The true story of George Miller, Stanley Kubrick, and the talking pig
One of the pleasures of repeatedly interviewing George Miller over the course of 2015 was that he got chattier and chattier every time we ran into each other.
On the day we had him stop by the HitFix studios to talk about "Mad Max: Fury Road," which the NBR just named the best film of 2015, he was at his most charming and relaxed, and our one-hour conversation covered a lot of ground. One of the most unexpected digressions had to do with "Babe," a project that took quite a bit of time to develop. It eventually became a showcase for a masterful blend of animatronic and animation, and Rhythm & Hues won an entirely justifiable Oscar for their work on it.
But when Miller set out to try to crack the problem of how to make an entire film featuring talking animals that had to give real, nuanced performances, CGI was not an option. Where his efforts led him and how Stanley Kubrick played into things is a story you should hear directly from him, so enjoy the video embedded at the top of the story.
At the end of the interview, we stood around for a few more minutes chatting with Miller about Kubrick and his work. Miller said that while "A Clockwork Orange" was the film that first made him revere the legendary director, "Barry Lyndon" is the film he finds himself most in love with these days. I told him that I feel like "Lyndon" is a film that simply won't play well to people before they've lived a certain amount of life. The older I get, the sadder the film gets, and the more it hurts to watch. We talked about how most of Kubrick's films are the sort that change as you age. Each time you come to them, they are different because each time you come to them, you are different. It's the sign of just how great they are and how enduring they are as art.
If there's any film of Kubrick's that changes as people return to it, it's his haunting final movie, "Eyes Wide Shut," and I mentioned to Miller that I've run into a number of people recently who had just returned to the film after having had some major life changes. In my case, my divorce last year definitely made it a different experience to return to "Eyes," and when I ended up having a conversation about Kubrick with (of all people) James Cameron last year, he mentioned that he loves the film now. "Then again, when 'Eyes Wide Shut' came out, I hadn't been married five times yet. It's a whole new movie for me now," Cameron told me, laughing.
Gina, the Warner publicist who was tasked with getting Miller to his next appointment, was practically pulling him towards the door by this point, and Miller had a big smile on his face as he finally started walking away. "Well, 'Barry Lyndon' is the one for me," he said. "I think I'll hold off on 'Eyes Wide Shut,' because I'm very happily married."
And with that, he was gone. You can see the first full half-hour of my interview embedded below.