‘Tomb Raider’ Star Alicia Vikander Goes Virtual Reality With ‘Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall’

Courtesy of Penrose Studios

Alicia Vikander may be best known for her leading role in the current “Tomb Raider” reboot, but the Swedish actress is taking a first step into the world of virtual reality (VR) with “Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall,” the new animated feature from San Francisco’s Penrose Studios that is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival this month.

“This project is unlike anything I’ve ever done before, and I think virtual and augmented reality are going to be big in Hollywood, as well as entertainment more broadly,” said Vikander.

In “Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall,” Vikander is voicing the role of Meena, a young woman who lives with her father on a lighthouse that floats somewhere on top of what at one point used to be New York city. The dichotomy between Meena’s post-apocalyptic world and her idyllic home, full of pictures and childhood memories, sets the tone for the entire piece, which touches on motives of family, loss and personal growth.

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Courtesy of Penrose Studios

Alicia Vikander recording the voice of Meena for “Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall.”

“Meena’s character has a special spark, and I was immediately drawn to her when I experienced her in VR,” Vikander said. “The movie daringly brings up difficult situations while also allowing viewers to get quite close to the characters in such an immersive and emotional experience. I am thrilled to help bring Meena’s character to life.”

Penrose Studios first debuted a preview version of “Arden’s Wake” at Tribeca last year, and incorporated some of those storylines into the final version that it is unveiling this year. The entire piece, which measures close to 30 minutes, changed quite a bit after Vikander brought her voice to Meena’s character, said Penrose founder and CEO Eugene Chung. “We were able to take this to the next level and have her voice infuse the whole piece.”

“Everyone outside of the sound booth gave a standing ovation” after Vikander had recorded her take, he recalled.

“Arden’s Wake: The Prologue” ended up winning the first Lion for Best VR from the Venice Film Festival last year, but was never distributed to consumers. Chung said that his company is still finalizing its plans for distributing “Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall,” but said that his company had seen a lot of interest from location-based VR operators for its work as well.

To that end, “Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall” already incorporates redirected walking, allowing consumers to freely explore the set of the story while at the same time gently nudging them to say within a pre-defined are. This involves letting viewers walk in curves when they think they are following a straight line, revealed Chung.

“Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall” feels very much like a standalone piece, but is being billed by Penrose as part of a series. That’s in part because the studio built a lot of Meena’s world before it finished the story, with the potential to extend it even further in future sequels. “We built the world first,” Chung said. “There is many more stories to be told.”