joe kosinski

Director Joseph Kosinski had listened to M83’s “Unrecorded” back in 2005 when he first drafted the treatment for his graphic novel, Oblivion, the grand-scaled sci-fi adventure which has now been adapted into a big-budget motion picture starring one of the biggest movie stars in the world, Tom Cruise.

M83 (a.k.a. Anthony Gonzalez) was relatively unknown back then, and when Kosinksi started putting the pieces of the puzzle together for this adaptation, he remembered the awesome experience he had collaborating with Daft Punk on the Tron:Legacy score. “I kind of wanted to find an artist from outside the film business and try to bring him in to create a film score,” he says, “and Anthony had always wanted to do a film score. So we met, talked about it, and I showed him some imagery, explained the story.” Kosinski then paired the electronic artist with Joe Trapanese, the composer from Legacy , and the result is a score that sounds original, different, and provocative all at once, combining drum kits, orchestras, and even a full choir.

For the director, the “purest form of cinema” is watching imagery mash up with a haunting score (like in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a major influence in Kosinski’s filmmaking). “I love those moments, and there are a couple of moments where we get to do that in Oblivion.” He notes a scene in which Jack (Cruise), a drone repairman stationed on a post-apocalyptic Earth, and his partner, Vika (Andrea Riseborough), swim in a glass-bottomed pool high atop a skytower station while the M83 track accompanies the wordless interaction. It’s a gorgeous sequence that stands out as a breathtaking visual.

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Kosinski wrote the first version of the story in 2005 with the intention of it being his first film to direct. But it got postponed when Disney came knocking with an offer to launch the sequel to a 1982 cult hit about a videogame designer trapped in his own creation. Now, having completed his passion project on Oblivion, he is proud of the accomplishment and what it involved, especially traveling to Iceland, New York, and New Orleans and shooting on panoramic landscapes.

Oblivion represents a return to serious, adult-themed sci-fi, a genre that seemed to have lost its way over the past decade, thanks in part to an influx of comic-book adaptations and prepackaged franchises. And Kosinski seems to have created an original universe that both challenges and entertains moviegoers.

“You don’t want to make a confusing movie,” he says. “I wanted to make sure people understood the story which isn’t a straightforward story in terms of the context of watching the movie…but I love movies that ask big questions but don’t necessarily answer everything. I like people walking out thinking about something, and I wanted this to be a movie that people talk about and debate and argue over and discuss. Hopefully great science-fiction films help you think about issues that relate to yourself.”

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Oblivion hits theaters April 17.

Hiko Mitsuzuka (@TheFirstEcho)