TIFF posted this great BTS video last year of the riot scene in Cosmopolis last year and it’s included in the David Cronenberg: Virtual Museum. We see Robert Pattinson and Samantha Morton talk about the urge to destroy and the background getting ready for battle. It’s a great look back at the making of this intellectual film.
Behind the Scenes: Cosmopolis: A Specter is Haunting the World
Much of Cosmopolis takes place in the back of Eric Packer’s (Robert Pattinson) limo, which has been cork lined—or “Prousted”—to block out the sounds of the external world. While the limo provides a very intimate setting for Eric and his occasional companions as they make their way through the streets of New York, more than 160 extras were employed as the mob of protestors running rampant outside of the car. This video takes a closer look at the sound design of this film, and the technical challenges of balancing the chaos of a crowd with the extreme quiet inside the limo.
Transcript after the cut
Transcript: Cosmopolis: A Specter is Haunting the World
NARRATOR: Stage 7, Pinewood Studios, Toronto Canada. We study one hundred and sixty background actors, assembled to play a mob of protesters, recently dubbed today as the 99%, though the filming of this scene pre-dated the Occupy Wall Street movement by four months. Their mantra is a derivation from the Communist Manifesto.
CREW MEMBER: Guys, quiet please!
WALTER GASPAROVIC: Once we’re rolling, I’m going to get you to start the chant. Just to get you going in that cadence, O.K.? When I call “Background Action,” you can keep the chant going. When I call “Rat,” you’ll start miming.
CREW MEMBER: Powdering bricks.
NARRATOR: One hundred and sixty years ago, Karl Marx wrote of a time when capitalism will have reached such a degree of expansion that society will move too fast for the people.
In Cosmopolis, Eric Packer is the 1 percent – the highest socio–economic layer, which controls the financial institutions and the corporations that shape the world.
WALTER GASPAROVIC: Background action!
CREW MEMBER: Background action!
NARRATOR: He does so from within the safety of a bullet-proof stretch limo, cork-lined to block out the fuss of social unrest outside. Such a vehicle only exists in fiction, as the modular limo set is decidedly not soundproof. The protesters become mute so as not to infringe upon the dialogue.
VIJA KINSKY: You have to understand: the more visionary the idea, the more people it leaves behind. This is what the protest is all about. Visions of technology and wealth, the force of cyber-capital that will send people to the gutter to wretch and die.
WALTER GASPAROVIC: O.K. Start rocking more violently, guys!
[CROWD ROCKING AGGRESSIVELY]
VIJA KINSKY: What would happen if they knew the head of Packer Capital was in the car?
[ROCKING NOISES IN THE BACKGROUND]
VIJA KINSKY: You know what the anarchists have always said?
ERIC PACKER: The urge to destroy is a creative urge.
VIJA KINSKY: This is also the hallmark of capitalist thought. Enforced destruction.
[CROWD ROCKING LOUDLY]
[ROCKING SOUNDS FADE AS CROWD DISPERSES]
VIJA KINSKY: Destroy the past, make the future.
CREW MEMBER: Cut.
DAVID CRONENBERG: Very good.
SAMANTHA MORTON: Yay!
CREW MEMBER: Cutting!
NARRATOR: Walla. Walla is a sound effect for the murmur of a crowd in the background. The word was created in the days of radio when they needed atmospheric background noise. It was found that if several people simply repeated, “Walla, walla, walla,” it sounded like people talking.
MICHAEL O’FARRELL: This is the important thing: “A specter is haunting the world.” Again, one person starting, the rest growing in. Keep it going for a while.
That’s like a riot crowd. That’s, like, big cheers. “Yay!!!” Let it die out.
WALTER GASPAROVIC: Yup.
[TO EXTRAS:] There’s going to be a series of things that we need, sound effects-wise. So, I’m gonna just holler out things for you to say.
[CHEERS GROW LOUDER]
WALTER GASPAROVIC: When the glass broke. When the glass broke on the car. O.K., Ready? And…
MICHAEL O’FARRELL: What’s on your signs? Your billboards?
WALTER GASPAROVIC: Let me bring some here. And then I could just put them up.
MICHAEL O’FARRELL: Sure.
WALTER GASPAROVIC: They could just look at them.
Democracy now! Democracy now!
A specter is haunting the world! A specter is haunting the world!
[CHANTING FADES OUT]