Technology has come a long way when it comes to special effects and CGI. From the visually impressive 3D of James Cameron’s Avatar, to the CGI inclusion of a young Carrie Fisher at the end of Rogue One, there is no debate that we can make anyone look like anyone else through computer enhancements. However, it may be a little more insensitive in some cases than others, such as the recent announcement that deceased actor James Dean will appear in a new movie through heavy CGI effects.
THR is reporting that James Dean, best known for his roles in iconic classics such as Rebel Without a Cause, will be appearing in a Vietnam action-drama called Finding Jack, a story based on the countless dogs used within the military that were abandoned after the Vietnam War had concluded.
Directing duo Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh had recently obtained the rights to use James Dean in Finding Jack after getting the permission from Dean’s family. However, something about using James Dean, who died tragically in 1955 in a car accident at the age of 24, is setting people off. Who, you ask? Well, Captain America himself, for one.
I’m sure he’d be thrilled 🙄
This is awful.
Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso. Or write a couple new John Lennon tunes.
The complete lack of understanding here is shameful. https://t.co/hkwXyTR4pu
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) November 6, 2019
Sure, it is cool to think that we can use technology to make people look young and allow them to keep acting in films long after they have passed their prime, but Zelda Williams, daughter of the late Robin Williams, chimed in to point out that certain industries could stand to benefit from using this technology to their advantage by using deceased actors in propaganda.
This. Exactly this. Even a CLOSE relative has no real idea and should arguably have no right to decide what acting choices you’d want to make, what movies you’d want to do. This implies that once you die, you do whatever anyone else wants, as long as they buy your participation. https://t.co/h6PmqEbQlR
— Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) November 6, 2019
She points out that while this may not be the case with James Dean and this Vietnam war film (and no one can speak for James Dean on how he feels about it either way since, you know, he’s dead), the possibilities here are somewhat dangerous. She proposes that it could be possible for, say, pharmaceutical companies to resurrect the likes of Charlie Chaplin to advertise pills. It might seem a little excessive, but you have to admit that she has a point. Advertising has a big place in feature films, and subliminal messaging is all around us in many forms, so what she proposes isn’t unreasonable, despite her example may come across as a little extreme.
According to THR, James Dean will portray a character named ‘Rogan’ who will be a ‘secondary lead role’, which means his likeness isn’t being used for a brief “oh, that’s kind of cool” moment that the audience will appreciate. Instead, as a lead role, Ernst states that Dean’s presence as Rogan (or lack thereof) will have ‘complex character arcs’. Here is the full quote in context:
“We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean. We feel very honored that his family supports us and will take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact. The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down.”
Whether Dean was in support or against the Vietnam War while he was alive is one thing, but how he would feel about it now, assuming he would have aged into 2019, is something else. And while part of me thinks it is super cool that we can resurrect the dearly departed with CGI, I personally feel like we should use this tech to make older, living actors appear younger, rather than using it to capitalize on the iconic image of the dead. But, to each their own, I suppose.