Star Wars Meets the Uncanny Valley

leias

I finally broke down and saw the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, last week. I wasn’t avoiding it, necessarily…but I wasn’t in any hurry to see it, either…I have mixed feelings about something that plays around so close to the edges of the original movie, the one they now call Episode 4. But then again if Attack of the Clones couldn’t ruin Star Wars for me, probably nothing could.

I found it, um, mostly harmless. I had been warned that there would be a lot of CGI Peter Cushing, and this was only moderately creepy. If anyone is going to keep making movies after they’re dead, it should be Cushing and Christopher Lee, who were in about a thousand films between them during their lifetimes.

The big surprise came at the end, when a familiar white-robed, brown-haired figure appeared facing away from the camera. I didn’t think they’d actually show her face, but then there it was: a digital recreation of young Carrie Fisher, looking more or less as she did back in 1977.

This made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, given that Carrie’s been dead less than a month now. The filmmakers had no way of knowing that she was going to die, and no doubt would have thought twice about using her image if they had, but what’s done is done. Supposedly she saw her digital doppelganger while the film was in production and approved.

Word is she had already completed filming her part for the upcoming Episode 8, but was slated to play a major part in Episode 9, putting Disney in something of a quandary. Obviously the temptation must be there to replace her with an age-appropriate CGI Carrie. A few days ago there was a story saying that Disney was negotiating with her estate for permission to do just that; since then the denials have been flying hard and fast. No one, apparently, wants to be accused of digital graverobbing.

But one way or another we’re going to see this kind of thing more and more. The technology exists and so does the profit motive. We’re going to be spending a lot of time in the Uncanny Valley, so we might as well get used to it.

2 Responses to “Star Wars Meets the Uncanny Valley”

  1. xian Says:

    is it just me or did they make digital Carrie thinner than real Carrie?

  2. bill Says:

    I think they did, and she was pretty damn skinny already.

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