Rogue Nation opera

When we examined all the action scenes and setpieces in the Mission: Impossible film series, I ranked the Vienna Opera sequence from Rogue Nation as number three out of all the series’s accomplishments, behind the Burj Khalifa sequence from Ghost Protocol and the wire hang from the original film.

The Rogue Nation opera sequence is a complex piece of work, with multiple characters navigating the backstage area of the Vienna State Opera House — in reality a collection of sets built with more verisimilitude than usual — and incredible timing and definition of space to help audiences keep track of the intersecting trajectories of all the characters.

Now writer/director Christopher McQuarrie has taken the time to provide commentary on that sequence to the New York Times, and the resulting “Anatomy of a Scene” video on the Rogue Nation opera sequence is one of the better scene dissections we’ve caught in a while.

This video The New York Times contains a couple Rogue Nation spoilers, so it’s safest to watch after you’ve seen the film. (But you probably knew that.)

The revelation that the catwalks on production-constructed stages were actually as high as those in the real opera house is intriguing, as is the revelation of which particular parts were added to the sequence much later than others. The shot of Rebecca Ferguson taking aim with her rifle, for example, seems so crucial that I’m surprised to find it was shot well after the fact. I’d love to know what that shot replaced, if anything.

For a lot more, check out Jeff Goldsmith’s podcast with McQuarrie and star/producer Tom Cruise, which runs about two hours and therefore has a lot more information. All this just makes me even more eager for the director’s commentary I hope will be on the eventual blu-ray release of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

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