At Star Wars: Celebration, armies of fans amassed. Greeted by J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy, they were rewarded with a trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is even more powerful than the original teaser. Star Wars can now reclaim its position as the dominant power in the cinematic universe.
The fact that a single trailer can now be an event is indicative of how movies get made and marketed today. Studios trade on nostalgia and evangelical zeal among hordes of adoring fans. But Star Wars is different; bridging the usually gaping gulf between devoted fanatic and the merely curious, fair-weather franchise friend.
Star Wars IS cinema.
George Lucas’ visionary creation defined our childhood dreams and punctuated collective steps into a ‘wider world’. The series indexes influences on story-telling throughout history. From fairy-tales to westerns; religion and folklore; war films, morality plays, family sagas and screwball comedy: EVERY genre is combined in one epic mythology. And all set to a library of spectacular sound and visual effects with lives of their own.
Does the new trailer honor that legacy? Yes. Here’s why.
Note: This piece is now spoiler-ish so if you have not seen the trailer (liar!), look away now.
Harrison Ford IS Han Solo
Moot the reboot of Indiana Jones all you want, but there is only ONE Han Solo and his name is Harrison Ford. He is older and looks a tad slim and world weary. But the line delivery, body language and presence are all natural. It does not feel contrived. He captures charismatic joy in a snapshot, somehow hinting at an entire backstory in one roguish grin. Even the hair and costume are just ‘right’. Welcome back, Han. What took you so long? We’ll find out in December.
Everything Old is New Again
The trailer plays with familiar images. X Wings; TIE fighters; Imperial Cruisers and sandy landscapes dominate the screen. But subtle shades of distinction punctuate proceedings. There’s the chrome coloured Storm-Trooper and a blood stained helmet. And there are hints at an expanded political landscape (note the Hunger Games moment, where the flag of a dominant galactic power overlooks what seems to be a sci-fi take on a fascist rally).
Balance in the Force
Keeping things too upbeat and light risks minimizing the sense of peril and jeopardy required for any good story to entice an audience. Veering too far to the ‘Dark side’ compromises the awe, wonder and optimism that define Star Wars.
J.J. Abrams has pulled off a perfect balance here: seamlessly fusing darkness to light in tone and pitch.
The villains look genuinely threatening. The good guys (and girls) are outnumbered, outgunned and outdone at various points. And there’s an eerily Gothic vibe at times, with a charred Darth Vader helmet as the possibly mystic ‘MacGuffin’ and a Star Destroyer graveyard as basis for a battle scene set piece.
But youthful energy and optimism pervade the piece; ensuring there is indeed ‘new hope’ on the horizon. Witness the sheer joy in the adventurous X Wing pilot. Giggle at the comic potential of a ball droid, hiding in a corner of that beloved ship. Rejoice as a hand of helpful friendship is extended in the heat of battle. THAT is the spirit of Star Wars.
Patience, You Must Have
Make a cameo appearance here, Yoda does not. But his ethic is alive and well. The trailer MAKES you want more answers and fast; whilst testing resolve and discipline. One is left guessing deliberately, on a number of fronts. This trailer shows more than the initial teaser yet raises MORE questions. You’ll have to WAIT for more details, having been spoiled as it is.
Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker narrates the trailer, off-screen. Where is Luke? Is he talking to a family member /apprentice? Who is holding the Vader helmet? The villains look familiar; but are they a unified band and do they constitute a new threat or resurrect an ancient evil? Is Princess Leia still married to Han Solo, or did they consciously uncouple? Whatever happened to Jar Jar..(ok; that’s enough).
All will be revealed come December. And Movie-Viral will be there with you, every step of the way.
This will be a ‘day long remembered’: the joyous reveal of a truly special trailer. Long live Star Wars!
‘Chewie, we’re home!’
Words: James Murphy (space scoundrel)
Format: Kevin Costain (wise Jedi)