the vfx show #187: Lucy

Mike Seymour, Mark Christiansen and Jason Diamond discuss the story and visual effects of the Luc Besson film, Lucy, and also delve into the VFX of other recent Scarlett Johansson films Under the Skin and Her.

Show Notes:

Cinematographer — Thierry Arbogast
Production Designer — Hugues Tissandier

Overall Production VFX Supervisor — Nicholas Brooks
ILM — Richard Bluff
Rodeo — François Dumoulin
Digital Factory

Luc Besson filmography

Arri Alexa XT Plus

Red Epic

Alex Kim

Capturing the Infinite Universe in “Lucy” – Fractal Rendering in Film Production

Lucy Official Movie Clip – Car Chase

An Interview with Geoff McFetridge on the Interfaces from Her


1 thought on “the vfx show #187: <em>Lucy</em>”

  1. A great show as always. Personally, I like the banter…but may be I’m biased. Under the Skin was one of the movies I was most excited for this year. I had read the book by Michael Faber. The novel was his debut work and is a really fun read. Faber’s style creates a compelling story that is both a quick read, a serious exploration of alienation, desire and what it means to be human. An artful balance.

    The main character in the book is named Isserly (the Scarlett Johanson role) and we are introduced to her in the book without any background knowledge. Who is Isserly, and why is she driving the roads of Scotland looking for men? Like the film, the narrative in the book slowly unfolds one layer at a time until the truth of Isserly and her “work” on Earth is revealed. In the book there are a number of other characters that work with her on a remote farm after she captures her prey. Isserly has been surgically altered by her people to look human. This creates issues for her that seem like a thinly veiled reference to female body image issues. She has a male counterpart on the farm who is also “altered” while the bulk of her people live and work underground in an industrial farming-like environment.

    In the book, one night the son of the “boss” of the alien corporation that Isserly is working for arrives at the farm from his home planet. His alien beauty, his questionable actions and discussions with Isserly begin to go deeper into Isserly’s psychology and feelings about what they are doing to the lonely human men she picks up. The same questions of identity, humanity and “alienation” permeate the novel. There is a good deal of subtle humor in the book as well.

    Director Jonathan Glazer takes the book as a starting point for his third feature film. Glazer’s previous films were “Sexy Beast” and “Birth”, both very strong and fascinating films as well. In “Under the Skin” Glazer has created his most interesting and experimental work to date. I think Jason, Mike and Mark were dead on the money in saying that the opening of the film was almost Kubrickian. I agree that its an “odd” film and has an unusual narrative structure. Does this film stand alone? I think so. Glazers distinctive style and use of an almost invisible documentary style during the driving scenes is mesmerizing.

    But as with many filmic adaptations, several liberties are taken in the film that depart from the novel. The man on the motorcycle who we see throughout the film and whom Mike was saying we see at the end standing on the rock (a direct reference to the Casper David Fredrich painting “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog”) is really a conglomeration of the other “alien” characters in the book. I think he represents Isserly’s polar opposite. While there are scenes where he appears to help her, he doesn’t seem to suffer from the same moral quandary. The incident with the young child and family at the stormy beach seems to be the first point of departure for Isserly in the film and her interaction with the deformed young man and her desire to set him free is her final act of contrition.

    The visual effects of both the goo, the flattened humans (in the book they are being prepared as a delicacy for alien consumption) and the final alien reveal (which doesn’t happen that way in the novel) are great, subtle work that makes for a fun, albiet dark film. I really enjoyed it and Johanssen is so much fun to watch in most any role.

    Just thought I’d put in my two cents on this one as it was a film I was really looking forward to this Summer. If anyone out there saw it, liked it and wants a little more, check out the novel. Its a quick read and pretty entertaining.


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