Monday, July 20, 2015

Episode VII: The 2nd Teaser, Celebration Anaheim, and Vanity Fair

In April, Star Wars Celebration Anaheim took place. There we got our first real look at Episode VII, starting with the second teaser trailer.

It's funny. Much like the last teaser, this one doesn't really tell us all that much about what's happening. We just get little glimpses. It is a teaser after all, not a trailer. But those glimpses are so much more powerful and rich with detail than they were in that first teaser. But the biggest thing about the teaser isn't so much any specific detail, but the way that all the aspects of it build into one idea. I'll explain in a bit.

That voiceover. Hearing Luke's lines from Return of the Jedi again gave me all kinds of chills. Normally reused lines aren't my favorite thing in trailers, but this made it really work. Part of it has to do with the fact that it ties The Force Awakens back to the Original Trilogy in a way nothing else has yet, but there's also the fact that it seems to imply a lot about the movie's story. Luke is talking primarily about three things: the Force, family, and the idea of passing on that power to someone new.  The lines sync up with the footage and highlight specific ideas:
"My father has it" - We see Vader's burnt helmet, probably taken from the Endor funeral pyre. Who took it, and what significance does it have?
"I have it" - A cloaked figure with a robotic hand reaches out for R2-D2; almost certainly Luke.
"My sister has it" - A short alien figure passes the famous saber of Anakin Skywalker to a woman who we assume is Leia.
"You have that power, too" - This is the big one. In ROTJ he was, of course, talking to Leia, but the way the line is removed from the rest of the exchange, it's different. The screen is black, as if Luke isn't speaking in regard to anyone specific. It feels like he's speaking to us. That whole idea—"you have that power, too"—is something that was hugely important to the Original Trilogy, with Luke essentially standing in for us, the audience. We were Luke in the OT; Ben Kenobi and Yoda weren't training Luke; they were training all of us. Symbolically, the trailer seems to hand over the reins of Star Wars to the people again. It's no longer going to be us staring into windows watching monks and politicians go about their idiotic business as in the prequels; this is a story made for us, here and now. I may be reading too deep into that, but it feels right.

There's a big theme in the teaser: relationships. Not only is Luke talking about his family, but all through the trailer we see people reaching out to one another in various ways:

And, of course, it ends with the epic nostalgia moment that is seeing Han Solo and Chewbacca reunited on the Millennium Falcon.

"We're home" is that last beat that sent us all into tears of joy. And it's not just a nostalgia trip, either. Han and Chewie's friendship was never the deepest, exactly, but it always felt real. Maybe like two best friends, maybe like a boy and his dog, but it was always one of the more authentic-feeling things in Star Wars. I've written on this blog before about how Star Wars needs to be a personal story in order for it to be great, and this feels like it's going to do that exactly.

Also there's a bunch of rad stormtroopers and spaceships.

One of them is chrome and has a cape. A CAPE. And her name is Captain Phasma. It's like photon mixed with plasma. It's a cool name.

A quick, light highlight reel from the opening panel where the teaser was first shown:

Shortly after Celebration Anaheim, Vanity Fair revealed their epic photos taken on the sets of The Force Awakens.

Pretty cool stuff.

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