Assassin's Creed: Michael Fassbender Explains Animus Redesign

Assassins Creed Animus design

The trailer for Assassin's Creed has finally landed! The movie, set to debut in December, was directed by Justin Kurzel (Macbeth) and stars Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch, a convict who is sentenced to death but rescued from execution by Abstergo Industries. The modern day front for the Templars, Abstergo is interested in unlocking Callum's genetic memory and forcing him to relive the memories of his ancestor, a 15th century Assassin called Aguilar who operated during the Spanish Inquisition.

Callum accesses his heritage by means of a machine called the Animus, which in the video game source material was a nice comfortable chair in which the subject could lay back and dream of the past. Not so in the film; the trailer showed that the Animus is a machine that lifts the subject high into the air - presumably in order to better facilitate the experience of the virtual reality world.

Screen Rant was fortunate enough to visit the set of Assassin's Creed last year, during which Michael Fassbender addressed the radical redesign of the Animus and why the decision was made to change it.

"We just didn’t want to have something where I sit into a seat. Number one, we’ve seen it before in The Matrix. And it’s also just not a very dramatic experience when we’re doing the modern day version of the regression. We wanted to have something where the character is actually physically involved in it...

"[Production designer] Andy [Nicholson] and Justin have really come up with something very interesting. Talking to Ubisoft, I think they are thinking perhaps of sort of adopting some of these ideas. But definitely just not have it not so much as Cal being a passenger in a chair, basically. We wanted to have something more interactive for that character in the present-day stuff."

Assassin's Creed II - The Animus
The Animus as it appeared in Assassin's Creed II

Based on Fassbender's explanation, it sounds like Callum will mimic the movements of Aguilar in the Animus as he relives his ancestor's memories. It also appears that the machine is plugged into him at the back of his neck - perhaps taking inspiration from The Matrix. Furthermore, another clip from the trailer showed Callum practising with a bow and arrow, which suggests that while he experiences life as Aguilar he also picks up certain skills. This was a big feature of the early games, particularly Assassin's Creed II, which took breaks from the historical storyline to show the modern protagonist trying out his newly acquired skills in the "real world".

It's certainly a bold and interesting departure from the games, but one that looks pretty cool in execution. Hopefully the rest of the film will feature a similar blend of respect for the source material and willingness to explore new ground.

Assassin's Creed arrives in theaters on December 21st, 2016.

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