The Congress Animates Robin Wright in a Future Movie World
May 31, 2014

The Congress is a intriguing-looking movie directed by Ari Folman coming from Drafthouse Films. It’ll be in theaters on August 29 but available first digitally on July 24. It stars Robin Wright, playing a version of herself as an aging actress who’s scanned to create a digital likeness. At some point, there’s also a good deal of animation, as shown in the trailer:

The movie also stars Harvey Keitel as her agent; Danny Huston as the studio head; Jon Hamm as an animator; and Paul Giamatti as a doctor. It’s interesting to see a film tackle the possibilities of a future Hollywood, where a likeness can be made to do anything without those tricky actors having a say.

2 Responses  
Ralf Haring writes:  

I’ve been anticipating this ever since I saw the trailer last year. It’s a fascinating concept from two perspectives.

On the technological end it is only a hair’s breadth away from being commonplace. Laurence Olivier’s cg-animated head starred in Sky Captain ten years ago. Gene Kelly is shilling for Volkswagen and Audrey Hepburn for Galaxy chocolate. Tupac and Elvis are playing live shows again. There’s really no reason an actor wouldn’t try to sell themselves at different points in their life. It will be a strange kind of immortality, seeing the same child actor playing in current movies all throughout your life. An actress could appear at any age she’s been, at any time, even simultaneously, like Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy. They’ll be doing it for an audience’s entire life and also long after they’re dead. Filmmakers like Zemeckis and Cameron are pioneering this exact way of working. Likeness rights are handled differently than copyright, but last for similarly long terms. They’re even governed on a state-to-state basis so in Indiana they’re 100 years after death while they’re 75 in California. I’m sure that will eventually have to become standardized at a federal level, and that’s just in the US.

From a social perspective, the choice of using an actress was surely not accidental. The movie business is notorious for discarding women early and often, leaving them languishing for years until they can play the mother or the grandmother, while callously continuing to cast men in the same increasingly ludicrous leading roles from their 20s through their 60s (and sometimes 70s). If that attitude persists – and a healthier attitude towards showing all people aging normally/gracefully would obviously be preferred – this type of technology would be a way for actresses to combat that kind of sexism.

Johanna writes:  

Great points. I get hints that they’re going to address the second part, of women being thought old for the business much too soon, from the trailer.


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