After filmmaker Ang Lee won the Best Director Oscar for Life of Pi, he took some time in choosing his next project, but it quickly became clear that he was itching to shake up the cinematic landscape like never before. He began developing an ambitious boxing movie, but when that got delayed, signed on to helm an adaptation of the Iraq War satire novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. However, instead of approaching the film in a traditional manner, Lee went all in with new technology, opting to shoot the picture in 6K at 120 frames per second, resulting in the clearest image ever put on film.
However, as we saw with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, high frame rate (or HFR), can illicit a divisive reaction, with many deriding the image as soap opera-esque. With Billy Lynn—which follows a squad of soldiers being heralded as heroes during the halftime show of a Thanksgiving Day professional football game, with flashbacks to their time at war dispersed throughout—Lee aims to bridge that divide, and judging by early response from tech insiders, the results could be groundbreaking.
Collider’s own Steve Weintraub recently spoke with actress Kristen Stewart in anticipation of the upcoming sci-fi drama Equals (which is really good—see it!), and during the course of their conversation Stewart also spoke about her work in Billy Lynn and how excited she is about Lee’s approach:
“An insanely high frame rate would give you like a slow motion effect, but if you put it in real time you’re just getting more information than we’re used to. But usually if you do that without whatever process he’s doing—which I have no idea—it makes it look like reality TV, it makes it crisp in a way that actually detaches you. [But] he messes with depth of field and makes this 3D situation where—usually the way a lens works, you control where the focal point is, [but] in this case everything’s in focus… So when you watch the movie you can decide, almost as if you’re there in person, what you want to look at, which has just never been seen before on film.”
Stewart clearly knows what she’s talking about here having been around a number of film sets and watched each director’s process intently, but you can see in the video that she can hardly contain her excitement about Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. But tech can only go so far, and Stewart says Lee’s intention behind this unique approach has everything to do with making the film as immersive as possible:
“The way Ang described it is he feels so disconnected from movies that he watches that he just wants to feel like he’s closer, and that he’s done this with [Billy Lynn]. He’s somehow achieved that, so I can’t wait to see it.”
Lee is nothing if not versatile, so I also cannot wait to see what he’s put together here with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Watch the full interview in the video above. The film also stars Joe Alwyn, Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, and Steve Martin and opens in theaters on November 11th.