Star Wars The Force Awakens

Star Wars mania is upon us

Star Wars castStar Wars is more than a movie. It’s a cultural phenomenon. Perhaps I am giving away my age by admitting the original Star Wars trilogy had an instrumental and lasting cultural influence on me.

I am counting down the days to Episode VII, The Force Awakens, opening this December. This year’s Comic-Con in San Diego offered me, and fellow Star Wars tragics, a unique treat.

Director J.J. Abrams had a very special gift for the San Diego Comic-Con crowd on Friday. He arrived with a behind-the-scenes reel which brought down the house showing off various sets, some of the visual effects and fan favourite stars such as Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.

J.J. Abrams emphasised the effort they made not to get lost in CGI and their focus on the use of practical effects, including robotics, to inject a feeling of realism that characterised the original trilogy.

The Star Wars panel session was the undisputed star attraction of this year’s Comic-Con, lifting fans to another galaxy far, far away. The panel introduced us to the new cast members and brought together our old favourites Carrie Fisher (enters at 40:00), Mark Hamill (enters at 42:35) and Harrison Ford.

‘Is Harrison OK?’ asked moderator Chris Hardwick.

‘Well, why don’t we see for ourselves?’ was the response, as a youthful and happy Harrison Ford appeared on stage (at 47:55) for the delight of young and old, and to a spontaneous standing ovation as a stadium-sized venue broke the convention’s strict no-standing rule.

This was Harrison Ford’s first public appearance since his plane crash and to everyone’s relief his response was a simple, but energetic ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’

Earlier during the session an audience member, Lynette Grant, put the question to J.J. Abrams that came from the heart and soul of every Star Wars fan, asking how he approached carrying the ‘heavy burden’ of becoming the custodian of such a ‘precious legacy’. ‘No pressure,’ quipped Chris Hardwick.

Because we love it and because we care about it so much, our job is not to be blinded by that. Meaning you can just be a fan and then say well you are gonna to make a movie because you are a fan. It’s not enough, you have really got to say, what’s the story? I will tell you from personal experience when you are directing a scene on the Millennium Falcon it doesn’t make the scene good. Now it’s bitching that it’s on the Millennium Falcon, like you want a scene on the Millennium Falcon. If I can make a suggestion, direct scenes on the Millennium Falcon, because it’s hugely helpful. But, it doesn’t make the scene automatically good. So you have to ask, what, literary story telling 101, what do the characters want, who are they, what makes this interesting, what’s unexpected, how do you make this, it has to be fun, it has to be scary, you know, the power of what has come before is so infectious and so deep that you have to harness it but you can’t be blinded by it and it’s a constant thing …
J.J. Abrams, starting at 15:30

Following the masterful handling of the Star Trek movie franchise by J.J. Abrams, I have a lot of faith in his ability to revive Star Wars and do justice to much-loved old characters, while creating a new story arc and characters to cherish.

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