SPOILERS for ‘Rogue One’ Ahead! Do not Read Further if You Have Yet to See the Latest Film in the ‘Star Wars’ Franchise!
There are so many wonderful things to love about ‘Rogue One,’ and while the CGI version of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin might not be the best part of the film, you have to give the filmmaker’s credit for doing as impressive a job as they did on the character. While it was immediately apparently to me that it was a digital character, I know a number of people who did not recognize that Tarkin was not a real actor on screen during their first viewing, and that is really saying something.
For me, I already knew that Cushing had died in 1994, and I could spot some issues with his movements, his eyes, his skin coloring, etc, but it was still pretty amazing how close they got the digital representation, the voice-work, the authority, etc, and it really seemed like Tarkin was a real presence in those scenes, and I appreciated the work it took to put him in there, and the reasons behind putting him in the film. The Death Star was his project, they established that in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ because he was clearly in charge of, and loved the space station in ‘A New Hope,’ and it would not have made sense for him not to be present and in charge during those formative moments in the history of the station, especially when it fired its first shots at Jedha, or destroyed Krennic at the station at Scarif.
Now, for those interested in how exactly they managed to bring Tarkin to life in the film, ABC News has released a new video on Twitter courtesy of ILM (check it out below) showcasing some of the work that went into building Tarkin, that shows in a handful of seconds what clearly took MONTHS of effects work to accomplish, giving us in brief all of the steps necessary to get the character right. They cast a man that already bore a striking resemblance to Peter Cushing, then digitally enhanced his features until he was Peter Cushing, animating all of his moments from that point onward to carry on the illusion.
— Clayton Sandell (@Clayton_Sandell) January 4, 2017
It is a fascinating video, and begs the question, is this the future of filmmaking? We all seem to be ok with ‘Star Wars’ making this choice in the moment, but would we be alright with filmmakers bringing other beloved actors “back to life” in the future to carry on other franchises? Or to de-age them so they can keep on making sequels to franchises from their youths? At what point does it go too far? In 10 years if Lucasfilm wanted to do an Obi-Wan movie set between the prequels and original trilogies, would it be acceptable for them to make a young digital Alec Guinness and have him star in the film? Sure doesn’t feel right to me. Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments below!