Every summer eventually develops its own indelible rhythms. For instance, I generally don’t like heading into the house until the last rays of light are drained from the sky. Darkness, just as in a hushed theater, is the cue here at home for the movie to begin. About 8:30ish. Instead of popcorn, the movie is accompanied by dinner. (Lately that invariably consists of something with kale in it, since my garden plot is still producing buckets of it.) After the requisite skirmish over what to watch, it’s show time. Tolerance for movie violence is a common theme when discussing a selection. I seem to have less and less. But we all love sci-fi movies. And Minority Report’s themes of the state abridging civil liberties in the interests of security are undeniably and unfortunately as relevant now as when it was released in 2002.
This movie is a particular favorite of mine, and not just because of the incredible greenhouse scene, although that does play a big part in my affection. Samantha Morton, Max Von Sydow, Colin Farrell all give riveting performances. Tom Cruise is…well, Tom Cruise. And even if that would normally put you off, this movie has so much going for it that the star’s likability factor isn’t a make-or-break proposition. His stolid performance is arguably just what this movie needs to hold the center. The cinematography by Janusz Kamiński is unspeakably lush and gorgeous. Shot on Kodak film, using the “bleach bypass” technique for any interested film geeks. These scenes in the greenhouse are almost a gothic, over-the-top contrast to the film’s denatured vision of the future.
Gathering these screen shots, I was impressed with the complexity of filming the greenhouse scene, with the actors hitting their marks among hanging plants, waist-high tables and benches overflowing with more potted plants, the camera dipping into deep blue shadows at one end of the greenhouse and piercing sunbursts at the other. Kaminski and Spielberg really capture the wonderful choreography of light found in all greenhouses. I have absolutely no need for one at all, but that doesn’t lessen my desire for a greenhouse in the least, where the fundamentals of light and warmth and the primacy of plants are on heightened display.
The actress in these scenes is Lois Smith. Based on the short story by Philip K. Dick. Directed by Steven Spielberg, an Amblin Entertainment
and Cruise /Wagner production, distributed by 20th Century Fox DreamWorks Pictures.