You may think that 9 is all about ragdolls surviving the end of the world — but actually it's about the people you deal with every day, says producer Timur Bekmambetov. Plus your first look at his Russian superhero film!
We got a chance to sit down with Bekmambetov, director of Night Watch, Day Watch and Wanted, about his role as producer of Shane Acker's 9, which opens tomorrow night. Bekmambetov says he fell in love with Acker's short film (with the same title) back in 2005, when his partner Gene Levy sent him a DVD while he was at the Berlin Film Festival. Says Bekmambetov, "It was like a door sliding open, and you see a little bit of the world behind the walls. You want to see much more." He decided to help make this short film into a feature-length picture, just so he could see more of that mysterious world of ragdolls and deadly machines.
Bekmambetov says 9 has his sensibility and he feels "very connected" to that whole world that Acker has created.
And 9 really is about your real life and the people around you. Wherever you go, there are people playing the same roles. In 9, the dictator is ragdoll #1, who's sort of like Morgan Freeman's character in Wanted.
In our society, in our lives, in our mind... to understand the world, we create the roles. Like dictator, friend, girl, and the crazy guy... And what Shane did, he just created these characters fulfill these archetypes. And I grew up in a small town. And I think it's important for children to grow up in a small place, because then the world is solid. You know everything about this world from the beginning. There was one mad man — one crazy guy, everybody knows him — one prostitute, one policeman, one good guy, one superman. It was exactly the same. Every role has one representative. It's the same as 9, every character represents part of your [worldview]. I think the audience will really understand who is a dictator — who is a 1 — in their lives, who is the friend — 2 — who is a 7, the girl. It's easy to identify.
And yes, there's only one female ragdoll in the movie. Although, says Bekmambetov, "We don't know about 3 and 4, they are twins, children."
You might think 9 is a very dark film, what with the killing machines and desperate ragdolls and all. But Bekmambetov says it's actually a "very bright movie" with a dramatic contrast between brightness and darkness. Think of it like a Rembrandt picture, with bright figures standing out against a dark background. Sure, there are horrible machines, but there are also love, friendship and heroic characters, and people sacrificing themselves for the sake of good.
And that's exactly what we all do in real life, says Bekmambetov: try to survive and hold on to our beliefs.
Also, Bekmambetov revealed he's already finished filming his next Russian movie — a superhero movie. "The Russian audience is very excited and waiting for it." It's the film we mentioned a while back, about the flying black car, tentatively called Black Lightning. He says "It reminds me of some American movies, like Spider-Man, but because it's in Russian it's so different... It's the same idea, but because there's a totally different environment you feel like it's totally unique."
Bekmambetov says superheroes remain popular because they're really new versions of the same archetypes we've been dealing with for thousands of years, dating back to Greek tragedies. "We cannot create new stories, we're just changing environment and changing consciousness and rearranging things."