One of the more unusual characters on screen this year is ‘The Entity’, the sentient artificial intelligence antagonist of Christopher McQuarrie’s “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”.
As A.I. itself is invisible, how does one represent it on screen? Rather than opt for some sort of human digital facsimile, the film uses a swirling white light screensaver-style pattern combined with a recurring audio cue.
It turns out much of that was due to feedback both from screenings for friends and family, along with none other than “Hot Fuzz” filmmaker Edgar Wright.
Speaking with Collider, McQuarrie explained that the original on screen graphic’s color was altered to avoid comparisons to the Eye of Sauron from “The Lord of the Rings”:
“The graphic of the Entity was originally red. And I gave it this twitchy eye movement. People in an earlier friends and family screening said, ‘It was like the Eye of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings. And I thought, ‘Well, no, it’s not, because the Eye of Sauron doesn’t move.’
In my mind’s eye, it was extremely static, but on a rewatch of the films, I realised they were correct, so I simply changed the eye from red to blue. I brought out the blue in all the white spectrum of those projections, and suddenly there it was – the Entity was everywhere.”
He then explained that Wright came to a late friends and family screening where he came up with a suggestion:
“[He said] ‘Can the Entity have some sort of a musical cue, or a sound?’ I said, ‘You’re kidding me, right?’ He said, ‘No.’ And I said, ‘It’s there. It’s all over the place’. We went back and watched the film with Edgar’s filter and realised, ‘Oh my god, it’s everywhere but when I’m actually looking at the Entity.’ It’s actually the Entity’s effect, it’s the presence of the Entity. But when you were looking at the Entity itself, there wasn’t a cue. We created a sound element, very, very late.”
The result is one of the more unusual characters on the big screen in 2023. “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” is still playing in cinemas presently.