While Joseph Kosinski was grateful for the generous $120 million budget that allowed the story to blossom without restraints, with “Oblivion,” the director was trying to evoke ideas that were bigger in scope than the budget, he said in an interview with Den of Geek. While the hefty sum allowed the crew to shoot on location in Iceland, Kosinski argued that the central idea would also have worked in less grand locales, as the narrative delivers a series of meaningful revelations that do most of the heavy lifting.
One of Kosinski’s biggest inspirations was “The Twilight Zone,” with most of its episodes being low-budget shorts that capitalized on strong storytelling aspects to appear larger-than-life. Another classic ’70s sci-fi entry that Kosinski credited is Andrei Tarkovsky’s epic “Solaris,” which takes a deeply humane and meditative approach to love, loneliness, and loss. The director expressed appreciation for Tarkovsky’s dazzling masterpiece while noting that “Oblivion” builds on it in wholly original ways:
“I think ‘Solaris’ is the epitome of ’70s heavy sci-fi. There’s an element of that, but I wouldn’t want people to think this is ‘Solaris,’ because it isn’t, clearly. There are elements, in that it’s a film about ideas, and there is a romantic throughline that Solaris has, but it also has commercial moments — it has the action, the spectacle, the pace of a bigger movie.”
The return of a loved one, which coincides with the jolting of memories, is the crux of “Solaris.” Kosinski employs a similar mechanism in “Oblivion,” where the wife Julia (Olga Kurylenko) acts as the catalyst for Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) to venture into the unknown in search of the truth. Yet, the parallels do not stop here.