No doubt everyone is getting tired of all the The Force Awakens hype from over the past few days, with the arrival of the last proper trailer and some tantalising hints of the events of the first film in this new trilogy. I was swept up in the excitement the night before the trailer dropped in the UK – constantly checking what time it would finally arrive across the pond.
I’m a shameless unabashed Star Wars fan, and have been for the best part of my 30 years. My grandad, Pop (my Mum’s Dad), often had the first trilogy playing when I went round, and it began a lifelong appreciation of two elements – the films themselves and the theme music. Star Wars has shaped and led my film and genre interests ever since, and has made me excited about fantasy and science fiction. It’s true that I don’t just ‘like’ things – I obsess, or develop a deep love and affection for things – like many geeks and nerds tend to. That definitely describes my connection with the films, and the Star Wars universe in general. I wouldn’t describe myself as a collector or fan-fic type of fan, but I definitely appreciate the culture around the films. Plus there were the open air concerts that my family occasionally went to which always, without fail, ended with the Star Wars suite and fireworks.
Episode I-III were great cinema moments for me, because I got to go to the cinema and actually felt like they were part of my adulthood. Whilst some people don’t exactly give glowing reviews about the Episodes, they filled in a lot of mythology and made the struggles of Anakin, Padme and the Jedi Order more immediate. And though I don’t consider them the best films of the series (that goes to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), it was a great time, and I felt sad that Pop wasn’t alive to see the resurgence. I don’t know if he would have liked them, but he would have gone to see them.
When I first discovered that a new trilogy was being made, set 30 years later, my first thoughts – well, mainly feelings! – were of of pure excitement. As time has gone on, that has just become the main feeling associated with seeing these films, because the trailer this week was absolutely how I wished the Episodes had been – much more dusty, clunky (in terms of technology), a lot of heart and focus on story and the characters. The best thing is that we don’t know all that much about the story anyway, which just creates more anticipation and speculation, which is the best thing about going to a movie. Trailers now usually give away the story completely. So it’s refreshing to have that hype and still have the freedom to wonder what the major story is going to be.
There are mixed feelings, of course – is it better to have left it alone or is every new trilogy a good thing? With Luke Skywalker especially, there is lots of speculation around whether or not he will be in the first film, but it’s very likely he will be – and possibly not in a good way. A few writers and commentators have offered alternative perspectives of how the original trilogy ended – it may have pointed to a darker truth that in general, the Skywalker Jedis tend to embrace or struggle with the dark side. So – will Luke Skywalker become a Sith Lord? Or will he be a more ‘Yoda’ kind of character? It’s the kind of sad but intriguing story twist that could put a huge spanner in the works.
I also feel that the diversity of this first film is excellent – with both John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, it looks like the film will bring the casting into the twenty-first century (and just a note to say that the boycott is ridiculous, and a symptom of people not willing to move with the times, not to mention – privilege!). One of the authors I’ve been following for a while, Chuck Wendig, has also written a trilogy of books as part of the new canon. It ends after the events of Return of the Jedi and the first ebook, Aftermath, is already out to buy. It doesn’t follow the main characters, but is a kind of side-slip into the universe and how all the political and social upheaval has affected ‘common’ people, so to speak. It’s great so far – I’ll be reviewing it once I’m finished. I bring this up because Aftermath also reflects a far more diverse Star Wars universe – hopefully a sign of things to come.
There is a subtitled trailer here.
*All images © Lucasfilm, Disney.