With the release of Ender's Game just a few months away, we here at IGN have a preview of our Ender's Game set visit at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where we got a firsthand look at Lionsgate's sci-fi military feature.
While touring the various sets and offices with producer Roberto Orci, we got to chat with a number of the cast members, including Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Nonso Anozie and Sir Ben Kingsley. We also sat down with director Gavin Hood, who gave us a thorough rundown of how he went about adapting Orson Scott Card's classic novel Ender's Game.
According to Hood, his personal connection to the book derived from his own past in the military, much like Ender Wiggin's in the book. "I was drafted when I was 17 years old, and [Ender's Game] had a profound effect on me," he said. "I connected with this book in many ways, based on feelings and experiences that I have had. I also really think that the ideas and themes of leadership in the book, and hopefully in the movie, are timeless and classic: What makes good leadership? What is bad leadership? What is responsible leadership? So what I love about the book is that it's both an epic adventure, a fantastic coming-of-age story... I'm interested in those defining moments in a character's life where they choose a path or they're compelled to reflect on a path they've chosen. Those are fascinating moments to me, those defining moments of encountering something where you're truly confronted with yourself and aspects of yourself that you may not necessarily like."
Since it was first published in 1985, Ender's Game has garnered a strong following and a dedicated fanbase. Hood explained that, as a fan himself, he wanted to make sure he created a film that would loyally translate the book on-screen.
Hood continued, "So often there are films that we go to, and they're fantastic and they're fun and wonderful, but it's like, 'Well, that was great. You wanna get pizza?', as opposed to a story like Ender's Game, where kids really talk about it: 'What do you think about the way Ender made that decision, and is that right? Was he too violent, or wasn't he?' These are important conversations, I think, for young people to engage in in an exciting way. If you can deliver that kind of debate and conversation in an exciting, visually powerful way, then I think you're getting a little more than just spectacle."
The director added that it hasn't been easy condensing all of the novel's plot elements into a one movie. Creatively, he said, some changes had to be made, including a more economic portrayal of Ender's siblings, Peter (played by Jimmy "Jax" Pinchak) and Valentine (Abigail Breslin), back on Earth. "In any adaptation of a book to a film format of two hours, you face the terrible reality of 'something's gotta go,'" Hood said. "So what goes? And what are the core themes that really resonate? So we have to be honest and say that in order to create a film of two hours, you're not going to do what might be a 13-episode experience."
Another challenge for Hood was casting the kids. In the book, Ender is enrolled at Command School at age six, and ages throughout the story. Meanwhile, Butterfield, who plays Ender in the film, was 15 at the time of filming. "In the book, the kids' ages range from six to I think 13," Hood noted. "Do you cast a 6-year-old and then an 8-year-old and then a 10-year-old and then a 12-year-old? A filmmaking experience is very different from reading a book. It is a contained two-hour experience in which you have a beginning, middle and an end, and you leave before your bladder bursts. Those are the facts, right? So the medium is different.
"One of the things I think we have to own up to is that saying 'Is the movie like the book?' -- wait a minute, the book is the book. It exists, and it can never be taken away. It is a different experience to sit and read over a period of weeks or days, chapter by chapter, put it down, reflect, pick it up. So that is why movies are based on books. They can't be the book."
In the case of Ender's Game, the book is presented in a third-person limited perspective, so much of the novel deals with Ender's thought process. For Hood, this was his third, and perhaps most difficult, challenge. "Films where characters are deeply reflective, you have to find scenes and moments -- not just lines and dialogue, which is kind of the most cumbersome way of doing it -- you have to find the moments that float underneath the lines and between the lines and the way these two characters react," he said. "What's the body language -- which is what acting is all about -- that reveals that internal thought process, as opposed to what's the description and verbalization of the thought process? That's what great acting is. It's that moment when that awkwardness from that little actor tells you volumes in an unspoken way."
Keep an eye out for IGN's entire Ender's Game set visit write-up later this year, closer to the film's November 1 release. Until then, stay tuned for even more coverage of Ender's Game.
Source : ign[dot]com