Monday, November 9, 2015

OpEd: The Force Awakens Clips

So, we’ve now seen nearly four minutes of footage from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and we're starting to form an notion about what the storyline is going to be.  Yes, we'll be getting a few more small tidbits in the form of TV spots, but we're done with full trailers.  Four minutes may not seem like a lot of footage, but when Mike V. re-arranges all that footage into some semblance chronological order, it's actually fairly enlightening.
If Mike's cut is accurate, there are some inferences to be made.  For starters, it looks like there’s some kind of First Order attack at Maz Kanata’s castle - the structure with all the flags outside that our heroes enter.  From there, they apparently make a narrow escape reminiscent of the Battle of Hoth.  The scene where Maz hands over Luke’s lightsaber to Leia isn’t portrayed with any sort of urgency, which, in turn, would seem to indicate that the heroes land somewhere safe at the end of their flight.

The order of the footage also seem to confirm forum rumblings that BB-8 belongs to Poe Dameron, much like R2-D2 "belonged" to Obiwan Kenobi.  There's no apparent explanation in the footage as to why the First Order is chasing our heroes to that village, but maybe BB-8, like R2, is carry some kind of secret.  Or maybe the First Order is tracking Finn down for desertion.

The shot of Kylo Ren with the rest of the Knights of Ren feels strangely out of place.  It's not clear what they’re doing all assembled in the rain together, but it's got the feel of the scene where the bounty hunters assemble in Empire Strikes Back.  That might indicate that Abrams is holding back a second, intertwining storyline that fans haven't gotten wind of yet.  Or, it may indicate that the Kylo Ren scene will be a taste of the second movie in the trilogy that Abrams tacks onto the end of the movie as a teaser.

Of course, my favorite theory is that Kylo Ren is Luke, undercover, like Leia was at Jabba's Palace in Return of the Jedi.  I prop up that theory by pointing to the dialog spoken in the international trailer in which Kylo Ren speaks of "fulfilling our destiny" while holding Vader's mask.  That could be a reference to the prophecy that Anakin would be the one to bring balance to the Force.

Finally, the video leads me to believe that the shot of Luke Skywalker in the desert with R2-D2 isn't part of the film's narrative, but rather a scene establishing the movie's MacGuffin that parallels the scene at the opening of A New Hope in which Leia programs R2-D2 with a message just in time to escape Vader's boarding party.  We already know that this will be the first Star Wars film to feature a flashback, and this shot of Luke and R2 seems the most likely suspect.

So, why all the parallels?  I'm guessing the while Abrams was smart enough to make the movies something fresh and new with contemporary sensibilities, he'll be closely mirroring the plots of the original trilogy.  First off, because George Lucas has had enormous success in closely adhering to Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey.  Far more importantly, though, because Disney is counting on nostalgia being a BIG draw at the box office.

In any case, I'll be bookmarking the video to check its accuracy after I finally get to see the real thing in theaters.  In the mean time, I'd love to hear any opinions you've got on the video. 

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