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Knowing Director Alex Proyas Describes His Diatribe-Free Disaster Movie

Knowing Director Alex Proyas Describes His Diatribe-Free Disaster Movie” width=”560″/>

Knowing director Alex Proyas discusses the nature of disasters and the possibility of a Dark City sequel.

Q: Knowing is less stylized than some of your other projects.

A: That was intentional. I went for a more naturalistic feel. I still use all the same techniques in a way; it’s more subtly stylized. I wanted it to feel more real — I felt it would have greater emotional impact that way.

Q: The Alex Proyas horror is still in there, though.

A: Right. Someone said there was a screening and they saw a guy watching the movie in a fetal position, which I take as a great compliment.

Q: The catalyst to the movie is a time capsule in which predictions are written. That seems antithetical to the idea of time capsules, which symbolize optimism about the future.

A: I was aware of that contrast. People in the ’50s were hopeful about the future; they had this romantic vision of what the future might be like. And that ties into the whole time capsule idea. These days we have a fear of the future. We have such a bleak outlook, and to me, that was an interesting contrast.

Q: Disaster movies sometimes turn out to be diatribes about environmentalism. But Knowing doesn’t seem to have a message.

A: I don’t really like movies that are preachy. There’s a lot being said in the movie, there are a lot of ideas being explored, but I hope they’re subtle, and I hope that people are allowed to come up with their own concepts. The complexity of the issues that we’re having to deal with in the world right now, it’s very difficult to tie them up in a neat little ribbon. And I feel like you look pretentious if you try and do that.

Q: Nicolas Cage’s arc is almost that of a superhero’s origin as he copes with the foreknowledge of these disasters.

A: That’s the expectation going into it, and it’s the expectation you have when Nick Cage is up there on the screen. You watch a certain movie of this kind and you assume you’re looking at a hero, and a superhero is someone who’s going to kick ass and save the world — I’m aware of that. So when it turns out in a somewhat different way, with perhaps a little bit more complexity to it, it gets my interest.

Q: The disasters in the movie have a shocking viscerality to them.

A: It was intentionally done in a very shocking and brutal and
hopefully, realistic, way. It’s because it comes out of the context of
a film that is quite believable. The plane crash, for example, which
everybody has seen because it’s been on trailers.

Q: You seem unhappy about that.

A: I am unhappy. It was conceived of to be completely out of the
blue. Nick Cage pulls up on the freeway, he sees sirens and you think,
well maybe that’s the disaster. The last thing you’d expect is for a
jet to come barreling at him from nowhere. And it’s because the pace
just draws you in a very natural way, and then suddenly there’s this
very brutal thing that happens. And that’s kind of life, really. The
orchestra isn’t playing really loudly just before you’re involved in a
horrible car accident — it just happens.

Q: How did this project differ from your other mainstream scifi movie, I, Robot?

A: This one is trying to do something quite different. You have to understand I, Robot was conceived of — in a very flawed fashion — as part of a series of movies. Sadly I had the misfortune of working with a studio that I will never repeat that experience with, and so I will not be involved in any future movies. So it had a very different construction. This is very much one piece, and actually the sort of movie I prefer making. I like movies that have a beginning, a middle and an end. So few movies do these days; they’re often the set up for a franchise.

Q: So no Knowing 2?

A: I have no plans, no. I can never say absolutely not, because who the hell knows what happens? Dark City was considered a one-off. It wasn’t a box office sensation, but over the years it’s done quite well on DVD. So there have been some discussions lately of doing some continuation of the story.

Q: Would you do it?

A: Yeah I would, if I could come up with the right story and I had time to do it all.

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