I went to a peculiar thing on Friday night, a ‘blogger’s screening’ of the new Danny Boyle film Sunshine. Why peculiar? Well, before the movie started, a representative of 20th Centrury Fox stood up and told us that while we were a) encouraged to write about the film, we were b) under no circumstances to actually review it.

So it’s with this ambiguity ringing in my ears that I write this post. And instead of bringing you prose pertaining to plot-line and performance, I’ve decided to exclusively reveal the top five things I learnt during the film.

1. It’s actually possible to get much closer to the sun than scientists have previously thought. In fact, it’s possible to get really close without suffering from much more than a extreme case of eczema and a desperate need for anger management therapy.
2. Seats at the preview theatre in Soho Square are much more comfortable than those at normal, proletariat cinemas.
3. The guy who plays Searle is the spitting image of Kirendip, who works in my office. FACT.
4. The movie credits reveal the presence of a so-called ‘Science Advisor’. I suspect that this role isn’t a serious position, but more of an attempt to lend some credibility to one of the most wildly ludicrous plots ever committed to celluloid. I’m not saying that wildly ludicrous is necessarily bad – and Sunshine is a decent, beautiful-looking film – but there’s really no need to dress it up in some crazy cloak of plausibility. It just doesn’t fit; the key part of the phrase ‘science fiction’ is the second, not the first.
5. If you’re flying through space, and a member of your crew is the subject of a suicide watch, it’s probably best not to leave them unattended in a room full of scalpels.

In summary, I quite like being invited to sample free stuff I’m not required to write about. So if anyone wants to book me gratis flights to Spain and a table at el Bulli, I’m all ears.


  1. “…but in the end you have to abandon certain elements and just go for what is dramatically effective.”

    Exactly. And if you have to abandon the science, why the pretense? I don’t care how inaccurate the fim is – it’s entertainment, and it’s fantasy, and that’s all. As Dr Brian says, his expertise was used for the back story, not the plot… and my point was that the plot was ludicrous. And this, IMHO, renders any ‘science’ attached to the rest of the movie pretty much irrelevant, however well-grounded.

    I’m glad we’re in agreement that bloggers shouldn’t be ‘required’ to write about free stuff… I don’t like the idea either.

  2. I was invited to this screening but couldn’t go.

    You aren’t attending the 300 screening, by any chance?

  3. No, I only invited to these things once every fifteen years or so…

  4. booze and fingerfood included?

  5. Oh yes. It was quite the feast.

  6. Not a “fraser” style feast, though, I expect ;-)

  7. “And if you have to abandon the science, why the pretense? I don\’t care how inaccurate the fim is – it\’s entertainment, and it\’s fantasy, and that\’s all. As Dr Brian says, his expertise was used for the back story, not the plot… and my point was that the plot was ludicrous.”

    Ahhh, but I think the way Danny and Alex work is that they like to completely immerse themselves in their story and the themes surrounding it. Watch the extras on 28 Days Later and you will see *not* a ‘Making of 28 Days Later’ short, but a documentary on diseases. That’s just what they do when they make films.

    Now, I don’t know how much they got into the backstory of ‘Rage’ in 28DL, but knowing what they were like w Sunshine, I’d suspect they had various biologists and medical researchers around them at all times just talking about possible scenarios where the whole of the UK could be wiped out. The biology of 28 Days Later was as “ludicrous” as the theoretical physics of Sunshine… still ‘scary made-up diseases’ seem to bother people more than the fact that we don’t know what 95% of the Universe is made of…

    There’s no pretense that the Sun *actually* is going to die in 50 years time – ‘Sunshine’ isn’t ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, but they are sooooo into science that they like to use the film as a platform to talk about it… and in the case of ‘Sunshine’ they’ve also used the film itself to make a very important point about the role of science generally.

  8. Why go so close to the sun if you can’t look at it without your eyes melting in their sockets?

  9. I enjoyed it. It looks great. The performances are OK. If you’re into claustrophobic space movies, you’ll probably like it. Think of it as a cross between Alien and Event Horizon: not as good as either, but still definitely worth a look.

  10. I was about to book you a flight but then i found out that there’s not a table available at el Bulli until next year…
    Hope you’re well!