Before you dive into the world of the OASIS, learn how the Earth-bound team crafted an otherworldly experience.
After celebrating the world premiere of his film at SXSW earlier this month, Academy Award-winner Steven Spielberg presents his Ready Player One to audiences worldwide this weekend. Based on the 2011 novel by Ernest Cline, Spielberg's nostalgia-soaked sci-fi adaptation is set in two places people rarely travel: the virtual world known as the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation) and the all-too-real Columbus, Ohio. What's at stake? Complete control of the fictional reality! A budding romance may be in the cards too.
The film has already been deemed a custom-built cinematic geek-out for children of the 1980s, and it will be interesting to see if the pop appeal can crossover to an even younger generation; the film feels made for the Reagan/H.W. Bush generation that grew up on Spielberg movies. Its special effects look first-rate, incorporating intricate motion capture within a fictional world that appears birthed out of a utopia funded by Nintendo and Mattel. The screenplay was written by Marvel go-to screenwriter Zak Penn, and at first glance, it appears that his narrative instincts mesh perfectly with that of the source material.
To celebrate the film's opening, we've put together a video playlist featuring behind-the-scenes footage, a few solid interviews related to the project, and some other fun watches that tie into the film and the work of America's most iconic director.
Visualizing a fictional reality
Although brief, there are a few good BTS clips sprinkled throughout this EPK created by IMAX. The production design for Ready Player One was, of course, a rather complicated endeavour—creating two distinct worlds is one heck of an undertaking—and we get a glimpse of the magnitude of the process here. On a side note, it always requires a bit of a double take when you see a director, dressed in contemporary fashion from hat to Canada Goose jacket, on set directing a cast and crew placed within a hyper-stylized, futuristic mise en scène.
Spielberg serves as both director and original inspiration on Ready Player One
In a conversation between Ernest Cline and screenwriter Zak Penn held at SXSW for the film's premiere, the novelist and screenwriter both admitted to the meta qualities apparent with having Spielberg, a filmmaker who constructed much of the two writers' own storytelling capabilities, direct Ready Player One. As moderator Aisha Tyler described, the production can be traced back to "a guy inspiring Cline to write a book for Penn to make a movie that the guy then directs," and so Spielberg plays both director and story inspiration.
In what must have a been an uncanny experience accompanied by a heavy dose of giddiness, Cline is thrilled with a particular shot in the new film that he finds eerily similar to a shot in E.T., Spielberg's 1982 sci-fi classic. In the video above, he recounts the surreal moment.
Spielberg found video games to be a thrill (with slight reservation) even in their infancy
In this fun cultural relic from 1982 (is it a promotional video originally created for Poltergeist?), Spielberg is shown playing Donkey Kong and discussing how video games are both cathartic devices that provide a real high as well as displays of egotistical power. It's a lighthearted video, but Spielberg's words express some real concern for the addictive nature of gaming culture. As new worlds are created on a daily basis, what if we chose to literally (and voluntarily) lose ourselves within them?
While Ready Player One was inspired by video games, here are the video games that were inspired by Spielberg
In this oldie-but-goodie video from the Angry Video Game Nerd (James Rolfe), take a deep-dive into the now-archaic video games of the 1980s and 90s that served as tie-ins to Spielberg's most popular titles. Yes, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Hook, and even E.T. received the clumsy video game adaptation treatment that, as the Nerd proves clear, prompted consumers to choose to rewatch the classic films over having to sit through these 8-bit misfires.
Video game adaptations of Spielberg's canon have improved recently—the gameplay for the soon-to-be-released Jurassic World: Evolution looks pretty strong—but things were not always so rosy. Warning: The above video is completely hilarious and yet NSFW.
The director-to-cinematographer relationship can be as exact or hands-off as the collaborators choose
A longtime collaborator of Steven Spielberg over the past 25 years (beginning with Schindler's List, for which both director and cinematographer took home Academy Awards), Janusz Kaminski has redefined the visual style of the director's filmography for a quarter-of-a-century. What's the secret to their working relationship?
Hearing Kaminski speaking about his art in extremely logistical, practical terms is quite refreshing, and as the video provided by AFI proves, he's a straight shooter: "For me, it's the best way to work. I like to be left alone. Just let me do my work. That's why I was hired. You trusted in your instincts to hire me. Let me do my work!" Kaminski's work can currently be seen in Ready Player One, his 20th collaboration with Spielberg.