“A long time ago, in a a galaxy far, far away…”
By now, the carefully contained excitement that has been building up about The New Star Wars Film, that picks up 30 years after where The Return Of The Jedi left us, is on the verge of being unleashed. And with the promising reviews that are pouring in, 25th December seems slated to be known as Star Wars Day.
To understand the hysteria behind this movie, we must go back to the original Star Wars phenomenon. Like The Birth of a Nation and Citizen Kane, Star Wars was a technical watershed that influenced many of the movies that came after. It began a new generation of special effects and high-energy motion pictures.
The film was one of the first films to link genres together to invent a new, high-concept genre for filmmakers to build upon. It shifted the film industry’s focus away from personal filmmaking of the 1970s and towards fast-paced, big-budget blockbusters for younger audiences.
Finally, the special effects in this film were something the screen had never seen before. The spaceship battles were imaginatively extrapolated from World War II, and the film team travelled to remote parts of the world to find convincing settings for alien planets.
But ultimately it is the age-old tale of a boy becoming a man, aided by the charming Han Solo and Princess Leia, the story of the quest of a hero who is good at heart into understanding who is right, the world or him, that makes Star Wars the legend that it is.
The Force Awakens certainly has a lot to live up to. And it seems that it has all the elements right – Princess Leia is now a General and still the warrior queen of the resistance – a tougher and more grandmotherly figure. The dark force is resurgent in the form of the First Order, intent on re-establishing a more candidly fascist control, with quasi-Nuremberg rallies. Luke, played by a now grizzled Mark Hamill, is still a driving figure. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren is fastidiously cruel and droll.
But what The Force Awakens really must do is bring us to the verge of not knowing whether to laugh, cry, or clap, a sensation we associate with being sixteen and seeing our first blockbuster science-fiction movie. And it seems as though it shall succeed, that indeed, the force is strong with this one.