Thank you for reading “Playing Nice,” a series of articles that will examine group dynamics in film.
**This article will contain spoilers. I strongly recommend you watch the film first and then read the article if you care about spoilers.** Danny Boyle, the director of Sunshine, describes it as a film about a ship and a signal. More than that, though, it is a film about a crew dealing with maybe the highest stress situation possible. Years in the future the sun is dying and as a result Earth has been plummeted into a nuclear winter. In an effort to save itself Earths best scientists and astronauts gathered together building a ship call Icarus I with a nuclear bomb on board with the mass of Manhattan Island. The hope was that the Icarus I would drop off its payload at the sun and create a nuclear event that essentially jumpstarted the sun. We learn early in the film that the Icarus I failed and the crew we meet is onboard the Icarus II. The mission for Icarus II is the same as Icarus I: Restart the sun and save humanity. The crew of Icarus II consists of a physicist to handle the bomb, a pilot, an engineer, a botanist to manage the oxygen garden, a captain, a first mate, a navigator, and lastly a psychologist (a new addition after the mysterious failure of Icarus I). Things are pretty much as would be expected aboard the Icarus II when the film begins. The crew is stressed but performing their duties, the oxygen garden is over producing, and the ship is functioning normally. One day they have the surprise of getting to see Mercury orbit past the sun. This begins a series of events that affects the rest of the mission. The distress signal from the Icarus I is boosted by Mercury and the crew realize they have the possibility of a second bomb to restart the sun. They choose to go off-mission and to rendezvous with the Icarus I and that ultimately leads the entire crew’s deaths but also the jump-starting of the sun.