Although I have always manifested as a strong advocate of practical effects in the old way, it is impossible not to recognize the infinite range of possibilities that the CGI – or, even better, its combination with VFX of a lifetime – has offered both the big and the small screen. But, like everything in this life, digital effects are also a cluster of lights and shadows.
Computer generated images –Computer Generated Imagery in the language of Shakespeare – they have allowed us to visit remote times and impossible worlds, meet extraordinary creatures and immerse ourselves in battles that transcend the limits of our imagination; but this technology is making way for certain practices in which the technique is eclipsed by ethical and moral chiaroscuros.
With the latter I am referring to the resurrection of great stars of pixel-based interpretation. A trend that is increasingly taking a presence in the audiovisual industry and that has once again stirred public opinion after learning that the feature film 'Finding Jack' will bring James Dean back – or, more specifically, to his digital version – to star in his fourth film more than six decades after his death.
Numerous precedents, but radically different
Of course, this is not the first time that a production pulls CGI to bring back a deceased actor or actress. In the loose list that illustrates this are names like those of Peter Cushing —'Rogue One'—, Philip Seymour Hoffman —'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. Part 2'-, Paul walker —'Fast and Furious 7'—, Oliver Reed —'Gladiator'— or Nancy Marchand "The Sopranos"; but Dean's is a very different matter.
In all the cases mentioned, each resurrection is seen justified by the needs arising from sudden deaths during the production of the film or series in question – Seymour Hoffman, Reed or Marchand -, by an honest will to tribute —Walker— or by the return of an iconic character like Cushing's Grand Moff Tarkin.
The only apparent explanation for the resurrection of James Dean is none other than the simple and simple commercial exploitation. A desperate maneuver to get attention that It aligns with advertising campaigns such as Johhnie Walker, Galaxy or Dior, who used the image of Bruce Lee, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe – among others – to advertise whiskey, chocolate and perfume respectively.
Evaluating only the premise of 'Finding Jack', which will be based "In the real existence and abandonment of more than 10,000 dog units at the end of the Vietnam War", to tell the story of a soldier who will become the best friend of a labrador dog, everything points to that The decision to "sign" James Dean is anything but justified. In fact, the explanation of the film's co-director is not having found any actor at the height of the role.
For more inri, the work of the digital version of the ill-fated star of the golden age of Hollywood will not be limited to a timely cameo, but will be that of give life – so to speak – to the most important secondary character of the script. A real nonsense possible thanks to the consent – and, probably, to a more than juicy economic agreement – with Dean's family.
The case of 'Finding Jack' reopens with more force than ever the debate about ethics – or rather the lack of it – related to this praxis, radically different in practical as well as moral effects from that of facial rejuvenation of active actors, with whom it shares essence; the latter being an updated tool that intends to replace latex, makeup or physical similarities how good results they have given Mike Flanagan in his spectacular 'Doctor Dream'.
In the absence of checking how it has come out to Martin Scorsese the risky bet of making De Niro travel back in time and company in 'The Irish', It is more than evident the lack of solidity of this type of techniques today – which usually give quite creepy and unnatural results, everything is said. But, perhaps, the biggest nonsense of his employment in situations like Dean's is that, unlike in the "liftings"CGI, there will be nothing of the actor that supports his performance, only a digital mask will be applied on the face of an imitator.
As they say, a powerful gentleman is a gift of money, and it cannot be denied that the team responsible for 'Finding Jack' has been very smart to put your project on the radar without even needing a promotional image. A new sample of how marketing is devouring the seventh art glaring bigger and bigger, this time camouflaged in the seemingly revolutionary form of a dreadful cinephile necrophilia.