JERRY BRUCKHEIMER on
'PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME'
Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for RadioFree.com
May 8, 2010
Based on the enduring video game series that debuted in 1989, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a blockbuster action adventure that tells the story of Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), a street urchin who is adopted by the nobel king of the Persian Empire after performing a good deed as a young boy. But life in the royal family becomes complicated for Dastan as a young adult, when the political ambitions of his nefarious uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley) lead to him being framed for the murder of the king.
On the run from his family, the law, and any number of mercenaries looking to claim the bounty on his head, Dastan uncovers the secrets of the Dagger of Time, a mythical artifact that contains a magical sand with the power to turn back the clock. In a frenzied bid to clear his name and thwart Nizam's plan to use the dagger to re-write history and establish himself as king, Dastan is forced into a rocky alliance with the beautiful Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), an Alamutian guardian of the sand with an intense dislike and distrust of the invading Persians.
In this interview, famed big-budget producer Jerry Bruckheimer talks about the making of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time via a streaming webcast from the other side of the Atlantic...
JERRY: Thanks for having me, it's a pleasure to be here...I hope your weather's better than ours here in London. It's raining.
MEDIA: How do you approach the process of adapting a video game into a full length feature film?
Well, it all comes from story and character. And Jordan Mechner, who created the game, came in and pitched us a story that we were intrigued with. He wrote the first screenplay, and then we brought in some of our big Hollywood writers to come in and embellish the characters and the plot. So you start from the basic idea of the game.
How do you respond to critics who dismiss movie adaptations of video games and books as having strayed too far from their source material?
Well, I think what you have to do is you have to try to take what's best out of the game or the book and try to work with that. And also, you know, novels go on for a long time, and we try to make movies under two hours. So sometimes you have to cut things out, which is unfortunate.
Having tackled many other large scale epics in your career, are there any surprises left?
There's always surprises. You know, every time you take on a big movie, you find things that are fun to learn. And Morocco in the summer is not a place you'd like to be. It's 120 degrees, and it was not fun to be there in June and July. [laughs] But it's a beautiful country, and they have the ability to go up in the mountains and then go in these beautiful deserts. It was a real thrill for us.
How have advancements in visual effects raised the bar in your type of filmmaking?
Well, I think every time we approach a movie, the computer graphics and power become stronger, and doubles and triples. So we can do a lot more things that we couldn't do in the past, and it's easier to do, and fortunately it gets a little cheaper. So there are more artists that are joining that field and we're getting better computer graphics because more talented people are doing it.
What do you think made Mike Newell the right director for this film?
Well, when you hire a director who's not a first time director, you get to see their films. So from Donnie Brasco, he showed he can do realism. We wanted the movie to have some realism to it. Then you saw Four Weddings and a Funeral, he had humor--you could tell he could handle actors and find funny things for them. And then you see the Harry Potter film he did, he had to understand fantasy. So the combination of humor, fantasy, and realism is exactly what we were looking for.
What single element of Prince of Persia really stands out for you?
I think the dagger rewind is really spectacular, and our visual effects were beautiful. We had some wonderful artists working on that to create something that was unique and special. And I think that's one of the most interesting things you can see in the movie.
Was there a lot of debate about how to depict the Sands of Time, and where and when to use it?
You're absolutely right. There was a lot of debate--you know, how many times do you use it, how to do it. It took us months and months and months to come up with the right dynamics for it and the right design for it. We went through a lot of different designs, and a lot of different visual artists worked on it, a lot of illustrators worked on it. So we finally got something we're very comfortable with that Mike really loved.
In retrospect, do you wish it could have been added to more scenes?
You know, I'm always looking to add scenes to our movies. That's the fun part. That's something we always love to do. But, you know, you don't want to have an audience sit in a theater too long.
Thanks for your time.
Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure.