Seth Larney Needs Oxygen in “2067”
The year is 2067. The Earth has been virtually destroyed by anthropogenic climate change and humans are forced to live off artificial oxygen. Until that supply inexplicably starts killing humans, which will inevitably lead to their extinction. Big-tech firm Chronicorp, in an effort to save humanity, invents a time machine into the future to found out how some humans survived and hopefully bring this knowledge back to 2067 to save us all.
2067 is a satisfying, full-throttle, high-concept science-fiction thriller film about saving humanity from itself. Writer/ Director Seth Larney has always had an interest in big sci-fi movies with a strong message which led him to this project. His love of a habitable environment (and fear of an uninhabitable planet) combined with images of forests burning down, formed the basis of this story. He wanted to write about “an issue that was current and relatable.”
2067 is deliberately set in a world not too far into the future. “It needed to be close enough to feel like it can affect us tomorrow, but far enough to capture the context of new technologies that are believable,” he elaborated.
The filmmaker’s love of sci-fi extends beyond the question of what would happen if humans don’t enact radical change. It was Larney’s equal love of time travel movies that made this story truly his own.
Larney has built a solid career in VFX (Matrix Reloaded, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Superman Returns) which allowed him to visualize and composite the world of 2067.
Pitching his idea of humans being forced to breathe artificial oxygen lent itself to cinematic visual and thematic references from other films in the genre. Seth’s influences include Arrival, Dune, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and 12 Monkeys.
Big films with strong social commentary always run the risk of alienating audiences. “I’m a very strong believer that films should be entertaining first and foremost. In the end, audiences should feel something very strongly and emotionally connect to the film.”
Seth Larney balked at the idea of 2067 being a cause film that would crumble under the weight of its own self-worthiness. “Nobody likes to be preached to. I gently infused the big questions into character conversations. It’s a two-way dialogue between the characters and the audience. The audience also has a valid voice and point of view,” he continued. The film needed to work on so many levels to give the audience a satisfying experience.
The filmmaker added that high-concept films like 2067 can’t only be about climate change issues. His first approach to offset this was to make it as entertaining as possible. Then, he reduced the vastness of humanity’s tendency to destroy itself into a small relationship drama. “It was an insular character drama wrapped in a fun, epic sci-fi movie. It is a simple story about a boy reconciling with his father who abandoned him.”
2067‘s main character Ethan Whyte played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (Dolemite is My Name, X-Men: Dark Phoenix) uncoincidentally bears some resemblance to Larney’s actual life. The writer/director wrote his opus over ten years when he was still in his twenties and still confronting challenges with his own genius father. “Now that I’m in my late thirties, we finally mended our fractured relationship. That was what this film is really about.”
Ethan Whyte, a lowly tunnel worker is unwillingly summoned by the future with his friend Jude Mathers played by Ryan Kwanten (True Blood, The Oath) to meet the Chief Technology Office of Chronicorp, Regina Jackson, played by Deborah Mailman (Mystery Road, Offspring) in an effort to save all of humanity.
All Ethan wants is to be home with his wife Xanthe played by Sana’a Shaik (Reckoning, Jack Irish) who is suffering from oxygen sickness. She convinces him to heed his higher calling.
Larney commented on how actor Kodi Smit-McPhee took sole ownership of Ethan Whyte’s character and transformed him into “a character his younger generation was waiting to see.” Dr. Richard Whyte, played by Aaron Glenane (Snowpiercer, 68 Whiskey) abandoned young Ethan at a young age causing him to have issues about fatherhood.
Seth Larney covers rich thematic territory in 2067. He succinctly summarizes his intention as, “Faith versus Fate. Is our future set or can we alter our destinies? It’s also about the struggles humans have with their fatalistic attitude that we can’t really affect change. We must believe that our actions have real meaning and take responsibility for them. Otherwise, our lives have no purpose.” This mantra was at the core of every character.
Maybe we can plan our collective human fates and move forward together? As Ethan reconnects with his father, Dr. Whyte whispered to Ethan to “believe in himself,” as part of the healing and reconciliation process. Every seemingly small and selfless action can have a great effect, even if he can’t see the final result.
Despite the apocalyptic scenes, there are glimpses of hope in Larney’s story. Ethan is transported four hundred years into the future when the world’s forests have regenerated, but there are no people. He chooses great sacrifice to allow humanity to take its power back and reset its course.
During the extensive development process of his screenplay, Larney always had a solid idea of what he wanted 2067 to be. The synthetic oxygen and time travel were the landscape and backdrop for the story to occur. The redrafting process was more a matter of ensuring that every character nuance and behavior was in service to the plot. He didn’t want caricatures in his movie.
Small moments focused on the tender moments between Ethan and Jude which added a spark to the movie. Such moments were often characterized by quick glances and expressions rather than words.
“If there’s one thing that I would love for everyone to walk away from this film with, it would be hope. I feel like hope is the only thing that gets you through every day, every situation, and every challenge. It’s the elixir of life,” Seth Larney concluded.
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