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You probably have already watched the first trailer for Zack Snyder's film Sucker Punch and said to yourself, "Holy crap, how is that all going to be part of the same movie?" Rest assured the audience that saw even more footage from the film at Comic Con was asking themselves the same thing, so when a small group of other journalists and I caught up with Snyder last Saturday, we made sure to pester him about details from Sucker Punch, his violent fantasia about girls dreaming of escape from a mental hospital.
He complied more than we ever could have imagined. Talking alongside his wife and producer Deborah Snyder, Zack revealed maybe more than he was supposed to-- I don't know for sure, of course, since I haven't seen the movie, but if you want to go into Sucker Punch unspoiled you might want to avoid this interview. For the rest of you, though, the ones who want to hear about the movie's Wizard of Oz elements and prostitution angle, keep right on reading. Given how much is crammed into the trailer that's still unexplained, we're guessing this is just the very beginning of what Sucker Punch has in store.
Zack: No, I don't dream like that. That's what our movie is about, for me anyway. One of the mechanisms of the film is that when Baby fantasizes, or closes her eyes or whatever you want to call it, there are adventure parallels. A little adventure that they're doing in reality, a super-small one. For instance, they need to steal a lighter that has a dragon etched on it, from a dude. It's the simplest thing ever. That's what they're really doing. Baby's version of it is what you see--she closes her eyes, they go to a another world, they fight a dragon, they have a B-25 as a jet engine, they finally slit the baby dragon's throat and then steal the fire. She ends up killing the dragon and when the music ends, that object has been stolen. There's this super-simple straightforward procedural part of it, but when she does fantasize it's a fantasy. I just used my own imagination as a template. They do dream big I guess.
How much of the movie is made up of these fantasy sequences and how much takes place in the real world?
Deborah: There's four [fantasy sequences]. There's kind of three levels of reality. Basically the real world is bookended, almost like Wizard of Oz. I always think of if that way.
Zack: So Baby is committed to the insane asylum by her father, who wants her lobotomized so she won't be able to tell the police what he's done to her. He pays the evil orderly. It's going to take a little while because they don't have a lobotomy doctor there who can do it, so in five days they're going to do it. In those five days she comes up with a plan to escape. She wants to get out before that happens. That's really the story of the movie, that she can help these girls, and these girls want to help her to get out. Somewhere along the way she starts imagining that this insane asylum is a brothel, and she's a virgin--
Deborah: And in five days she's going to be deflowered.
So that's where all the Internet chatter about prostitution came from.
Zack: Exactly. In that reality, the shows the girls do are the shows they do for the men that come to that club. Because she isn't a performer yet, she doesn't work int he club. Mrs. Gorsky wants to train her to dance. She's real shy, so each one of the fantasy is her leaning more about-- she closes her eyes whenever she dances. We never see her dance, but what we see is the fantasy.
But the fantasy has repercussions in the world of reality? Deborah: Everything ripples back to reality.
Zack: What I tried to do is fuck with that too, because I didn't want to be one of those procedural things where they say, "If I stab your leg, your leg starts bleeding in reality!" I was aware of that convention, and I wanted to fuck with it. It's one of the main rules of dream-making movies.
Deborah: At the end of the day it's, when things are so bad, how do you cope with that? Where do you go? A lot of times you'll visualize somewhere else. Baby Doll finds strength. She goes to a different place and each time she seems to get a little bit more strength and a little bit more strength.
Zack: Scott Glenn is kind of her Yoda.
How awesome is Scott Glenn?
Zack: He is totally awesome. He is the most awesome person on the planet. He'll say like, "Listen Zack, we're going to do the ADR, but I've gotta go, I'm flying out to Hawaii to do deep-sea spearfishing." But not bullshit either-- I would tell that as bullshit. 'And then on the way back I've got my new leathers for my Ducati, then I'm gonna go shoot some machine guns." And I'm like, "OK, you're the most awesome person ever."
Zack: It's just awesome.
Deborah: There's a significance in the bunny as well. A lot of things play into elements of reality. The bunny is actually Baby Doll's sister's toy that's on her bed. Something tragic happens to her, so it's very haunting.
Zack: But the mecha itself is just awesome.
How many genres are crammed into this movie? Or rather, which genres aren't in here?
Zack: Romantic comedy. There's not a Western. English period piece-- hang on [thinks about it for a minute] no.
The decision not to do it in 3D seems like a pretty hard thing to get away with.
Zack: For me, we didn't want this movie to feel like it was made in a boardroom, because it really wasn't. Warner Bros. has given us an awesome opportunity, and they themselves didn't want to cheapen that. I really believe that.
Deborah: They saw the first visuals and they really didn't need it. They said, this will hurt us more than it will help us. We really didn't have faith that we could do it, especially after working on Guardians, which is made in 3D.
Zack: And it's awesome 3D. Once we've been spoiled by this baked-in 3D that we created for the Guardians, to go and do a half-assed…. This is how good it can be.