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DVD: Bringing ‘Sunshine’ Home

To me, the mark of a great commentary is that, at the end, you haven’t so much been privy to some banter between actors or technical people about who did what on what day during the making of the film, but that you come away feeling a number of things: Yes, of course one of those things should be ‘entertained’ and sure, some behind the scenes shenanigans is always nice too – but I always like to come away from watching/listening to a commentary track feeling like I’ve just been given the opportunity to pick the brain of a great film maker. And Director Danny Boyle’s commentary on the Sunshine DVD is just such a track.

For example; according to Boyle, great science fiction films — of the style that SUNSHINE fits perfectly into — are made up of three things: The Ship, the Crew and the Signal. It had never occurred to me until I heard Boyle deliver that break-down, during his one man commentary track, that the formula to some of cinema’s finest science-fiction offerings could be so neatly summarised. And yet, he’s right… and I’ll probably never look at Alien, 2001 or Solaris the same way again thanks to that comment from him.

One of the odd things about maintaining a site like EOL is that I become attached to some films, especially the ones that I’ve been following long before there was any hype about them. Sunshine is one of those: I first wrote about it just over 12 months ago.

In March of this year I attended a rather ill fated preview screening of the film and a Question/Answer session with Rose Byrne and Danny Boyle. At that screening the film was completely butchered by some extremely half-asses goings on in the projection room. But the film’s intensity managed to survive the spasmodic — and at times, reversed — delivery and, aided by Boyle’s openness and sense of humour during the Q&A, only served to wet my appetite for a complete, uninterrupted, showing… which I only had to wait a little over a month to get.

Fortunately the movie hadn’t been spoilt for me by the previous attempt to see it. If anything the fact that the film managed to suck me into it’s grip again the second time around stands a testament to intensity with which Alex Garland’s script has been bought to the screen.

There’s no doubt that Sunshine will be a movie that I revisit continuously in the future, in much the same way that I find myself gravitating back to Blade Runner every few months or so: So, not owning this DVD was out of the question. Boyle’s commentary, the two short films, deleted scenes, and the 2 dozen or so Web Diary videos only make it so much more worth while but honestly, there was also never any chance that I wasn’t going to love the DVD, so aside from the movie, they could have just put 20 minutes of static for all I cared.

The only downside to having the DVD, to having the movie in my hands now, is that it means that this will probably be the last time I get to make a post focused on Sunshine alone. I’m sure I’ll bring it up from time to time, however unless they announce a sequel (and seriously, you wouldn’t want to read THAT post) this is probably the end of the line in that respect.

The only thing left for you to do is go out and get the DVD too, so I don’t have to think any less of you.

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    Awesome. I have been waiting on the film to be released on DVD after your recommendations dude. I still have to wait, and that sucks, but I need to hear this in 5.1 because the neighbors need a dose of their own medicine.
    Care to loan me your copy so I may enjoy the film in its proper, surround glory? I’ll even shout you a coffee at the VC Gloria Jeans :P

  • Pfft, you’re going to have to do better than a cup of over-priced coffee if you want to get your hands on my sunshine… sunshine!

  • I will accept that it is good… but Blade-runner Good???

    I find that hard to believe.

  • I don’t know if it’s *Blade Runner Good* Macca, but it’s most certainly in the same class as Blade Runner: In so much as it’s the sort of sci-fi that I really enjoy and can watch many times over.

    There are few movies that I can say that about.

  • I must admit that I haven’t seen sunshine (or even read much about it other than the odd review, for that matter…) but I get the feeling that we are talking more ‘Event Horizon’ than ‘Blade-runner’.

    I’m not a big fan of mixing themes; particularly the supernatural/horror with sci-fi.

    And I was not a fan of EH. Sam Neill was wasting his time.

  • I’m afraid that you’re going to have to go and stand in the corner for a while Macca… and just have a long hard think about what you just did.

    I simply wont stand for anyone mentioning that particular Sam Neil film on this site! I simply wont stand for it young man!

