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Is it Right to Digitally Place a Dead Actor in a Modern Movie?


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53 replies to this topic

#1 of 54 Ernest Rister

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Posted September 19 2004 - 08:21 AM

For those who don't know, a certain iconic actor makes an appearance in a certain recent f/x sci-fi film, an actor who has been dead for years. I was immediately repulsed by this...then I remembered Steve Martin's Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and Marty Feldman's The Last Remake of Beau Geste.

I have not yet seen the current recent f/x film in question, but somehow, I doubt the intentions were the same.

For those who have the seen the current recent f/x film in question and know of what I speak, what are your feelings? Heresey? Or Wave of the Future? Should actors now be licensing their image and likeness and voice for use beyond their death?

For the actor in the digital age, this is a Brave New World.

#2 of 54 Alex Spindler

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Posted September 19 2004 - 09:33 AM

As long as it is done with the permission of the relatives of the actor or actress, I can't see what the problem is. I wouldn't advocate dredging up the dead without permission, but all else is as valid as releasing a deleted scene of a dead actor.

Now if an unscrupulous estate holder releases Marilyn Monroe's likeness for an unsavory project, that might be something worth discussing. But the film in question uses it to good effect and certainly in good faith.

#3 of 54 Chris Harvey

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Posted September 19 2004 - 09:53 AM

I think it's totally uncool... and I don't care what their estate says. Fred Astaire shouldn't be dancing with a Hoover, and there's no point whatsoever in Oliver appearing in SKY CAPTAIN.

Cheap, lame, and a terrible way to pay tribute to them.

I don't have a problem with using existing footage from older films, provided no manipulation happens.... that's their original performance, at least.

#4 of 54 Patrick Sun

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Posted September 19 2004 - 10:01 AM

I can see actors starting to insert a "Do not digitize me" clause in their wills and instructions to the executors of their estates.
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#5 of 54 Dan Rudolph

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Posted September 19 2004 - 10:15 AM

I know if I were famous, I'd want to milk for all it was worth even after my death.
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#6 of 54 Steve Felix

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Posted September 19 2004 - 10:28 AM

I think I'll be against it when it becomes possible to do it convincingly, but
Olivier's use in Sky Captain was completely inoffensive to me. You'd have to see the film to understand what I mean by this, but he's barely there. It's really not a recreation of the physical man.

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#7 of 54 Ernest Rister

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Posted September 19 2004 - 10:51 AM

"As long as it is done with the permission of the relatives of the actor or actress, I can't see what the problem is."

I'm sorry to be blunt, but to hell with the relatives of the actor or actress. All they care about is quick and easy scratch. Unless an actor has given his express permission to do such a thing, I think it is absolutlely reprehensible.

#8 of 54 Dan Rudolph

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Posted September 19 2004 - 11:15 AM

I think unless an actor objected to such things, whether specifically or in principle there's no reason to think they would object. Why wouldn't they want to make some money for their heirs?
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#9 of 54 Chris Harvey

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Posted September 19 2004 - 11:32 AM

But Steve, what's really the point of doing it, given that specific example?

#10 of 54 Andrew Priest

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Posted September 19 2004 - 11:52 AM

I suspect that this kind of thing is inevitable given the nature of stars. A star sells an image - that's what makes them a star. It's a false image and even the public knows this on some level, but it is still that very image that sells. Once you've gone there, sold that image, there are repercussions. Their fame comes from that image and so in a sense it's not the actor but the image that is famous. And so that image is exploited. Part of the price for playing the game.
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#11 of 54 Steve Felix

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Posted September 19 2004 - 11:59 AM

Quote:
But Steve, what's really the point of doing it, given that specific example?

Just a wink. I smiled when I saw it (I'd forgotten it was coming) and then it was gone. Like any homage that doesn't cross the line into ripoff, it was minor in all respects (value and offense).
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#12 of 54 Dan Rudolph

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Posted September 19 2004 - 12:50 PM

The way I see, you're not really dead as long as you keep working.
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#13 of 54 Chris Harvey

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Posted September 19 2004 - 12:53 PM

Quote:
Just a wink. I smiled when I saw it (I'd forgotten it was coming) and then it was gone. Like any homage that doesn't cross the line into ripoff, it was minor in all respects (value and offense).

Sure, just a wink. But so was Astaire and the Hoover.

