The beauty of Christopher Nolan as a director is the fact that his sense of art and execution is authentic. For a film to depict real human energy, it takes effort, the appreciation that comes after is what it all pays off for.
A particular sequence in the movie Inception, where Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has to fight his way through a rotating corridor and a rotating hotel room in a dream caught my eye. None of it was executed using VFX or visual graphics, being authentic in it’s most real form. An actual suspended corridor was built that rotated at a certain speed for the whole scene to be shot, without any stunt doubles.
Joseph himself risked the chances of getting heavily injured to find the next ground to put his foot on as it rotated while also delivering a mind blowing performance.
This is the beauty of film-making, the authenticity.
The Creative Director of this movie must have had the most pressure on him while shooting this sequence. Getting an engineer on board to first build a suspended studio that would help create the sequence. It started out with huge diamond shaped rings that carried the corridor inside of it. The corridor was then designed to look like that of the hotel room in the movie.
They then had to figure out a way to add components into the corridor in such a manner that it did not slip and fall, they either had to keep it moving with the same pace as the corridor or they had to screw it down to hold it into place.
They chose the option of screwing it down, yet another problem that came up was the lightning.
With the corridor rotating, the shadows that the fixed objects would cast, would be different at every angle and that is not what was intended to show on screen, they managed to get that right and keep a moving light at the same speed as the rotation.
The room was constructed of wood and backed by steel tubing; Chris Corbould’s, VFX Supervisor, team placed seven steel I-beam rings with roller wheels every 16 feet along the length of the corridor. The wheels were connected to two 55-hp electric motors, which were synchronised by a computer. Film-makers only had to press a button to make the rig move; the corridor could complete one revolution every 10 seconds and rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise. Tracks for cameras were built into the room to shoot the scene.
After this, they could either hire a stunt-double or Joseph had to get in there to give a lifetime of a performance, and he did. With merely 2 hours of rehearsal time, Joseph mastered the art of jumping around the walls as they rotated, without hurting himself, while being in the character.
Not just this, Christopher Nolan has been said to go all out for how he wants to execute his ideas with a bunch of other movies as well. From the cinematography on down to the final sound mix, Nolan intended for Interstellar to be his most technically ambitious work to date. The share of his attention is lavished on the visuals, building on his innovative use of large-format film gauges in a narrative setting.
Filmmaking is a whole process that requires effort and time, for one to strive and make it so authentic in its work, it takes a great deal of passion. A lot of directors choose to use digitization or computer to get their way around. To put it into a real life size structured narrative is one thing.
With directors such as Nolan that bring mere ideas into life-like situation, films have nowhere to go but be progressive.
Note: Just when I’d not had enough of Nolan to discover, I came across this fun fact that – In Japan, the movie is broadcasted on television with the number of the dream level displayed in the corner.