Right off the bat, they talk about Gort, the robot who was at one point rumoured to be missing from the film but can now be seen clearly, if briefly, at the end of the new trailer:
The last shot in the trailer is a hero shot, although strangely not of Keanu Reeve’s character Klaatu, but of his trusty robot Gort. The look of the character deliberately recalls his look in the 1951 original.
“It was intentional,” Derrickson said. “I certainly took a lot of time to explore other possibilities. It wasn’t just a foregone conclusion in my mind that we would be sticking to the original. I tried looking at a lot of different possibilities, worked on a lot of different ideas with artists and just always a nagging sense that there was something right about the way the original, that there was something about this alien entity choosing a human form or being in a human form that had value even by modern standards, not by 1950 standards. I also am such a fan of the original film. You have to also just have some respect for Gort. Gort is Gort. There’s no question what we designed pays homage to the original.”
They also discuss the new film’s environmental theme:
In an interview with MTV News in March, Reeves told us that Klaatu’s message to Earth was very different from the one in the original, that he was bringing with him a warning to stop destroying the environment. Here it looks like the environment is destroying us (or Giants Stadium, at any rate) — which is it?
“It’s both and even more,” Derrickson explained. “I think that this film in some ways is an attempt to address a number of issues that are amongst the most pressing issues for the human race. The original being a Cold War film was addressing what was clearly the greatest threat for the human race at that time, mutual nuclear destruction, and that’s not the most pressing threat that we face now. It’s also man vs. man. We are destroying each other as well. Our country’s at war right now. There is certainly the issue being addressed in the movie of our treatment of one another on the planet. I think it’s a movie about human nature as much as anything else and how human nature is acting itself out in the world right now.”
Finally, they ask him about the possible religious allegory — and while they don’t mention it here, Derrickson happens to be a Christian whose previous directorial effort was The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), so his answer on this point is particularly interesting:
The original was a not-so-subtle allegory for Christ (the alien’s human name is Carpenter, he calls for peace, he is resurrected at the end, etc.). Is Derrickson’s version as overt?
“I don’t think you can really escape that metaphor,” Derrickson said. “I think the Christ-myth stories make great stories, whether it’s ‘The Matrix’ or ‘Braveheart,’ they all are tapping into some kind of deep myth in our DNA, and by myth I don’t necessarily mean false. I mean something that has mythological power and that’s definitely part of the story and part of what attracts me to it. My approach to that was to not discard that, but to be not quite as direct as the original.”
One fascinating thing about this is that Robert Wise, who directed the original film in 1951 (my comments), claimed he had no idea about the Christological elements in his film until other people pointed them out to him after the film was finished. So he was unintentionally overt about them, whereas Derrickson, from the sound of it, will be intentionally subtler about them.