© Drafthouse Films/Everett/REX
Robin Wright is turned into a digital scan in Ari Folman's The Congress.
Robin Wright is standing in the middle of a huge geodesic dome of LEDs and cameras, giving her very last performance. As she sobs bitterly, her every move and micro-expression is scanned. Later an artificial version of the actress will be created to take her place in all of her future films; the real Robin Wright will be redundant.
Princess Bride fans needn't panic just yet, though. The scene is from Ari Folman's new film The Congress
- a trippy, dystopian vision of a future in which artifice has displaced reality. But it is a future that may be closer than we think.
Virtual characters in films are nothing new. The first - a computer-generated knight - appeared in The Young Sherlock
in 1985, and since then we've seen everything from artificial extras in Titanic
to detailed motion-capture characters such as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings.
And while some virtual human faces still creep us out (Polar Express
, anyone?), a few have graced our screens without us even realising. Brad Pitt's reverse-ageing process in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
, for example, was created not with prosthetics but with computer-generated imagery (CGI).