Zack Snyder is renowned for his work on the likes of his comic book and fantasy style films such as 300, Watchmen, Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole and the upcoming Superman: Man of Steel. Having previously been a television director, he made the move to the big screen back in 2004 with the remake of Dawn of the Dead, and now introduces Babydoll and her four feisty female friends in his current work, Sucker Punch. Here he talks to View’s Matthew Turner about his reputation as the king of genre filming, the concept behind Sucker Punch, and exactly what was cut out of the movie before it hit the cinema screens.
Warning – this interview contains spoilers which are clearly marked.
Your cast speak very highly of you.
Do they? That's nice of them.
This is a movie about these girls who go to an insane asylum, go on these fantasies and then either escape or don't...
So how difficult is it to find a story that fires your fertile imagination?
It's an interesting process for us when we're looking for a movie. I think the funny thing with Sucker Punch is in a lot of ways for me, like a response to the other movies I've made. Like, I made Dawn of the Dead. I was making TV commercials for 15 years, right? And I was interested in comic books and genre films but I wouldn't have defined myself with them. If you had met me and we were just out at a party, the first thing I would say to you wouldn't be like, 'Oh yeah, I love comic books, man, I fucking love 'em. Let's talk about comic books – I don't want to talk about anything else.' I would just be like, 'Hey, so, y'know? I just came back from Malaysia, I was shooting a commercial.' You know, it would have been like normal stuff, whatever that is.
So I did Dawn of the Dead and then I did 300 and then I did Watchmen and by the end of Watchmen I'm suddenly finding no-one's deeper into genre than I am. Like I am in the fricking deep end of the pool, stuck on the drain. And also I was an authority, not only interested now but basically heir to the throne of genre, somehow. So really I guess Sucker Punch is as much deconstructive of genre as Watchmen is of comic books. I said, 'Well, what the fuck is this thing? What is this monster that we like?'
Maybe it's my fault a little bit, but people have sort of looked at the movie in a pretty straightforward way. You know, this is a movie about these girls who go to an insane asylum and then go on these fantasies and then either escape or don't. And I'm like, 'Okay' and I'm not against this and I do understand it but on the other hand, the idea for me was secondary to the sort of meditation on action. And on the why of genre and on the why of understanding the fighting in the movie. Someone asked me 'Was this the pinnacle of the fighting you've ever done?' I go, 'Well, yeah', in the sense that it parodies all the ways that I've photographed action in the past.
I mean the movie goes like this [draws wavy zig-zag line], if this is the line of parody [draws straight line], the movie is constantly going like this [draws zig-zag line again], just skirting it, because I'm like, 'Well, we should rip ourselves off,' because that's a way of understanding what we're doing. So the movie really sort of completes that trilogy or that quartet of movies that gets me all the way to this place where I'm kind of had a cathartic experience with my relationship with genre through this, to this film. Oh, that was a rant. I'm sorry about that.