Friday, 17 April 2015

Star Wars

Star Wars - Can't Wait

After the release of the 2nd teaser trailer for 'The Force Awakens', like the first, has resulted in near universal excitement and anticipation, I stopped to think about why I'm so excited about this film.

I honestly can't remember when I've ever been so excited, hyped and generally going loopy over a film. The teaser yesterday left me, like many others, struggling to put my feelings into words and I wonder why that is, after all it's only a film, isn't it?

The answer to that has to be no, it isn't.

Star Wars changed cinema and movies for ever. I was 9 when Star Wars came out in the UK, it had been in the news for months as it broke record after record in the U.S.A. and the anticipation, for everyone was building to fever levels, for a 9 year old the wait was almost unbearable. Finally the release date came around, as it was just after Christmas we couldn't go straight away, having to wait for a few more days before we could go and see it. Our local cinema had announced they were sold out for days, something that just never happened, so we had to go to a bigger cinema, further away that had several screens with Star Wars showing on every screen. We went early and queued for quite some time before being able to get in, but that just built our anticipation. We weren't disappointed. It changed everything.

Since then, I have seen Star Wars more times than any other film, I've owned every version released to buy in the UK apart from the Laser Disc version, and how I wished we had a laser disc player to be able to get that, and would always watch it when it was on TV (I still do). It changed the way movies were made and promoted, it influenced everything that followed for decades and impacted on our culture like nothing before or since. When the special editions were released at the Cinema for the 20th Anniversary, I couldn't wait to go and see them, and it was like greeting an old friend, but with added pzazz. This just served to build the anticipation for the upcoming first prequel. The first trailer was greeted with perhaps more anticipation than the first teaser for The Force Awakens but, though it certainly generated excitement, it left some concerns for many, it didn't look like Star Wars and somehow you felt that you weren't as excited about it as you should have been. Of course, once it came out and it became clear how disappointing it was for the true fans that served to dampen the excitement further. Still though I hoped that actually it would be amazing. I can't remember watching it at the Cinema, not like the first Trilogy where I can remember each 'experience' clearly still though do remember coming out and thinking 'Is that it, what happened'

Looking back, it is perhaps easier now to identify why the prequels were so 'bad' compared to expectations and what they might have been. 

They are 'cartoons' clearly aimed at young children, rather than a gritty adventure aimed at all. The technology probably wasn't ready to match Lucas' vision and what resulted though probably the best they could do at the time, wasn't really good enough. The space ships didn't really look real, nor did the environments or 'aliens' but the key thing was that there just wasn't any sense of real danger. The 'robot' troops weren't scary or menacing in any sense and you just never connected with any of the characters in the way you did with Star Wars.

In Star Wars, characters died and even if they'd only had minimal screen time, as for some of the X-wing pilots, you genuinely felt the impact of their deaths. The whole 'Universe' was dark, dingy and dangerous. Though Darth Maul was a great character, he had none of the real menace that Vader had and though there was a key character 'death' at the end, it didn't have anything of the impact that Obi Wan's 'death' had.

As the other prequels came out, things didn't really improve. The whole plot/story felt convoluted and didn't really fit with the vision that you had of how it should have been. The Jedi Academy felt like an ordinary school when in reality Jedi Training should be dangerous and difficult, nothing really felt like it belonged in the same Universe that Star Wars existed in but hey, at least we had some new Star Wars films hey.

This time around, the Universe feels in safe hands, it seems clear from the first two teasers, the way they have gone back to physical sets and models and even shooting on film, not digital that the film makers understand what it is that 'made' Star Wars what it was- there is clearly a sense of menace, of things spiraling out of control, of danger and fighting against the odds and of course we have our beloved characters back, at least for this first film.

The Force Awakens is never going to impact on culture and movie making in the same way that Star Wars did, but it could have a similar short term impact. It easily has the capacity to become the biggest movie in history. Everyone who saw Star Wars as a child wants to see this, children today who have grown up with Star Wars everywhere want to see it as well, but it will always be 'Mine' and not 'theirs' - I saw it first and can't wait for 'The Force Awakens' - I just know it's going to be amazing, the way I feel when watching the teasers is like nothing I've experienced since the original trilogy. The Force has awakened and will be with us always - Yeehah!!


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