Realising the dream: The making of Vanilla Sky

Paramount Home Entertainment's Vanilla Sky offers the viewer the chance to discover the truth and consequences of love at first sight. The movie which witnessed love blossom both on and off screen stars Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz.

David Aames has it all. Money, looks, women, success... until a chance meeting with a beautiful woman changes his life forever.

As a New York City publishing executive, David lives life to the extreme. He has a passion for fast cars and fast women - actress Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz) being his latest fling. But during the week he turns 33, David goes through a midlife crisis and starts to question his views of life and love a little closer.

At a birthday party thrown by his best friend, David meets and falls instantly in love with Sofia, a beautiful dancer who captures his imagination like no one has before and they spend a wonderful night together. But on leaving Sofia's apartment the next morning, David runs into Julie. He gets into her car - a twist of fate that is to alter his life forever - and in a fit of rage about his casual treatment of her, she drives her car off a bridge.

With Julie dead and David horribly disfigured he struggles to come to terms with what has happened to him. Vanilla Sky will make you question your perceptions of love, hate, dreams, life, work, play, friendship and sex.

The movie was adapted from Alejandro Amenábar's Spanish movie Abre Los Ojos (Open your Eyes) by director/writer Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous). Vanilla Sky stars and was produced by Tom Cruise (M:I-2, Mission Impossible and The Firm). Penelope Cruz (Captain Corelli's Mandarin and Blow) portrays the role of Sofia - a role that she made her own in Amenábar's original classic.

Cameron Diaz (Charlie's Angels, My Best Friend's Wedding and There's Something About Mary) and Kurt Russell (Escape from New York and Backdraft) also star and British actor Timothy Spall (Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Rock Star, and Secrets and Lies) makes an appearance as Aames' lawyer.

The movie was shot over six weeks in New York during the city's peak Christmas season, moving between Central Park, the Upper West Side, Times Square, Soho and Brooklyn which provided a spectacle for the thousands of tourists and Christmas shoppers.

One of the film's most ambitious and memorable scenes was filmed in Times Square. It features Tom Cruise's character driving into the square only to find that it is totally deserted. In an unprecedented move, the city gave Vanilla Sky permission to close Times Square one Sunday for the duration of the shoot.

The scene required the development of a completely new rig which could ensure that the camera was low enough to meet Cruise as he drove into Times Square, but also able to pan away high above to reveal the full and breathtaking magnitude of the shot.

Aames Publishing and David's office were actually the offices of Vanity Fair in the new 48 story Condé Nast building on Times Square. The office of Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair's editor, with its broad window overlooking the hectic panorama of Christmas in the heart of Manhattan, made the perfect workspace for the David Aames character. Most of the interior shots were filmed on the Paramount lot in Los Angeles, including the scenes in David's sprawling apartment - a high-ceilinged, multi-roomed place, impeccably decorated in muted blues and dark wood.

Production Designer Catherine Hardwicke explains, "This guy has the money to have elegant things and the indulgence of a gorgeous space in New York to display them." To that end, Hardwicke adorned the walls with reproductions of classic works by Balthus, Rothko and Matisse as well as some quirky personal items such as a handpainted skateboard emblazoned with the image of David Bowie; a huge surfboard sculpture from Hardwicke's own collection; and an homage to Cameron Crowe's rock and roll past in the form of several guitars, including a smashed one, lovingly framed behind glass.

The artwork was key in emphasising the different facets of Aames' personality. Hardwicke explains, " was very important to give his character one or two blue chip pieces, like a Van Gogh and a huge looming painting of his father. The idea was to splice Aames' present life, such as his love of skateboards and guitars, with his past life, represented by his father's portrait.

DVD Extras

The DVD comes loaded with a host of extra features. Cameron Crowe himself played an integral part in putting together a complete package that would really give the audience an astonishing insight.

Audio commentary by Cameron Crowe Crowe guides the audience through his masterpiece with obvious pride, pointing out curious information on the production of certain scenes and how the casting choices came to be made. He is joined in parts by composer Nancy Wilson (formerly of rock group Heart, who also happens to be his wife) and Tom Cruise.

Featurette One - Prelude to a Dream This featurette takes a behind-the-scenes look at casting decisions, early rehearsal footage and screen tests, and some of the most memorable scenes of the film, providing the audience with useful orientation. Find out exactly how the crew were able to shut down New York's Times Square for a number of hours on a Sunday morning and what it was that appealed to director Cameron Crowe about the prospect of remaking Abre Los Ojos.

Featurette Two - Hitting it Hard Tom, Penelope and Cameron let us in on some of their personal home videos, filmed during the worldwide promotional tour for Vanilla Sky. It captures the now highly publicised Cruz and Cruise during their more intimate moments, showing them sleeping, cuddling and goofing around together. You can even check out Penelope's flamenco dancing skills when the couple visit her family home in Spain. A must for all Tom and Penelope fans.

Interview with Paul McCartney - The legendary songwriter talks about his Oscar nominated title track - Vanilla Sky.

Afrika Shox music video By Leftfield and Afrika Bambaataa.

Photo gallery Introduced by photographer Neil Preston.

Two theatrical trailers (one previously unreleased)

Easter Egg Amusing bloopers and outtakes from the Vanilla Sky vault.

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