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The Nostalgic Attic: What's So Great About the Star Wars - The Force Awakens Trailer?

19 January 2015

What's So Great About the Star Wars - The Force Awakens Trailer?


Last month saw the release of the teaser trailer for the new Star Wars film - titled Episode VII - The Force Awakens - which is due to land in December of 2015. It's not too common that we'd get something so far in advance, but it really seemed like the perfect Christmas present for fans of the series. The problem is, we've been down this road before with the Lucas-directed prequels, which went quickly from fan-excitement to fan-rage, leaving us in a place where we only half-hoped any more films would get produced for fear of them being as sterile and lifeless as that trilogy was. So what exactly is it about the new teaser that has gotten fans excited about the franchise again?




It's important to remember how much George Lucas pissed off fans of the original films by simply just not allowing them to be available (in their correct aspect ratio, remastered) simply because he felt that; 'they are my films, I'll do what I want with them'. What we got instead were his 're-imagining' of them, complete with new special effects (which most people didn't mind too much) but in some instances, scenes were re-cut in a way that changed character dynamics completely (which most people minded very much). Now, Lucas may have been right in that, yes, they were his films (even though he only directed the first; I doubt Kershner and Marquand had much of a say in anything once the cameras stopped rolling), but the nature of art is this; once it's out there, among the audience, it no longer belongs to the artist, or in this case, the filmmaker. Sure, they still own the rights to it, but what audiences interpret, love and hate about the finished art is nothing that can be helped by the artist at that point. Lucas wanted to control how people saw that art, but it was too late, as fans had several decades to dwell on the films, and he seemed arrogant in his approach to what people should think of his re-releases.

This concept of preserving art was something that Lucas seemingly struggled with; following the release of the tinkered-with originals in cinemas in the mid 90's, it became increasingly hard to find the older, untouched films officially. He claimed that the original negatives were destroyed, leaving no alternative but to have these new cuts. Nobody really believed that excuse, and most still don't. What ensued was a never-ending Internet debate over the films and how Lucas was essentially shitting on film history, and the lacklustre 'prequels' only added fuel to the argument of how the Bearded One had lost the plot. Even a documentary was made on the subject which really seemed to sum it up perfectly; George Lucas on one side of the wrestling ring, and the angry fans on the other.


When the Blu Ray's of the films were finally released, sadly with even more alterations, most fans had pretty much given up on ever seeing the originals untainted. But then, something very interesting happened; Lucas, after a massive flop in the shape of Red Tails, decided it was time to retire from film production altogether, and quickly sold on Lucas Arts to Disney. This was incredible news for fans of the series, as Disney promised to release not only new films in the continued saga, but stand alone, 'spin-off's' too. It didn't take long for J.J. Abrams to get attached as director, and a release date was set for the first film.

So here we are, and we've finally seen the first images from what Abrams has been slaving away on. Watching the teaser (and it is really just that; several images, no on-screen dialogue and no hint of story), it's not hard to see why people are getting excited. Firstly, the film looks great, and not just because it's new and shiny. Abrams has wisely chosen to 'declutter' it, allowing plenty of open space in the pretty looking real locations showcased in the footage seen. There seems to be a complete absence of the annoying, CGI distractions that plagued the prequels and the 'Special Editions'; no rodent-like aliens scurrying around through shots for comedy value, or giant creatures artificially added to scenes just, you know, because they could with computer technology. Even the little robot is apparently a real prop. This all goes to show that you can use the latest technology mixed with location shooting and practical effects, and still come out with something that's cutting edge.

The screen shots above look almost minimalistic in comparison to what Lucas was doing in his prequels, and the fact that they are all shot on location should definitely go some distance in removing it from the cold confinements of Lucas and his green-screens. The teaser also hints at a darker tone, both visually and in terms of story (again, there's really nothing in the teaser, but it's how the info is presented), which is something I'm definitely happy for. I know plenty of Star Trek fans who aren't happy with the Abrams films, which is absolutely fine, but the man can at least get solid performances from a cast (his work with the kids in Super 8 is well worth noting) which should be a nice contrast with the stiff, coma-esque performances from the leads in the Prequels. No doubt we'll see some actual humour in the script, too, instead of the childish sight gags that were present in the likes of The Phantom Menace.


Ultimately, we don't have a lot to go on here, but the early signs are looking good. The important thing for the fans is: Lucas has gone away, and like some fallen monster, the art has been plucked from his grasp and is back into the hands of the fans again. We'll decide if Abrams does anything to improve on what has gone before, and who knows; he might release a clunker. But as a fan of Star Wars, it feels good to be hopeful again, and it's more than I thought I'd have before the teaser.


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2 Comments:

At 19 January 2015 at 07:39 , Blogger The Low Fat Foodie said...

crazy excited for this and excited to see what Abrams brings. I can understand why Star Trek fans wanted him to leave the Kirk origin story alone, but I really enjoyed the films and have high hopes for the new Star Wars film. Star Trek was a reboot and Star Wars will be a sequel...big difference and very little room for Star Wars history rewrites...mind you... Lucas didn't seem to have any problem doing it! I'm sure Abrams is eager to avoid making the same mistakes as Lucas though.

 
At 19 January 2015 at 07:44 , Blogger JP Mulvanetti said...

Yeah, I think many felt Abrams brought too much 'Star Wars' to 'Star Trek' anyway, so maybe he's better suited to this material. I think Abrams is enough of a fanboy himself, so will want to avoid pissing off too many people. No doubt he has spent plenty of time with the originals to get the feel for them.

 

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