Read two scene descriptions from Spike Jonze's upcoming sci-fi flick "Her"
Last Friday, I told you that Scarlett Johansson had replaced Samantha Morton in HER due to a creative difference concerning the character. Morton and Jonze are still friends as indicated by the director but Morton's take was not what he wanted for the role of the computer Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with.
This all happened right before this Saturday when the first footage of the sci-fi flick was unveiled to a crowd at the Los Angeles Film Festival. /Film was on hand to see the footage and take some notes for those of us who couldn't be there. Jonze (never calling the film "HER") said this before showing two scenes, "This is a movie we’re still finishing. There are some scenes we still want to do, a couple scenes we’re writing that we want to shoot."
The first scene is Theodore installing OS1 into his computer. It’s a big, white, widescreen monitor with a red screen and a symbol that looks like two figure eights on top of each other. Theodore is wearing a red shirt, visually linking him with the computer from early on. The film is set in Los Angeles in the "slight future" and is centered on, "a man who has just purchased OS1, the world’s first artificially intelligent computer operating system and, over the course of the film, he’ll fall in love with it."
In a male voice, OS1 explains it would like to ask him a few questions. “Are you social or anti-social?” “Would you like a male or female voice?” “How would you describe your relationship with your mother?” “How are you hoping an OS can make your life easier?” To each question, Theodore answers with an almost puzzled, hesitant tone, confused why the computer is asking these personal questions. At one point it even responds “In your voice I sense hesitance. Would you agree with that?” Later, it simply starts cutting his rambling off, seemingly getting more information from his cadence than content. Finally, it says it’s ready and the system restarts.
“Hello, I’m here,” says the voice of Scarlett Johansson. Happy, bright, very much the opposite of Theodore’s. They engage in small talk (“Hi, how are you?” “Pretty good actually, it’s nice to meet you.”) until Theodore asks the OS if it has a name. “Yes. Samantha,” she replies. “Where you get that name from?” he asks. “I gave it to myself, actually.” “When did you give it to yourself?” “Right when you asked me if I had a name I thought, ‘Yeah that’s right I do need a name, but I want to pick a good one.’ So I read a book called ‘How To Name Your Baby’ and out of 180,000 names that’s the one I liked the best.” “Wait, you read a whole book in the second I asked you what your name ones?” “In two one-hundredths of a second, actually.”
From there, she explains how she works and that she’s constantly evolving through experience and input. “Is that weird? Do you think I’m weird?” she asks. They go on to do some sorting of his emails and you get a real sense of personality and passion from the Samantha character, even in this early scene. She’s irresistible, attentive, smart, even funny. There’s just the small issue that she’s inside a computer…and doesn’t exist.
The second scene is tonally very different, but equally delightful. It starts on a beach and we see Theodore looking at something with a few lens flares. He’s smiling. We realize this is Samantha’s point of view as he’s brought her, in a small portable almost iPod form (see Phoenix’s pocket in the photo above), to the beach. A light piano motif is playing and Theodore asks what it is. “I’m trying to write a piece of music about what it feels like to be on the beach with you right now,” she whispers. “I think you captured it,” he responds.
Next they’re travelling. Theodore has an ear-piece in, so he can carry on a conversation. “So what was it like being married?” Samantha asks. Theodore’s thoughtful response is intercut with a montage of he and a character played by Rooney Mara. We’re unsure what happened at this point, just that they are no longer together. Samantha asks how it’s possible to share your life with somebody. More simple piano music sets a somber, romantic tone as Theodore reminisces on what was right and how it went wrong. He talks about how he and his ex influenced each other, inspired each other, grew together and eventually grew apart.
Finally, Samantha tells Theodore her feelings were hurt last week when he said she didn’t know what it felt like to lose something. He apologizes, she says it’s okay, and then says “I caught myself thinking about it over and over. And then I realized I was simply remembering it as something that was wrong with me. That it was a story I was telling myself. That I was somehow inferior. Isn’t that interesting? The past is just a story we tell ourselves.
HER is scheduled to release in theaters this November.
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