If you were given only one word to describe your feeling after watching the original Star Wars trilogy, “Delightful” is a good one. That’s also the word J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan focused on when writing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which seems like a good sign.
“I tried to focus on things that I find inspiring about cinema,” Abrams said in a fascinating new interview with Wired. “I asked questions like ‘How do we make this movie delightful?’ That was really the only requirement Larry and I imposed on each other: The movie needed to be delightful. It was not about explaining everything away, not about introducing a certain number of toys for a corporation, not about trying to appease anyone. This has only ever been about what gets us excited.”
And, so far, it’s gotten other people excited too. We’re now just six weeks away from returning to a galaxy far, far away and Abrams is saying all the right things. Speaking with Wired, he admits that when he started Super 8 and Star Trek Into Darkness, “I hadn’t really solved some fundamental story problems.” He didn’t feel that way going into The Force Awakens.
“We wanted to tell a story that had its own self-contained beginning, middle, and end but at the same time, like A New Hope, implied a history that preceded it and also hinted at a future to follow,” the director said “When Star Wars first came out, it was a film that both allowed the audience to understand a new story but also to infer all sorts of exciting things that might be.”
So, for example, he says the fact that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father is obviously a possibility in A New Hope, but it only works because of how Vader is handled in that first movie. He admits that while lots of this movie is set up, it hopefully won’t feel like that.
“Working on this new movie has been as much about trying to set up elements of what is beyond what you’re seeing as it has been about telling a story that will be satisfying in and of itself,” Abrams said. “But it can’t feel like a cop-out—like we’re just setting things up and not resolving them.”
To help with that, Abrams said that Rian Johnson, the writer and director of Star Wars Episode VIII, was given full access to their work and even “asked for a couple of things here and there that he needs for his story.”
“What Larry and I did was set up certain key relationships, certain key questions, conflicts. And we knew where certain things were going,” he said. “We had meetings with Rian and Ram Bergman, the producer of VIII. They were watching dailies when we were shooting our movie. We wanted them to be part of the process, to make the transition to their film as seamless as possible. I showed Rian an early cut of the movie, because I knew he was doing his rewrite and prepping. And as executive producer of VIII, I need that movie to be really good.”
For fans, we kind of really need The Force Awakens to be good. Abrams knows that. He understand the pressures and have been thinking about it every single day.
“Star Wars is so boundless in terms of the world, the characters, the conflicts,” Abrams said. “When we began working on this film, Larry and I started by making a list of things that we knew held interest for us, the things we wanted to see, the things we felt were important. There’s a very real issue with doing this movie: Every detail, whether it was the design of a costume or the music or a set-dressing choice, must be embraced as coming from Star Wars. You’re inheriting Star Wars! That’s not something you can do lightly. You have to really understand the design choices, because everything is important. At the same time, it’s just Star Wars, meaning: It doesn’t make it automatically interesting just because it’s in that galaxy.”
There’s much, much more in the great Wired article too. Abrams talks about how for this film, they weren’t just casting one movie, they were casting at least three. He talks about how some of the design choices (such as C-3P0’s red arm) were made just so you have a sense of time passed. He describes scenes between Han and Rey as “sweet” and scenes with Han and Finn as tense and funny. The whole thing is filled with nice little nuggets, all of which lead up to a scary realization. There’s a very good chance they got this right. We’ll find out soon.
Head to the below link to read the rest of the interview.
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