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Alex Garland on the ‘meaningless’ self-destruction at the heart of Annihilation

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Feb 22, 2018

Though we've tried to speed up time, we're still a day away from the release of Annihilation, which is Alex Garland's eagerly anticipated follow-up film to the fantastic Ex Machina. The new movie is based on the first novel in the Southern Reach trilogy by James VanderMeer, and writer/director Alex Garland is shedding some light on how he went about adapting the book that put the "weird" in "new weird." 

Answering questions in a recent Google Talk, Garland broaches a number of topics—but foremost among them is the "meaningless" self-destruction that is at the heart of his film. He describes two kinds of people—those with their defects and destructive tendencies readily apparent, and others with more confidence. When you get to know either set, however, he mentions that self-destructive tendencies can become clear, and that they often have no real purpose. 

Layering this personal self-destruction on top of the environmental destruction of the book was paramount for Garland, who says that he did not re-read the novel before adapting it. He wrote his adaptation of the very dream-like book based on his own remembrances of it, and thus the film became almost like a dream based on a dream. The approach was approved by VanderMeer. 

Garland also praises his cast (including Ex Machina star Oscar Isaac), and most especially Natalie Portman. According to Garland, Portman has an incredible poise, but also has an "ability to demonstrate damage between the cracks." She is able to be "intimidating yet broken," and that fits in perfectly with the vision of self-destruction that the film's characters will wrestle with. 

He also talks about how his directorial approach is more like a "mountain range" than a pyramid (being a true collective collaboration), how he adapted the "atmosphere" of the book more than the beat-by-beat story, and how the book dazzled him with it's true originality. Take a look at the full video below, and let us know in the comments if you're planning to get annihilated when Annihilation hits theaters tomorrow!