Jordan Peele Says Nope Is About ‘Our Addiction To Spectacle’ – Exclusive Image | Movies

When Jordan Peele makes a movie, he does it with twin intentions – to deliver a big popcorn flick that’ll take the audience on a thrilling ride, and to get in some big capital-I ideas in the process. In Get Outhe dug deep into the racism hiding just beneath a surface of respectability in liberal America, and in Us he delivered a sharp allegory about class and duality. Now, he’s about to do it all over again with Nope – a film whose secrets have largely been kept under wraps. As of the most recent trailer, though, we do now know that it’s about UFO sightings, while other glimpses of the movie have hinted at ideas around Hollywood filmmaking, American ranch culture, and the very first piece of film footage: a shot of a Black man riding a horse. It sounds like a particularly Peele-ish brew, and in a major new Empire interview, he opened up about what he’s digging into with his third directorial feature – in a single word: spectacle.

“I started off wanting to make a film that would put an audience in the immersive experience of being in the presence of a UFO,” he says, teasing the extra-terrestrial stakes. But the idea grew even further from there into a broader meditation. “I wanted to make a spectacle, something that would promote my favorite art form and my favorite way of watching that art form: the theatrical experience. As I started writing the script, I started to dig into the nature of spectacle, our addiction to spectacle, and the insidious nature of attention. So that’s what it’s about. And it’s about a brother and sister and healing their relationship.” That’ll be Daniel Kaluuya’s OJ and Keke Palmer’s Emerald – a pair who make it their mission to capture the UFO they are menacing their local believe area on camera.

As for that reference back to the very origins of cinema itself, it all connects to Peele’s purposeful but incidental efforts to center people of color in his movies. “The part of African-American history that this addresses more than anything is the spectacle-isation of Black people, as well as the erasure of us, from the industry, from many things,” he explains. “I think in a lot of ways, this film is a response to the Muybridge clip, which was the first series of photographs put in a sequential order to create a moving image; and it was a Black man on a horse. We know who Eadweard Muybridge is, the man who created the clip, but we don’t know who this guy on the horse is. He’s the first movie star, the first animal trainer, the first stunt rider ever on film, and no-one knows who he is! That erasure is part of what the lead characters in this movie are trying to correct. They’re trying to claim their rightful place as part of the spectacle. And what the film also deals with is the toxic nature of attention and the insidiousness of our human addiction to spectacle.” If Peele is as good at exploring spectacle as he is creating it, we should be in for a special, spooky summer treat.

Read Empire‘s full Nope-centric Jordan Peele interview in the upcoming Avatar: The Way Of Water issue, on sale Thursday 7 July and available to pre-order online here. Nope comes to UK cinemas from 12 August.

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