The Oscars: Franklin Talks Inception
PF: You know, I did read recently something that Chris had said that he definitely has an answer about whether it falls or doesn't, but he's not going to tell us. He doesn't want to impose that on people. He wants people to arrive at their own decision. That's part of the appeal of the film. And think of that last shot basically challenging you to re-examine everything you've just seen in the last two-and-a-half hours. I mean, the one thing Chris did say, which perhaps gives an indication, is that Cobb isn't interested in whether it falls or not: he's not looking at it, he's completely absorbed in his children, so make of that what you will.
BD: Dreaming is more comfortable than reality.
PF: But we all know how people can interpret the same event in different ways. Well, imagine if you take that one step further and it encompasses an entire reality.
BD: What do you think about the other contenders?
PF: What's really interesting is that you're seeing work being used in increasingly diverse ways.
PF: That's interesting because you've got a very objective event that people know quite well and seen footage of -- the tsunami -- and then, of course, the much more impressionistic vision of the afterlife, which is quite a strong contrast within that one film.
PF: Yes, absolutely. There's an astonishing range and breadth of work in there with extraordinary attention to detail. And the level of finish that they achieve now is great when you think about the sheer amount of work that goes into those movies. Again, it's a very self-consistent fantasy world that has been created; it lives somewhere between the real world and the rich wizard's universe, which lives on the other side of our reality. And the visual effects are just part of the fabric of the universe and foregrounding the characters and the dramatic action.
BD: Iron Man 2?
PF: You might say it's a more traditional application of visual effects with robots and explosions and things, but it's done so well that it produces this seamless, consistent universe and everything feels like it fits in there.
BD: And Alice in Wonderland?
PF: A truly astonishing amount of work in that film. Every single surface is crafted. Again, it's a fantasy film, but has a very consistent feel and is a totally different universe from Harry Potter. And its craziness is very rich, almost illustrational version of a fantasy world. But I loved it and the way they played around with the scale of humans, and I thought some of the character work was very good, particularly the frog, which I thought were fantastic.
BD: What is the take away from Inception as you head into The Dark Knight Rises?
PF: I guess the key thing, first off, is the working relationship that we established with Chris: this a very, very close, integrated way of working where I could quite happily show him stuff at early stages that in the past I might've hesitated to show to a director. But because he had an understanding of where we're going to go from an early animatic or a very simple setup that he has the confidence that we're going to turn this into something which is photorealistic a few weeks or a month down the line. And so that made a huge difference from having to wait for a shot to be nearly finished.
BD: What new wrinkles do you have at your disposal for this Dark Knight?
PF: There's a bunch of things we developed on Inception, which will have application on Dark Knight Rises. I think our environment work reached a new level of photorealism, particularly the daylight stuff. And I guess having gone through the mill on Inception creating all these extraordinary surreal images and doing our best to deliver the best quality photorealism that we could manage. There's nothing that gets me too worried about environment work anymore. Chris is an inventive person and is definitely going to come up with some things that are going to stretch us and push a little bit harder. There's no standing still with Chris Nolan.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.