How Spike Jonze's 'Her' Movie Crafted An Optimistic View of The Future

Most films that take place in the future portray it as either stark or dystopian. On the other hand, the Spike Jonze 'Her' movie painted a picture of a hopeful future that seems more relatable and Kaptain Kristian explores how the director pulled it off. Kristian's previous videos include subjects like David Fincher, Frank Ocean, South Park, Ben Burtt's Star Wars sound effects, and Night of the Living Dead. And subjects tackled include everything from copyright to visual FX, and censorship.

In his latest video essay, called 'Her - Building a Beautiful Future,' he explains how Spike Jonze crafted a near future that has both a warmth and humanity, which makes it a future worth aspiring too. And this distances it from a lot of contemporary sci-fi movies which leave out the optimism and head straight for the darkness.

A lot of Her's appeal is not only down to Spike Jonze, but also down to production designer K.K. Barrett too. Barrett has worked on previous Spike Jonze movies like Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, but also Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation. The latter Her shares a visual aesthetic with, because both movies were visually inspired by Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi, whose images capture the everyday but also point to a much larger narrative happening outside the frame.

To create the sense of scale needed for the larger narrative, Spike Jonze combined Los Angeles' skyline with CGI composites of Shanghai-style skyscrapers, merging the two into a seamless whole.

Tones Set The Mood On Spike Jonze's 'Her' Movie

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Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ Movie / Screenshot: Kaptain Kristian / YouTube

Another factor that makes the film appealing is instead of monochromatic tones that often create a cold distancing effect, in Her Spike Jonze and Barrett used warmer ones. For instance, instead of blues they use soft-saturated shades. This even went as far as the light emitted from the computer monitors. It all adds up to a sense of a more inviting future, which can also be found in the technology. It's technology which utilizes textures like wood, canvas and paper—materials not ordinarily associated with advanced future tech.

It essentially comes down to the fact that rather than, say, the used future of Star Wars or the glimmering shiny new of Apple products, or the dystopian noir of Blade Runner, Her keeps things simple. And that goes right down to the clothes Joaquin Phoenix's character wears, which take their inspiration from clothes of the past, just like fashion trends do, breeding a familiarity rather than a disjointed strangeness.

"That's what I love about Her," notes Kristian in the video. "Rather than trying to forecast innovation or technological progress, it draws from the past to be more relatable in the present. A vintage quality that makes you feel almost nostalgic for the future."

Check out more from Kaptain Kristian on his YouTube channel.

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Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ Movie / Screenshot: Kaptain Kristian / YouTube

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