Monday, January 16, 2017

How Do You Solve A Problem Like My Leia?

This week Disney and Lucasfilm officials met in secret to try and decide how to proceed with the upcoming Star Wars films, in the wake of the untimely death of actress Carrie Fisher.

Possible Mild Spoilers Ahead...

Princess General Leia had a relatively small part in The Force Awakens, but her role was reportedly going to expand significantly in the subsequent films. Plot details are still sketchy at this time, but it's assumed Leia would reunite with her brother Luke at the end of Episode VIII, and have an epic confrontation with her evil son Kylo Ren in Episode IX. Sadly, Fisher's death kind of throws a monkey wrench into those plans.

So what's Disney supposed to do now? There are three main choices: 1. Replace Fisher with a CGI version (ala Grandma Tarkin in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 2. Simply recast the part of Leia with another actress, or 3. Rewrite the script to reflect Fisher's death. 

None of those options sound particularly appealing. 

A day or two ago Lucasfilm released a statement confirming there absolutely will not be a CGI Leia in the upcoming films. Thank the Maker for that. The CGI Tarkin and Young Leia in Rogue One were stiff, distracting and unconvincing. It was a valiant effort on Industrial Light & Magic's part, but the technology to seamlessly recreate an actual person just isn't quite ready yet.

Lucasfilm didn't confirm exactly what they're going to do yet, but it sounds like they're leaning toward the rewrite route, and will have Leia somehow die the upcoming films. Ugh.

Filming on Episode XIII wrapped last summer, meaning all of Fisher's scenes were filmed before her death. One would think the film would be exempt from rewriting and tinkering, but that's not necessarily the case. It's likely that the film was supposed to end with a climactic reunion between Leia and her twin brother Luke. 

If that's true, then this ending may be scrapped, since Fisher's unable to complete Leia's storyline in Episode IX. This would require major retooling and rewriting of both films, most likely by killing Leia in some sort of offscreen accident (!).

For some reason many Star Wars fans are onboard with this option, as they believe it's the best way to honor Fisher's memory. Please explain to me how killing a major character without even giving her a proper onscreen death somehow honors the actress playing her.

I'm assuming the overall plot of this new trilogy of films was outlined long before The Force Awakens was even filmed. I want to see the movies AS PLANNED, not with a hastily and clumsily written explanation for her absence. I don't want them to go the Hunger Games/Philip Seymour Hoffman route, and have Luke awkwardly read a letter from Leia to Kylo Ren, scolding him for getting involved in all this dark side of the Force business.

I vote that they just recast Leia with another actress. Yes, it'll take a while to get used to a Leia with a new face, but I'd much prefer that to a lame offscreen death that torpedoes the plot.

I don't understand the current stigma against recasting. I get that continuity is important to the geek community, but hey, sh*t happens. Sometimes actors die, and it's necessary to either recast them or call off the whole project.

Other franchises have already recast major roles with no ill effects. Michael Gambon replaced Richard Harris as Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, and the world didn't implode. In fact I'd say that bit of recasting was for the better!

We got a second Rhodey in the Marvel movies, and that worked out just fine. And the rebooted Star Trek films recast Kirk, Spock and the entire crew, with no ill effects (in fact I'd go so far as to say the casting was the best thing about those movies). So why all the resistance (heh) to recasting Leia?

The Force Awakens has already recast a few roles. There was a new actor in the Chewbacca suit in the action scenes, and Rogue One featured a brand new actor as Vader. Granted, these characters were all masked or had their faces covered, so it wasn't that big a deal. The point is, we're fast approaching the day when recasting is going to become a necessity in the Star Wars Universe.

I bet if we could ask Carrie Fisher what she thought Disney should do, she'd say, "Hell, yes, get Meryl Streep to play me! Don't rewrite the damned movies and ruin them on my account!" Except she'd say it with more cursing.

To me it seems like the best way to honor her is to allow her character to continue in the films as planned, instead of saying Leia died from Space Flu between movies.

#recastleia!

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