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Battle School

Ah, Battle School. When we first saw their concept art and images, I was excited. I’d imagined a pretty dull looking gray cylinder and while people are actually complaining that it should have looked like this, I’d like to remind those folks that this is 2013. We owe it to ourselves not to portray the future as if we were still living in the eighties.

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The living quarters of the school are in the rings “above” the Battle Room. Gravity is maintained in the school with rotation, so the Battle Room remains stationary with the school spinning around it, leaving the room with zero gravity.

The outer look of Battle School aside, they gave us a good look at the inside of the school and a taste for the atmosphere the kids live in. We were shown slides of the Dragon Army barracks both lit and at night. As we’ve seen in the barracks still, their bunks are next to lockers which have mechanisms to lock their desks into place. In the lockers are places for things such as their gear, flash gun, towels, etc. Their helmets are stored in an upper compartment. We later got to tour the barracks and see some of the items that Hendee explained they got from the “NASA junkyard”, no doubt saving them a lot in terms of budget for sets.

A slide of the cafeteria, which we’ve already seen in the still of Salamander Army, showed us a glimpse of the scoreboard, which Orci says serves a purpose, “You’re always keeping track of the scores. […] You’re always aware of the competition and of who’s where in the rankings.”

We were shown a different image of the Battle School classrooms than what you see above and while discussing this slide, producer Linda McDonough commented that this particular scene is where Alai is teased for his funny walk, indicating that the character Shen, for whom there is no character in the film, is still present in others. The course being taught is a history of the Formic attacks. It was interesting to see this since it’s only referred to in passing in the novel.

We see a still of Bonzo standing on a table and another of him standing with a glaring Fly Molo. Since Brandon Soo Hoo has said that he’s glaring in the Dragon Army barracks because he’s supposed to be angry with Ender, it’s definitely possible that Fly Molo and Bonzo are close.

We get to some stills of the shower scene, which I’m guessing some of you were wondering about. Would it be heavily toned down? Would it be cut out entirely? The answer to that question is no. The scene is intact, but instead of Dink yelling from the door, we have Petra being held back by Bonzo’s goons. While Ender is indeed naked in the scene, there won’t be any nudity.

The Battle Room

As we all know by now, the Battle Room is transparent, but that doesn’t mean the room is always lit up. “Sometimes the battles can be in the dark, sometimes they can be in the light of day,” said Orci. “It just gave it this scope that seemed to be practical for the fact that they’re training these kids to operate in space.”

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One of the more interesting aspects of the school’s design is that Graff’s office overlooks the Battle Room and that he is able to control the configuration of the stars as he sees fit, which is a slight departure from the film where Anderson seems to be in charge of configuring the unique battle situations. Since Anderson is described as the school’s psychologist, it’s not surprising to hear that Graff controls the battles instead of her. He can change the configuration of the magnetic stars at the push of a button. This makes me wonder if we’ll see some kind of battle where Graff alters the stars in mid-battle, perhaps to show how the rules of the battles begin to change for Ender in order to push him harder. There is only one Battle Room in the film.

In a slide which I presumed was Ender’s promotion to Commander of Dragon Army, we see a profile of Ender that notes he is age 11 at that point. Since we’ve heard from director Gavin Hood that approximately a year passes during the film, it sounds like Ender could have been 10 when he was taken from his home.

For the zero g scenes, the producers admitted they were at a bit of a loss as to how they could film it and it turns out that being able to portray these scenes may have been one of the things keeping the project in limbo all these years. “Scott was always worried about the Battle Room and traditional wires. He was obsessed in a good way about how you can always see the points where they’re connecting. […] He really wanted to simulate zero g,” said producer Lynn Hendee about author Orson Scott Card. “It was very, very important to him.”

They also admitted that the movie taking this long was probably for the best. After his set visit, Card himself commented about it to Hendee, “I am happy,” he said. “I’m happy we didn’t get the movie made until now.”

Thankfully, Hendee knew Garrett Warren, who had been the stunt coordinator for James Cameron’s mega movie Avatar. Warren had spent over a decade researching and developing the wire rigs they used to film the kids in simulated zero gravity. They hired Cirque du Soleil acrobats to be doubles for the actors as well, but in order to avoid doing too many face replacements, the kids did a lot of the scenes themselves. “We had to train these actors for weeks to float around on their own, “said Orci. “That’s why we built so many of the sets practically, which you don’t always see nowadays.”

Warren had created a short video for us to watch and in it we got to see a couple of scenes, such as Bonzo shoving his army members out into the Battle Room and Ender shoving Bernard. Their motions were amazingly gracious and fluid and when the video ended, Orci happily proclaimed, “We might just get away with it!”

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7 Comments »

  1. Wendy Clare says:

    THANK YOU!! I don’t mind the length…all your words are a banquet to our starving fan souls, and It only increases my excitement for this film. My gratitude for the wealth of details knows no bounds. 😀 <

  2. Bruna Figueiroa says:

    Awesome!! Can’t wait to read the rest

  3. […] behind-the-scenes looks at the movie! Check out posts from the folks at io9, Slash Film, Collider, EnderWiggin.net, and Ender’s Ansible, to name just a […]

  4. […] Wiggin: Straight from the Set Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.2, Part […]

  5. […] Wiggin: Straight from the Set Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.2, Part […]

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