One of the biggest worries about J.J. Abrams directing Star Wars is that he'll bring his penchant for mysteries for the sake of mysteries to the relatively straightforward universe George Lucas built. But this clip from his 2007 Ted talk, posted on Reddit yesterday, shows Abrams arguing that Star Wars was always about the "mystery box" because it maintains suspense by withholding information from the audience.
Princess Leia is not a Mystery Box.
A Mystery Box would lead to one thing. Seeing a new thing in a story is not a mystery, it's a thread, which weaves into a tapestry. Or to use another metaphore, a journey made of steps and turns, but in a path, not a square with only right-turns circling around one big THING in the center. The Mystery Box idea is a bad one- because when you focus on the thing in the box as the center of your story, that thing just gets bigger and bigger. There had better be something really cool in that freaking box you've been talking about all season.
I hope the rest of his TED talk was better, because like his movies, this didn't seem to be about anything really- and he relied on the work of others rather than entertaining with his own ideas.
But thankfully, for the Star Wars movie, someone else is typing away on the Powerbook. I think the movie has a chance.