While we often take it for granted in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, one look at the sky should make it pretty obvious why primitive cultures once worshiped the sun. That is why it is not surprising that the nearest star to us has been a prominent figure in the story all the way from Egyptian mythology to the present day. Superman clicks.
While the sun is commonly seen as a symbol of life and hope, our dependence on the sun has also inspired several horror stories of not being able to rely on its warmth anymore. When it comes to movies, there is a certain underrated sci-fi movie that masterfully explores this particular kind of space horror while also serving as an interesting dive into the darker side of space travel. Naturally I mean Danny Boylethriller 2007 sunlightwhich is currently celebrating its 15th anniversary.
For those who haven’t seen sunlight follows a group of astronauts on a desperate mission to revive our dying sun after a previous attempt mysteriously failed. On their arduous journey to the center of the solar system, the aptly named Icarus II receives a distress signal from its ill-fated predecessor. After a narrow vote, the team decides to investigate the anomaly, taking a risky detour that could endanger the fate of humanity.
Once again directing a screenplay from an acclaimed genre writer (and now from an acclaimed director) Alex Garland, sunlight was Danny Boyle’s attempt to revitalize the psychologically oriented sci-fi stories of the 60s and 70s while also challenging himself within a notoriously difficult genre. Borrowings from the classics 2001: Space Odyssey as well as Solaristhe film was intended to explore the human implications of these scientific breakthroughs rather than the science fiction spectacle itself.
This emphasis on the subjective side of the genre also influenced the decision to feature a diverse cast: the film brought together a formidable group of talented playwrights to fill Icarus II. From our physicist protagonist Capa (played by Cillian Murphy in his second collaboration with Boyle after 28 days later) to Cliff Curtis‘ the introspective Dr. Searle, these characters are believable as a desperate group of specialists forced to work together for the greater good. Even the incredibly talented Michelle Yeoh appears as the team’s permanent nerd, as well as pre-MCU (but post-Fantastic Four) Chris Evans.
With the exception of Murphy, which makes sense given that Capa is portrayed as a misunderstood loner, the actors actually lived together before and during filming, immersed in their characters. During this process, the actors benefited from detailed backstories written by Gia Milinovichexploring exciting details such as Mace’s (Evans’) unspoken romantic feelings for Cassie (Rose Byrne) and expanding the motivation of the characters. It’s honestly a pity that many of these elements didn’t make it into the finished picture, as they would have made the team’s ultimate sacrifice all the more impressive.
Of course, I’d say the film’s biggest achievement is how it plays with the genre’s expectations, seamlessly transitioning from sci-fi to psychological drama and even incorporating slasher elements towards the end of the film. While not exactly a traditional horror film, it has undeniable Ridley Scott flavors. Alien and even a bit of John Carpenter is scattered throughout the picture, so I think horror fans will like it.
In fact, the film’s controversial decision to dive into horror during its final act ended up alienating some viewers upon release, but I think it was a bold move that perfectly complements the script’s musings on nihilism and spirituality. From the antagonist’s sun-induced madness to the bizarre visual filter surrounding his horrific burns (as if the movie suggests that reality itself is distorting around Mark Strongcrazy character), there are a lot of elements here that would fit Lovecraft’s story that makes Danny Boyle sunlight quite a literal champion of cosmic horror.
These existential fears are balanced by hauntingly beautiful moments like Kaneda’s tragic death and a trippy but emotional ending. sunlight also boasts some truly iconic sci-fi images, with the photography particularly making extensive use of color, often bathing melancholic scenes in an eerie amber glow. Naturally, the film also contains a lot of “sci-fi porn” with spectacular spacewalks and futuristic technology often brought to life through optical tricks and clever set design rather than CGI.
Impressive visuals are also enhanced by another phenomenal score John Murphy (in his fifth collaboration with Boyle) along with an electronic music group underworld. Similar to Murphy’s work in 28 days laterthings Sunlight’The soundtrack has taken on a life of its own in other media as other creators have used the film’s music for their own purposes. Not only was Adagio in D minor (also known as Sun surface) introduced in 2009 Kick assbut recently he appeared at Patty Jenkins. Wonder Woman 1984once again demonstrating the resilience of this amazing soundtrack.
While some elements of the script don’t hold water, such as the story’s heavy reliance on plot twists and supposedly smart characters acting like spoiled teenagers rather than professional astronauts, I think there’s an artistry to the experience that basically makes up for most of those issues. It’s always clear that Boyle is having a lot of fun with such an extraordinarily large budget, experimenting with camera settings and effects in the most imaginative ways. This unbridled creativity doesn’t always work, but the result is a film that’s consistently entertaining, even when it stumbles. It’s also hard to deny the surreal beauty of the film’s last moments, which I believe are on par with sci-fi epics like Interstellar as well as Moon.
sunlight It may not be Danny Boyle’s greatest opus, but I think it’s a prime example of cosmic horror done right and definitely one of my favorites in the director’s eclectic filmography. As a fan of meaty science fiction, I’ve come to the conclusion that petty scientific inaccuracies and far-fetched plot twists are often out of place when dealing with compelling concepts like advanced theoretical physics and metaphysical interpretations of God, and as such, I would recommend this ambitious book. a thriller for any fan of existential horror even after 15 years.