India, despite its distance and the myriad complications involved in shooting
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
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's Aadhaar program may be the most ambitious application of iris
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
Locations included Okhla Mandi, one of Delhi's oldest and largest open-air
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
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 FĂ¶rderer after seeing his film HELL. "I had that
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,
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
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
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
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
It is an approach Berges-Frisbey describes as "playing with accidents." "We
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
"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
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
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
greater breadth and depth."
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