Star Wars: Rogue One: A New Can Of Worms
On the outset, I will say that I love this movie and have seen it twice. I enjoyed it more the second time around because I was familiar with the new characters. It is an epic story about how the plans for the first Death Star fell into the hands of the Rebel Alliance and who was responsible for the vulnerabilities that allowed it to be destroyed in the original Star Wars film. If there is one shortfall that I wonder about is, where are the “many Bothans” that died as mentioned by Mon Mothma? But that is something for another time.
What I am thinking about today, and have been for the past couple of weeks is the CGI characters that appeared in the film, particularly Grand Moff Tarkin.
As the story unfolded on the screen, when I saw Peter Cushing’s image, I thought to myself that it was really cool that they brought his character back to life as an important part of the story. Then when I saw the other actors in their Rebel ships, I again was amazed at what the studio was able to do. Then, once again, at the end of the film, that last shot of Princess Leia accepting the plans that she would later entrust to R2-D2, I was both elated and saddened at the same time seeing Carrie Fischer’s character so respectfully there as the story, once again, comes full circle.
As far as Tarkin and Leia are concerned, the CGI was extremely well done, but also obviously it they were not the real characters because of a few very minor imperfections, of which I will not go into detail due to the insignificance of them. Suffice it to say that they were so close that I felt it more of a tribute and a necessary part of the story. I am not one to get all bent out of shape over minutiae and have no problem suspending my disbelief in favor of enjoying a film.
However, after thinking about what I witnessed on the screen, especially as I thought about Tarkin, I couldn’t help but wonder what implications this new and developing technology might have on future films. A link to an article came across my Facebook feed questioning the ethics of this practice. That is exactly what I wondered about too as the question of resurrecting departed actors crossed my mind. As I understand, Cushing’s family gave their permission, and may have even been compensated for the appearance, and kudos to the filmmakers for following through with should be considered the right thing to do. And one might also think about Tarkin’s image appearing in the animated series, Star Wars: Clone Wars and again in Star Wars: Rebels, while in those instances, it was an animated image that approximated the original actor, while in Rogue One, it was far more of an attempt to absolutely recreate the character as accurately as possible.
In the very limited reading I done on this subject, people’s feelings fall on both sides of the fence. It’s right or it isn’t right depending on how one feels. Many believe that it is okay in this case because permission was obtained and compensation was paid while others say it doesn’t matter and that the role should have been re-cast using a live actor. Perhaps either or both are right, I’m not sure myself, but I do have a few thoughts.
As I mentioned before, I think it was great that the actors who were in Star Wars were brought back. It gave Rogue One a comfortable sense of continuity for me, and was as much a tribute as anything else. While the technology as it exists today is prohibitively expensive that it probably cannot be afforded by any but the largest studios, we all know that as time goes on, more and more filmmakers will have access to this developing tool, and as such, a tool can be used for good, or can be perverted into something that could do great harm.
In Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, the President of the Federation made a statement that I think might be something that could give one food for thought, “Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing, it does not necessarily mean we must do that thing.”
So far, the use of CGI in films has been all over the spectrum from being used well, to completely dominating a film to the point that it overshadows the story and characters that it actually becomes the star of a film rather than something to help tell a story. With the current idea that a beloved, departed actor can be recreated and become a main character in a film has its implications too. As in the case of Rogue One, it can be beneficial, but what if a more unscrupulous filmmaker decides to use this as a way to take a limited budget and maximize his profits? In the not so distant future, it is conceivable that one could sit at a computer and make an entire film and not lay out a dime for talent. In this age of sequels, prequels, and remakes, this budding technology could open a can of worms should not be opened, in my humble opinion.
Let’s take a film like Logan’s Run as a possible candidate for a remake (actually, there has been talk about a remake for quite some time). Members of the cast, Michael York is in his 70’s, Jenny Agutter is in her 60’s. Richard Jordan, Farrah Fawcett, Peter Ustinov and Roscoe Lee Brown are no longer with us (in the case of the last, we never actually saw the actor, only his voice talents were lent to the robot character called Box). If one watches the film, one can see a huge number of flaws that would not stand up to modern film-going audiences. The sets are hokey, the effects are primitive, and the miniatures for large scope scenes are obviously models. Now I would have to think that that film was made using the best technology available at the time, it still looks a little off, but therein lies the charm of that film! As far as film-making history is concerned, it is perfect in everything that it is and need not be remade. Where the film does excel is in the performances of the talent involved in telling a story warning us about how we could lose control of our lives because the things that humanity values causes us to seek a more recreation based lifestyle, at least until one reaches the age of 30. So, if through the magic of CGI, we bring back the deceased actors, de-age the living ones (presuming they would allow it), and made the backgrounds slick and new, would you want to see it? I know I wouldn’t and I know several other fans of Logan’s Run who wouldn’t as well. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t want to see any remake of this Sci-Fi classic. As far as I am concerned, it is perfect just the way it was made originally, but that’s a rant for another time.
I cannot say what what I think is right, bit it is right for me. Some may agree while others, I am sure will disagree. I would love to hear your thoughts also.
Well, there it is…