  • PS: You’re way confused if you think that there’s anything ‘supernatural’ about Sunshine – if any thing, while the *science* is the film is stretched pretty far, it’s all pretty darn feasible… or at least it feels that way and (more importantly) keeps out of the way of the story.

  • I know that EH falls amongst the ranks of ‘steaming piles of’ and I feel very contrite for even raising it on your highly elevated website.

    However, I must raise concerns based on my very little knowledge of the content and context of ‘Sunshine’.

    Heck, if Pauline Hanson is allowed a political soap box to sprout her ill-educated, red-necked, fear-mongering, ethically intollerant, narrow-minded opinion,(twice!!) then all I can hope for is a small space to voice my own unfounded fears and misunderstandings…

  • You HAVE your small space.. it’s in the corner! :P

    It’s cool Macca – I have to put up with iBrett and his love of EH often enough… I just particularly dislike that film’s director and that film symbolises WHY I dislike him more than any other.

    But back to the subject at hand – There is nothing supernatural in the plot of Sunshine. The film isn’t about aliens or anything like that, it’s a movie about a team of people who have the fate of all humanity on their shoulders and how that kind of pressure affects them.

    It’s not a film which is about the destination, it’s a film about a journey.

    The sci-fi premise is that the sun is failing and the crew of this ship is sent to detonate a massive bomb (the size of Manhattan) at the surface of the sun in an attempt to return it to it’s normal state.

    Actually, it’s the second attempt – the previous mission failed, or was never heard from again. Which means that all of earths resources have been used up in creating the ship and bomb for this second attempt… more pressure anyone?

    The cast work extremely well together, and — if you pay attention to teh dialogue — the ending (which seems to be a bone of contention for some) is completely explained.

    I don’t know what else to say Macca, except that even if you hate the film, you wont hate it for the reasons that you currently think you may… if that makes sense.

  • Well, since you put it that way…

    One bad experience can affect your judgement and taint your decisions. I will give sunshine a go as soon as it comes out on video.

    But if I see one Anderson-esque type scene, I’m turning the thing off and sending it back to the shop!!

  • Well, let me put it this way dude – when people start dying in a Paul Anderson film, it’s good news because it means that it’s one less person you have to NOT care about.

    Where as, you *feel* for every one of the characters in Danny Boyle’s films… I mean, hell, he made the best non-zombie zombie film ever! Surely that buys him a bucket full of credit!?

    BTW, I’m pretty sure that Sunshine will be sitting on the shelf at JB when you get there!

  • Seen 28 days – not 28 weeks. I’ve heard that the second one was just a shameless sequel that only traded off the good name of the first move (as well as a borrowed theme)…

    Thoroughly enjoyed 28 days; thought it had a bit of the Omega man about it.

    Looking forward to Legend.

  • I’m confused elroy.

    You say its been released? I haven’t seen it at JB :( I want I want but I cant get it.

  • Try Blockbuster Morgs

  • Sunshine is just awesome. Watch it. Danny Boyle is a truly breathtaking director which makes Sunshine more than just a perfunctory exercise in the ‘ohmygodsomeguyjustgotsuckedouttheairlock’ genre.

    And I won’t hear a bad word about 28 Weeks Later, Macca! Sure, it wasn’t as brilliant as the original film but it built on the mythology, spawned a pretty damn good comic book and looks like it’s paved the way for a third film.

  • it still hasn’t seen a stateside release, elroy. i have no idea why, either. looks like we might have to wait 18 months after all…

  • I’m pretty sure that it’s been released *to rent* everywhere – but It still isn’t available (officially) to buy yet. That said, if you’re lucky you may find a major movie-rental chain store that is selling copies early. I was in blockbuster just last night and they had half a dozen copies for sale (and about 2 dozen for rent).

  • it is definitely not out yet here. every rental place doesn’t have it (some people haven’t even heard of it) and every online website indicates it has yet to be released, not to mention every zip code search on blockbuster and hollywood video websites reveals that sunshine is not yet carried in those locations. i’ve heard rumors of legal issues, but who knows. if its been released everywhere but the us, what could possibly be the legal issue? i’m getting close to just buying one from the uk and changing my region on my laptop to watch it.