(August 2, 2015 – NYC) While there are many scenes within Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation that stand out, the Vienna Opera sequence is possibly the best part of the entire film. There’s such an amazing amount of technicality to it, along with a real sense of beauty as to how the scene was filmed. With this being Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation opening weekend, there will certainly be a great amount of people that will see this movie and be intrigued by the Vienna Opera. While there is a passing similarity to the opera scene in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, the Vienna State Opera for Rogue Nation remains it’s own set piece. As What’cha Reading thought back on The A400 scene, we thought it was worth taking another look at a pivotal sequence from the fifth Mission: Impossible. As always, your mission should you choose to accept it is to read and enjoy What’cha Reading’s second look at Rogue Nation.
The Vienna Opera
This particular sequence plays very much as one of the smartest action scenes in any movie as of late. It’s possibly one of the most clever sequences in any Mission: Impossible film for that matter and works for so many reasons. As we’ve previously mentioned in our film review and second look at The A400 sequence, Tom Cruise and writer/director Christopher McQuarrie are huge fans of cinema and Alfred Hitchcock. It’s already being compared to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Albert Hall shooting set piece from the 1956 film “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” McQuarrie revealed that’s one of the few Hitchcock movies he hadn’t seen before making “Rogue Nation” in a Q & A at the DGA last Sunday. The inspiration, he says, was Martin Scorsese’s 10-minute Freixenet Cava commercial “The Key to Reserva”, which played as an homage to Alfred Hitchcock.
The beautiful Vienna Opera scene plays out with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) attempting to inadvertently stop the assassination of the Austrian chancellor. Ethan arrives knowing that The Syndicate will be there, along with the then unknown Solomon Lane who he knows by face, not name. While he is walked through the backstage of the opera via Benji, the sequence plays off like a silent movie.
“The back of the actual Vienna Opera is not exactly like that,” McQuarrie reveals. “We built all of the rafters and everything in one set so you could have 360 degree geography no matter where you looked. All of the fight actually happened 60 feet above that set. It was the most complicated sequence of the movie, more complicated than the A400, the motorcycle chase or the underwater sequences.”
One of the most thrilling aspects of the Vienna Opera is that we are once again reminded that Ethan Hunt is not a superhero. In the vein of films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, or even Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, we see an imperfect fight that sees to it that our hero gets beaten up. One of the best moments of the film has Ethan go up against one of the three assassins in the rafters. The fight is expertly choreographed by Wade Eastwood and is one of the most fun scenes to watch. The fight scene actually came at the suggestion of Tom Cruise.
“We had a deal with the Vienna Opera. Part of the arrangement of allowing us to shoot in and around their opera house was to actually use the Vienna orchestra and to record in their preferred venue. That meant, after editing the film, we had to return to Vienna and record the opera music in Vienna. So all of the music you’re hearing is the cast of their upcoming version of “Turandot” and their orchestra.” – Chris McQuarrie
With Puccini’s opera Turandot playing throughout the scene, the orchestra wonderfully plays to each dramatic moment. As I wrote earlier, there’s minimal dialogue and the scene plays out like a silent movie. There’s a real beauty to the way it’s crafted and it’s an action scene unlike any other sequence in a Mission: Impossible film.
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Of course, it wouldn’t be a Mission: Impossible film without a grand exit so the sequence concludes with Ethan and Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) making their escape via the roof top.
Here are a few key points to consider during their drop:
- “I remember saying, ‘That’s brilliant, but I am very afraid of heights,’ and I remember Tom and Chris laughing, but you get to a point where you step over your threshold of fear, realizing that if you have that safety net of incredible people around you, you can take that extra step if you want to.” – Rebecca Ferguson
- The drop from the Vienna State Opera was an 120 foot free-fall.
- The stunt was performed around 1o to 15 times and was the first part of Rogue Nation to be filmed.
- The premiere for Rogue Nation was held at the Vienna State Opera.
- The very last shot of Rogue Nation to be filmed is that of the first picture included in this post.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is in theaters now. Stay tuned for our final installment on Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) and The Syndicate.