#14 of 54 Steve Felix

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Posted September 19 2004 - 01:02 PM

Astaire and the Hoover was for commercial purpose and he was the main subject of that ad. Big differences, making it more than a wink. Very few will recognize Olivier (in fact lengths are taken that make him unrecognizable), and for that reason I don't think the resurrection of dead actors will become epidemic. The kids don't know these people, sad to say.
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#15 of 54 Chris Harvey

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Posted September 19 2004 - 01:06 PM

Quote:
Very few will recognize Olivier (in fact lengths are taken that make him unrecognizable)
]

Except that the production went to the length of putting out a press release announcing their use of him "starring" in their film. Hardly taking a quiet approach to the matter.

I also think the warping, etc was done more to mask them combing various elements of Oliver footage rather than to disguise who it was.

As you said, it's a minor event in this piece, but I still objected to it (perhaps because on the whole I felt SKY CAPTAIN was nothing but homage, to the point of ripoff).

#16 of 54 Steve Felix

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Posted September 19 2004 - 01:12 PM

Quote:
Except that the production went to the length of putting out a press release announcing their use of him "starring" in their film. Hardly taking a quiet approach to the matter.
I didn't realize that -- that is very shady. I try to separate the marketers from the artists when possible, but I don't know where responsibility lies in this case.
Quote:
I also think the warping, etc was done more to mask them combing various elements of Oliver footage rather than to disguise who it was.
Definitely, but the result remains.
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#17 of 54 Henry Gale

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Posted September 19 2004 - 01:18 PM

Quote:
Very few will recognize Olivier (in fact lengths are taken that make him unrecognizable)


Speaking for the very few...
First they showed a photo of the young dashing Larry. Later there was the "holographic head" (older Larry)....followed by the line, "Is it safe" which got a laugh from me.
I was not alive when the early photo of Olivier was taken but I knew damn well who it was.
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#18 of 54 Steve Felix

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Posted September 19 2004 - 01:25 PM

Quote:
Why is it we're always sure we "get" something and the rubes won't?
Personal experience. Maybe I'm hanging with the wrong crowd, but most of my friends wouldn't know Olivier if they had an 8x10 and his initials. Plus, I didn't catch any audience reaction when I saw it.

I don't say they're rubes. I don't require everyone be interested in cimema (although I wish they were).

Edit: And for under 25's, it does take some interest in movies to know even Olivier.
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#19 of 54 Chris Harvey

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Posted September 19 2004 - 03:13 PM

I somewhat misspoke -- I can't find an official press release, merely PR fluff pieces by a variety of news organizations reporting on the Olivier announcement (which was made at Comic Con).

Here's the Beeb's version:

Olivier resurrected for film role

Lord Olivier's career spanned over 50 years

Legendary actor Sir Laurence Olivier is to star in a Hollywood fantasy film, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, 15 years after his death.

Footage of Lord Olivier from various films will be used to create a villainous leader of killer robots in the film due out in September.

New dialogue was recorded by another actor for Lord Olivier's voice.

Jude Law, who stars in the film, said film-makers used Olivier because few other actors possessed his authority.

Robots

"He plays my nemesis. And he's referred to throughout the movie so you know eventually you're going to get to see this bad guy," Law said at the annual Comic-Con International sci-fi convention in the US.

"It builds up, and you only see him in the last minutes, and he's in hologram form."

Law, who plays the Sky Captain, said it was a dream come true to get as close to performing alongside Olivier as possible.

Law is now an A-list Hollywood actor

The film also stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Michael Gambon.

Sky Captain originally started out as a six-minute reel of CGI robots trampling through New York City, put together by first-time director Kerry Conran.

Producer Jon Avnet came across the reel and approached Conran with the idea of turning it into a full-length movie.

Conran did not go to New York while making Sky Captain - he has never visited the city.

He digitally recreated the metropolis using old photographs, some of which were used as backdrops.


#20 of 54 Ricardo C

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Posted September 19 2004 - 05:05 PM

Quote:
I think unless an actor objected to such things, whether specifically or in principle there's no reason to think they would object.

Should people (famous or not) have to specify the ways in which they do NOT want to be desecrated post-mortem? Isn't it easier to just say "well, Sir Lawrence is dead, and with him died his craft", and leave well enough alone?

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