Ender's Game Producer Roberto Orci On The Mind Game, Graff And Kids At War

By Kelly West 2012-05-19 12:26:18discussion comments
Last week, via the Ender's Game production blog, Roberto Orci invited fans of Orson Scott Card's novel to ask questions about the movie. A handful of questions were selected and answered this week, giving us some insight into the production of the film, including Orci's favorite scene from the book and the relationship between Ender and Colonel Graff.

Some spoilers if you haven't read Ender's Game. (And if you haven't, I highly recommend picking it up.)

For those of you who haven't heard, more than two decades after Card's novel was published, Ender's Game is (finally) being adapted into a movie, and one that will hopefully live up to the source material. The story is set in the future and follows a child who's selected to attend Battle School, a space-set training facility for kids preparing to fight an alien race referred to as Buggers. Hugo's Asa Butterfield is set to play the title character, while Harrison Ford is on board to play Colonel Graff. Speaking of Ender and Graff, the picture included in this week's Ender's Game production blog entry gives us a look at their uniform name tags.



It's interesting to note that their names are included in braille there, though I don't expect there are many visually impaired people in battle school. Then again, who knows?

In Ender's Game, as you may recall, part of Ender's experience in Battle School is playing a game on his desk (a tablet sort of device) which has him facing various obstacles and puzzles. While it seems like a video game, it's actually a way for the higher-ups to further analyze Ender's frame of mind and leadership abilities. And as the reader, it allows us to understand him better in a sort of metaphoric kind of way. Orci brings up the Mind Game in response to a question about his favorite scenes in the book and movie…
I always loved the scenes within the Mind Game that Ender believes he plays for recreation in the orbiting battle school.  Part video game, part psychological test, and if you know the book, part something extraordinary that shouldn’t be given away for those who have not read the book.  As for my favorite scene from the movie, we are still filming it so I haven’t seen it yet!  

It's great to hear him talk about the Mind Game, as it's one of the things I'm most anticipating seeing in the film. Given that the book was published in the mid-80's, and despite the fact that it was ahead of its time with regards to some of the technology referenced, I have sort of a dated impression of how the Mind Game looks in the story. So I'm very interested to see how it will look in the movie.

Another one of my favorite aspects of the story, which was addressed in the questions Orci answered had to do with Graff and Ender's relationship. In the novel, Graff has faith that Ender is the one meant to save humanity from the from the Buggers and he supports Ender in that respect, making decisions for Ender that he believes will be in the best interest of the fleet and humanity as a whole. From what Orci says, it sounds like he's well aware of how vital this relationship is to the story…
The relationship between Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and Ender (Asa Butterfield) is key to the movie’s success.  Graff would love nothing more than to be Ender’s friend, yet Graff can’t always show it because he has to make it clear to Ender that in the event of another alien invasion, there will be no one available to help him.  Their relationship is simultaneously heartbreaking and fun.

Heartbreaking and fun. That's certainly an interesting way to describe it! For a story that involves kids being separated from their parents and set up to prepare to save the world from aliens, it's easy to see the line between the adults and the kids in the novel. The adults are in charge and the kids are essentially being manipulated and forced into situations no child should have to face. Graff has to make some tough calls with regards to Ender's training, but as the story progresses we begin to see the connection between Graff and Ender. The mission matters, but so does the child. Finding a balance between those two things is what makes Graff such an interesting character. He's not merely a hardened soldier with a job to do, but also sort of a guardian. It's this kind of character development that makes Ender's Game so great and it's good to hear that this isn't something that's being overlooked or downplayed.

On the subject of kids being put into war-related scenarios, one fan asked Orci whether Ender's Game will be a movie for adults, about kids, or a kids movie. I don't think any of us want to see the story watered down or sugar-coated in an effort to make it more kid-friendly than the source material intended. It sounds like there will be a balance of serious material and possibly some lighter moments…
Like the book, the movie Ender’s Game is about young protagonists dealing with one of the most adult situations known to man: WAR.  We don’t soft peddle it, yet we don’t shy away from the fun of being in space and learning amazing new skills that we would all want to learn at any age.  

It's good to hear they won't be soft-peddling it. And as for the "fun of being in space," I hope that's a vague reference to the battle room scenes, which I doubt I'm alone in being very excited to see brought to life.

There are a couple of other questions answered, one of which has Orci mentioning Gavin Hood's appreciation for Kubrick, and another in which he mentions an amusing-sounding incident involving Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfield getting the giggles while floating above the set during shooting. You can read about that here.

Ender's Game is scheduled to arrive in theaters November 1, 2013. More information about the film can be found in our Blend Film Database.
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