Duncan Jones Interview
Duncan Jones Interview
I was thinking Groundhog Day and 12 Monkeys as the main sources. Did you look at those at all?

Duncan Jones

Oh, right. Oh, sorry – I forgot about them. [Laughs] Well, I knew both of those films pretty well – I didn't watch them again in the build-up to making the movie. I mean obviously the conceit of Source Code is very similar to both of those films. And a number of others, to be honest, but those are fair references. I am a big Gilliam fan, of course - I've met him a few times and I'm a huge admirer of his. [In Source Code] we have this environment called the Pod, this sort of holding area that Colter finds himself in and that was really my opportunity to get a little bit visually, you know, Gilliam, on it.
Did you cut anything out that you hated to lose?

Duncan Jones

Uh, no. Jake was going to be just finishing Prince of Persia and then starting the Prince of Persia press, and we kind of had to shoot our film in that pocket of time. And because of that, we were really having to compress everything down and shooting the bare essentials of what we needed to make the film work. There wasn't really extra time to shoot anything else, so I think pretty much everything that was in the script we managed to get into our cut of the film.
It strikes me as the kind of film that might have gone through multiple endings, so was that not the case then?

Duncan Jones

There was one, there was one other ending that the producers really wanted to see and to test. And I wasn't a big fan of it but we did it for them and that was a very romantic and in my opinion, slightly sappy, ending where Christina and Colter kind of disappear onto a happy ever after and then the credits roll. And it just didn't feel particularly effective to me.
Is that basically just without the end sequence?

Duncan Jones

Yes, that's without the end sequence. We did a test of that and then we did a test of what I call “my” ending – which is the one that's in the cinemas – and the reactions to the romantic ending were, ‘Meh,’ you know. It was just kind of, 'Oh, that's alright.' And then the reaction to my ending was either people were incredibly excited and psyched by it or baffled and wanting to talk about it. So to me, that was the better reaction. I'd rather have that than ‘Meh.’
It's a homage to Grand Theft Auto - a guy who gets multiple attempts to complete a mission...
Do you have a favourite scene in the film?

Duncan Jones

Well, on a purely technical level, the scene of Jake jumping off the train was a real opportunity for me to try and push a boundary on the effects side that I hadn't seen in any other film. We achieved it, I think it looks great and it is a shot that no-one else has done before. And it's a homage to Grand Theft Auto, the computer game. So it's fun in that respect too, because I think one of the other things about the film is that it is about a guy who gets multiple attempts to complete a mission and that's a computer game. As someone who plays games, that was another reference that seemed very natural to the film.
What was the hardest scene to film?

Duncan Jones

One of the most pathetic, really. One of the least challenging in appearance. Just the exteriors at the train station. We were shooting in Montreal in the spring and the weather was completely chaotic – it would be cloudy and raining and then bright sunshine and you know, the sun's obviously moving across the sky so your shadows are moving all the time and we only had four days to. It was just a nightmare, having to try and find ways to make the weather work for us.

I have a big question, which is where is Sean at the end of the film?

Duncan Jones

I can tell you now that the film's out. Actually, Ben, who wrote the script, came up with the best answer to that at South By Southwest. He said, “Sean is dead.” [Laughs] So, basically, at the end of the film you've got Colter Stevens, he's in a box at the facility where Goodwin and Rutledge work; he's got this manifestation, this understanding of where he is, which is how he communicates with Goodwin. And he says, “Send me back, I want to get one last shot at this – I at least want to stop the train from blowing up for these passengers.” She agrees, she sends him in there.

So he is now in a parallel reality, because, little do Goodwin and Rutledge truly understand, the source code that they think is only creating eight minutes of the past is in fact creating parallel realities and every time they use the source code they create a new parallel reality which continues off in time. So basically, every time they do it and Colter fails, they've just created a new terrorist attack which kills hundreds of people. They might want to be aware of that next time. Anyway this final time, they send Colter Stevens in, he goes on the train, he disarms the bomb, he's successful, the train never blows up, which means obviously that there's a Colter Stevens who lives in that reality who has never been sent on a mission to stop the train blowing up, because it never blew up. So there's now two versions of Colter Stevens.
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