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The Sun in Sunshine

Published July 19, 2007 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Fox Searchlight.
Sunshine Poster Sunshine
Danny Boyle just made a movie about the sun, so he spent a lot of time with sunspots on the brain. Sunshine is the story of an astronaut mission to reignite a dying sun with a nuclear bomb. It's science-fiction, but Boyle wanted to get the science right.

Danny Boyle on the Sun of Sunshine


"I just started straight away because that’s what’s unusual about it, the idea of going to the sun," said Boyle. "So I started immediately looking at it, and I tend to start really, really start way back. I start with books and photographs, that’s what I tend to gather and spend a fortune collating them. I have a huge kind of collection, so I either resource through them or go out and buy new. As soon as you start to delve into it, you start to feel yourself get lost into it and that’s a good sign. Cause that’s one of the things the film is about is your mind as you try to take on board the enormity, the power, the extraordinary thing it is."

Part of the sun's mythology is cultural, an aspect that we may have lost in this modern day. "We clearly take it for granted, and if you look at our ancestors up until the last couple hundred years, it’s absolutely everything in people’s lives. People sacrificed lives to it, people built culture around it, everything was dictated by the rhythm of it returning in the morning. All theories based upon its absence, darkness, when it goes away, people are frightened. Will it come back, and when it comes back, people celebrate. Spring, culture is built, all our lives are built around this rhythm. And we have forgotten about it."


Technically, Boyle learned all the numbers. "The surface of the sun is actually 15,000 degrees centigrade. As you go inside, it goes up to 15 million degrees centigrade, it’s that unbelievable. But surface is 15,000 degrees and that’s actually a temperature they do create on Earth. You can create 15,000 degrees centigrade. And in fact, there’s a lot of machinery that will operate. We have a lot of machinery that will operate at certain temperatures not approaching that, but half-way to that. They can operate machinery."

So maybe the idea of the film is not so far fetched. "They have a satellite that goes around the sun, between Mercury and the sun. It flies between there, photographing it. So it is possible for them and they use gold leaf actually, these gold leaves to deflect the sun. So it is impossible to go up to it, but it’s not impossible to get reasonably close to it. The thing that would kill you, humans, is radiation, is the electromagnetic radiation that would kill you. But you could send robots and that’s presumably what we do. If there was a circumstance like this and we had to do something critical at those certain places beyond Mercury, we’d send robots, I would think. We’d develop robots and send them."

Sunshine opens to theaters tomorrow, July 20th.

For the trailer, clips, posters and more movie info, go to the Sunshine Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Fox Searchlight.
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