing Sean (Bean) this day, and there was nothing to be done about it.

I was gonna lose him at 1 o clock and originally he was supposed to be in this room, so I found this out that morning. And, I had to think very quickly as to how I could block the scene in such a way that I could shoot him out in such a way that it was sensible in terms of setups and yet make it seem like he'd never left the scene so I just have him, in a while you'll see. He steps aside as though he's letting these people in, in fact he's in London by this point!

Lucas- It's interesting, when we were choosing the paintings for this sequence there were some people in the process who'd read the script who felt like the Mona Lisa was an inappropriate image for this somehow. They were worried that people would find it unbelievable or comical in some way but it actually really sells the idea pretty well.

Kurt- Well, yeah I had talked about this. Jan [de Bont] was one of the people that said it and, to his credit, he was right. I think a lot of the critics reacted with the irony of burning that painting, although none of the actual paying customers did. But Jan has a strong background in art, a strong understanding in art, and he saw that that was a potential reaction...