Monster as metaphor in Super 8

Super 8 opens in theaters this weekend. It stars a group of misfit kids and a mysterious and dangerous creature that escapes from the U.S. Air Force in a train crash.

In an interview with Michele Norris, director J.J. Abrams revealed that it’s really two different movie ideas combined:

“The idea at first was just a small intimate story,” he says. “A story about first love, a story about a broken family.”

But the film was missing something, he explains: “I wanted something external, something physical that would represent … the struggle happening internally with the main character.” At the time, Abrams was also mulling over another plot: A U.S. Air Force train transporting contents from Area 51 crashes and its content escapes. “It occurred to me,” Abrams says, “that if I combined these stories … this creature that is out there in this world really does represent all this pain and this agony of the loss this boy is suffering.”

Abrams goes on to say that in many ways this film is a tribute to the classic movies that Steven Spielberg made under the Amblin Entertainment label (E.T., Back to the Future, and The Goonies, among others).

…”the feeling is a feeling of infinite possibility,” Abrams says. Sure, there were scary moments, but in Amblin films, “you always felt you were in good hands.”

Abrams is shooting for heart and wholesomeness — the kind of film you want to see with the whole family on a warm summer night at a drive-in. “The idea [is] that at the end of the film you feel better then you did when you got there,” Abrams says. The experience should feel communal, whether you’re in a car or a theater — and it’s one that Abrams hopes diverse audiences will enjoy. “As with Amblin movies, there is no one audience,” he says. “The movie is for everyone.”

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