Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a film full of surprises. From Darth Vader's iconic fight to the final fate that befell our heroes, audiences were left reeling by the first Star Wars anthology movie. However, just as we thought Rogue One couldn't surprise us more, a shocking end cameo from Carrie Fisher pulled the rug out from under us and sent our hair buns spinning.
Using digital technology, director Gareth Edwards and his team were able to recreate the younger #PrincessLeia that we all know and love from the original #StarWars trilogy. As if that wasn't surprising enough, #RogueOne also resurrected the villainous character Grand Moff Tarkin, despite the fact that actor Peter Cushing had died years before.
Despite or perhaps because of these characters' popularity, fan debate has raged over the ethics of this approach, leading talking heads across the industry to question whether such practice could even spell the end of cinema as we know it...
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What Does 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' Star Diego Luna Think?
Known usually for championing arthouse fare, the Berlin Film Festival opening press conference turned instead to a galaxy far, far away today, when #DiegoLuna was asked about the controversial use of CGI in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Referring to a recent Vanity Fair article that declared Hollywood as we know it is dying, a reporter asked whether Luna believed that his livelihood will be threatened by this new technology and how it will affect future generations of actors.
The Cassian Andor actor replied by stating:
"Not at all. They still needed actors. There was still an actor for each of these very particular cases that you're talking about. I don't think so, as I'm audience and as audience I can tell you, I'm going to fight until the last day to be able to see a cinema that I can connect with, that I believe in, that represents the world I live in."
While Luna didn't specifically refer to Peter Cushing or #CarrieFisher, it's clear that these are the particular cases which the actor was discussing in his response, declaring that this newfound use for CGI ultimately won't change the face of cinema as we know it.
One could argue that Luna wasn't considering the bigger picture here, as he didn't openly acknowledge whether such practices could become more widespread. Yet the actor did explain how technological advances are nothing to be afraid of, recalling that;
"I was very scared when phones became cameras. I have to say now that I'm ok [laughs]. I still enjoy life, even though these things are very intrusive. I manage to keep them away. As an audience, we have to send a message. When we buy tickets, we are sending a message. We allow a kind of cinema to exist. Let's send the right message and make sure that cinema stays the way it is."
What Did The Rest Of The Berlinale Panel Think?
Interestingly enough, fellow jury member #MaggieGyllenhaal took a more cautious approach to the matter, explaining that a combination of new technological innovations and humanity is vital:
"If its all computer generated, it's actually not going to move us. I think we're moved by human experience. We all know something truthful when we see it."
Maggie's thoughts undoubtedly echo those of many #StarWars fans who may have felt cheated by Rogue One's digital manipulation as the credits rolled. After all, the technology may be more advanced than ever before, but there was arguably still something disconcerting about seeing a deceased actor like Peter Cushing star in a new movie.
Take some time to relive Carrie Fisher's best moments in the clip below:
If CGI Won't Kill Cinema, What Will?
As head of the #Berlinale's international jury and a prolific director in his own right, it's no surprise that Paul Verhoeven also contributed his opinion to proceedings, taking a decidedly different approach to either Luna or Gyllenhaal.
"What's really a threat in Hollywood, I feel, is that everything has become bottom line. If you compare the kind of movies made in the US in the '80s, there were more R rated, more adult movies... That is very difficult to find now. Everything is PG or PG-13. There is a lack now of adult movies. Of course, PG and PG-13 [movies] bring in more people, and more money. That's the problem I think. I want to put a certain amount of money in and if I want double or triple back, it doesn't matter if there's anything serious about this movie. It's about the money that it makes, so that's certainly a threat in the end."
Money has always been the driving factor in Hollywood, but Verhoeven's opinion on how financial backing can now influence the very subject matter of films is undeniably accurate. Clearly then, Verhoeven feels that there are far more important issues that Hollywood should address then the use of CGI to recreate actors in modern movies.
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While it's extremely doubtful that Hollywood will leave us anytime soon, it's worth bearing in mind that this questionable use of CGI could one day spin out of control if not tempered. After all, would we still need actors like Diego Luna and Maggie Gyllenhaal if it's far cheaper and easier to recreate their performances digitally?