When it comes to movies based on video games, there’s always a concern among fans that the end result will be unfaithful to the source material; after all the video game movie genre has a pretty poor track record so far. Video game developer and publisher Ubisoft has been burned once before with the adaptation of its classic platformer Prince of Persia, which, in addition to receiving poor reviews from critics, is also by far the worst box office flop in the history of movies based on video games – purely in terms of how big its budget was, and how relatively small the returns were.
This previous experience was no doubt one of the key motivations behind Ubisoft setting up its own film production company, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, and taking charge of its biggest franchises’ transition to the big screen – starting with the biggest Ubisoft franchise of all, historical sci-fi series Assassin’s Creed. Though producer and star Michael Fassbender had never played any of the Assassin’s Creed games when he boarded the project, and director Justin Kurzel only dipped into the series after he was hired, Ubisoft was on hand to offer a great deal of creative input and resources.
While we know the bare bones of the movie’s plot – that former Death Row inmate Callum Lynch (Fassbender) is taken prisoner by the enigmatic Abstergo Industries and forced to relive the memories of his ancestor, a 15th century Spanish Assassin called Aguilar (also Fassbender) – some aspects of the movie’s storyline, and how it relates to the video games, have remained unclear. One of the biggest questions has been whether core elements of the game’s mythos – including the ancient artifacts known as the Apples of Eden, their godlike creators, and the First Civilization that stole – will also be core elements in the movie.
One thing we can confirm is that an Apple of Eden will be in the movie, and may play a prominent role. During a visit to the set of Assassin’s Creed, production designer Andy Nicholson told us that the Apple is one of the most obvious elements from the games that fans will notice, and there is further evidence that it may play a significant role in the movie’s plot.
For those unfamiliar with the games, the Apples of Eden are ancient artifacts, created by an extinct race of highly advanced beings that later came to be recognized as gods. Whoever holds an Apple can use it to wield powerful and potentially terrible influence; according to the game lore, historical figures who have possessed an Apple include Napoleon Bonaparte, Elizabeth I, Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Nikola Tesla and Harry Houdini. Much of the centuries-old conflict between the Assassins and Templars has been a power struggle for control of these artifacts, so it makes sense that Abstergo would want to access Cal’s genetic memory as a means of finding an Apple.
According to Nicholson, the Apple is seen in at least one place in the movie: an Assassin den, which is a castle in Spain. “It’s a place that’s important to [the Assassins],” Nicholson said. “With a couple of ancient artifacts in the middle of it which just speak of the early First Civilization.” The location is apparently used in the movie’s opening sequence, as part of Cal’s first regression, but the artifacts themselves could well crop up at other points in the movie.
This is further evidenced by the use of apple imagery in the film. ComingSoon attended a screening of some footage from the movie, including a scene in which Cal is “executed” and the priest reads Robert Frost’s poem “After Apple Picking”. Kurzel explained that, “It was actually Michael who found the poem… Hidden in that poem was ‘protect the apple’. ‘Protect the artifact’. We loved the ambiguity of it and the sort of codedness of it.” And if that was too subtle, the footage also showed that upon first waking in the Abstergo facility, Cal comes across an arboretum (pictured above) and picks an apple from an apple tree.
Put all together, the evidence suggests that the Apples of Eden and the First Civilization will at the very least be a strong presence in the movie’s background mythos, and could very will be a driving force within the plot.
Assassin’s Creed arrives in theaters on December 21st, 2016.