One doesn’t associate the word “controversy” very often with the “Star Wars” franchise, unless it involves George Lucas‘ digital mangling of the original trilogy. However, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” did raise some eyebrows with the decision to bring back the late Peter Cushing‘s Grand Moff Tarkin and young Princess Leia with the help of some CGI. The results aren’t entirely convincing, with Tarkin in particular looking pretty ropey and stiff, but the filmmakers stand by their decision and say both characters were integral to the film.
“If he’s not in the movie, we’re going to have to explain why he’s not in the movie,” co-producer and Lucasfilm story development executive Kiri Hart told The New York Times. “[The Death Star] is kind of his thing.”
I suppose that’s a fair point, but the flipside of that argument is that ‘Rogue One’ is not necessarily about the Death Star or the political machinations behind him (which arguably are some of the least interesting moments of the movie) but the hodge podge team of rebels that come together to steal its plans. And while they did get approval from Tarkin’s estate, there were discussions about finding another solution.
“We did talk about Tarkin participating in conversations via hologram, or transferring that dialogue to other characters,” said John Knoll, Chief Creative Officer at Industrial Light & Magic.
As for Princess Leia, she too was deemed a crucial part of the story being told in ‘Rogue One.’
“To deliver on that moment of hopefulness, that is really underscored by the fact that you do get to see her face,” Hart explained. “That’s the best possible use of effects, to enhance the meaning and the emotion of the experience for the viewer.”
In both cases, actors stood in the place of Cushing and Fisher, and then extensive post-production and visual effects work created the faces and movements you see. It’s a lot of work which is why Knoll insists it’s not a technique they’ll use in the “Star Wars” universe very often.
“This was done for very solid and defendable story reasons. [Grand Moff Tarkin] is a character that is very important to telling this kind of story,” he said. “It is extremely labor-intensive and expensive to do. I don’t imagine anybody engaging in this kind of thing in a casual manner.”
Well, given that we already have concerts performed by holograms, cinema embracing digital technology (which will only get cheaper as time goes on) to revive characters doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
Thoughts? Let us know below. ‘Rogue One’ is now playing everywhere.