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I, ORIGINS

Subcontinental Sojourn
India, despite its distance and the myriad complications involved in shooting there, was the ideal place to resolve Ian's search, says Cahill. "I wrote the third act to take place in India because we are dealing with science and spirituality," he explains. "The particular science we're dealing with is the uniqueness of the eyes and iris scanning. The particular spirituality we're dealing with is the soul. In India, the transmigration of the soul is taken for granted. But at the same time, they have a unique ID program to scan every single citizen's eyes in India."

India's Aadhaar program may be the most ambitious application of iris recognition biometrics to date, as the government attempts to build a database of the country's more than one billion citizens, a mind-bogglingly complex undertaking intended to facilitate social welfare and allow people to vote more easily.

"Every day they scan another million Indians' eyes," Cahill says. "I thought, wow, this is the greatest location for the final part of this film to take place."

Shooting took place in Delhi, India's capital and the world's second most populous city. Locations included Okhla Mandi, one of Delhi's oldest and largest open-air markets; a community center built by the filmmakers; and the Imperial Hotel, a magnificent relic of the Raj era and still one of the city's most luxurious lodgings.

"India is a beautiful country filled with a palpable spirituality, stunning beauty and wonderful people," says Cahill. "Shooting there was such a privilege. It's one of the things I'll take with me for the rest of my life."

Cahill served as director of photography for his earlier feature, but decided to bring in German cinematographer Markus Förderer after seeing his film HELL. "I had that rare special feeling that he and I were in sync. I didn't know him, but I could tell from the subtle way he lit a scene or moved the camera that we would make a great team. At our first meeting, Markus did some simple magic tricks and I was fully enchanted. He's a mathematician, a magician and a wonderful human being."

The film was shot using two RED cameras simultaneously, which allowed Cahill to capture extra footage on the fly. "I wanted to work with someone else on this film because our scope was so big, but I do like to operate a camera myself," he explains. "I chose one that was not too heavy and it allowed me to maneuver easily."

Cahill lived up to his reputation for being both precise and improvisatory in his camera work. "The shots were planned out and very strategic," says Pitt. "Then Mike would just follow the actors and what they were doing. He knew how to execute what he wanted. We'd be shooting and he would say, 'No, more like this,' and then grab the camera and start shooting. It gives I ORIGINS the best of both worlds visually-documentary style, but with a very elegant eye."

It is an approach Berges-Frisbey describes as "playing with accidents." "We were always shooting two cameras at the same time, because Mike was expecting us to improvise," she says. "It allowed us to feel free to do whatever we wanted to do."

The film's ending, says Marling, will leave audiences with a sense of wonder and awe. "Something happens that makes the viewer feel, like Ian, that something unseen carries over in life, but the particulars of that, I don't think the film claims to know. I can only say that something mysterious and miraculous is afoot."

According to Cahill, I ORIGINS is just the beginning of his examination of the line between fact and faith. He hopes to continue with either a sequel to the film or even a television series that picks up where it leaves off.

"Einstein said, 'Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble,'" he says. "The Dalai Lama has said that if science ever disproved his religious beliefs, he would change his beliefs. This film is a sort of metaphorical meeting place between Einstein and the Dalai Lama. The ending of the film opens a door, and I hope to explore the impending new paradigm in greater breadth and depth."

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