Another movie starring Harrison Ford (who seems to be out of retirement), Ender’s Game is a book by Orson Scott Card in which a boy named Ender is chosen to train to fight aliens. (Trust me, the book is much better than that sentence). Coming out on November 1, 2013, the movie stars Asa Butterfield (Hugo) as Ender Wiggin, Ben Kingsley as Mazer Rackham and Harrison Ford as Colonel Hyrum Graff. Also starring other child actors (like Abigail Breslin or Moises Arias); the film has been dubbed as one of the greatest casting choices in various message boards. It sounds like a great idea, but many people are concerned how close the movie will stay to the book, how much CGI and special effects will be needed, and just how the movie will be portrayed- a kid’s movie with minimal violence or with the violence kept as in the book.
Orson Scott Card recently visited the set to record his cameo (he says a line off screen as a pilot) and he wrote an article describing his experience in The Rhino Times. He states that it’s hard work doing a thirty second scene since it ends up taking hours. On his cameo voiceover, he states, “The scene does not come from the book- very few of the scenes in this movie do- so it was amusing when others asked me how it felt to have my book brought to life. My book was already alive in the mind of every reader. This is writer-director Gavin Hood’s movie, so they were his words, and it was his scene.” Since his cameo voiceover takes place with Ford and Butterfield, he states, “And they were superb. Film acting, especially in closeup, is not about facial expressions. It’s about what’s going on behind the actors’ eyes. And it’s about timing. . . .On the set, however, it was wonderful to see how Ford and Butterfield responded to each other’s timing. It was such a delicate dance- and they worked together perfectly. . . . The scene may or may not work as planned; for all I know, it might not end up in the movie. But if it’s there, the audience will experience it as reality- we won’t stop and think of all the many different ways it could have played. But the actors thought of it, and almost every one of the different ways they played it worked well.”
He later goes on to state how remarkable Ford is of an actor and how convincing and intelligent Butterfield is- stating if the movie does poorly, it will not be his fault. Card then states he went touring around the different sets. “Again, they were not building, so I wasn’t seeing my ideas brought to life. Their job was to build the scenery dreamed up by Gavin Hood for his story, and they have done a wonderful job. I love looking at well-designed sets- tough enough to be safe for the actors to work on, yet not wasting a dime on anything that won’t show on camera. Haworth and Procter are a great team. . . . The movie Ender’s Game is going to look great.”
Card and other fans have wondered how the battle room will take place. (The battle room is a zero gravity room where people basically move free, but can control their movements by pushing off walls and other objects). Card states, “But the real challenge has always been the freefall movement of the kids in the battle room. Traditional wire work, as in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Spiderman, simply won’t work in the battle room, because wires absolutely depend on gravity. That is, they allow actors to defy gravity, but the gravity is still there, revealed in every movement of the actors. In the battle room, with gravity nullified, there is no up or down. Bodies have to move in ways dependent on inertia, not on gravity. So I always assumed that the battle room would be filmed by animating the human figures and then pasting the actors’ face onto the result, figuratively speaking.” He later goes on saying how Garrett Warren, the stunt coordinator, worked on Avatar, stating that the actors and certain gymnasts would wear a wheel around their waists, which was attached by a wire, allowing the person to turn and maneuver whichever way they wished. Card then states that although this is a proper way to begin, it depended a lot on the actors themselves, they must remember how to turn and keep their limbs while not actually moving themselves.
“For the most difficult stunts, Warren brought in dancer from Cirque de Soleil. Being gymnasts by training, they tend to be small- they can bring off the illusion of children’s bodies. . . .But all the children playing these roles had to d wire work themselves. Fitted with the wheel rigs, they were being moved through space like puppets- and at every moment, they had to make sure their “nonvolitional” movements followed the rules of inertia-driven rather than gravity-driven motion. It was agonizing. Human muscles aren’t meant to work like that. And Warren was watching everything, playing it back again and again, catching any false movements. Get it wrong? Then you do it again. . . . Their suffering on the wires in the battle room helped them bond into a team. On the wires, there were no stars, no grunts. Everybody had to learn the same skills, do the same moves. They were equals. So filming the battle room did the same job for the cast that the battle room itself was intended to do for the young students in the fictional Battle School- form them into cohesive teams.”