British comedian and actor Mel Smith laid a bizarre tidbit at the foot of the Daily Mail, saying that 'Star Wars' maestro George Lucas has "... been buying up the film rights to dead movie stars in the hope of using computer trickery to put them all together in a movie, so you'd have Orson Welles and Barbara Stanwyck appear alongside today's stars."
Whoa. Wait. What?!
Smith has worked with Lucas once before, directing the 1994 comedy flop 'Radioland Murders' for the obscenely powerful producer and filmmaker. Exactly how he knows about Lucas' current plans is unknown, meaning that while this is interesting news, it's possibly a long jump from solid truth.
The comment comes in the middle of an interview that can be described as hostile at best. After slamming a former 'Not the Nine O'Clock News' co-star, Smith goes on to say "George doesn't understand comedy, so ['Radioland Murders'] flopped. At least it taught me how to use CGI. George is obsessed with it and used too much in the last two 'Star Wars' films -- which I thought were ghastly."
But let's move away from Smith's snide remarks for a moment and consider the concept being presented here. Imagine it: A modern movie starring digital recreations of all of your favorite deceased movie stars. Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart can team up to solve a crime. James Stewart could romance Eva Marie Saint. Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn could make another screwball comedy -- maybe even with the Marx Brothers! They're all dead! They're not going to put up a fight! Why not?
Maybe because it would be absurdly creepy and would be like dancing on the graves of some of the finest actors who ever lived. Maybe because many modern animated films can't make caricature's sympathetic (dead eyes!), so how can we expect them to recreate such nuanced human beings? Maybe just because they're dead and they have a legacy set in stone and to tamper with that legacy feels like Hollywood treason.
This wouldn't be the first time a deceased actor has been reincarnated through the power of digital technology to take on one final role. That first time was the appearance of Laurence Olivier in the almost forgotten 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,' which amounted to little more than a cameo, but still managed to create a ruckus amongst fans of old school cinema. However, if there is any truth whatsoever to this rumor, it looks like the hugely ambitious Lucas plans to do much more than that.
Would you see a movie starring digital re-creations of famous dead actors? Your heart surely says "no," but your curious brain must be saying "Yes."