Note: Might there be Star Wars spoilers ahead? Yes. Yes there are. If you haven’t seen it, or you don’t care, move along.
I saw Force Awakens on opening day. I didn’t plan on it. I planned on seeing it in two weeks on a Tuesday morning when no one was there, but some friends screwed up ordering tickets, so there I was, 10:55pm, at a movie theater two hours from my house, with meetings in the morning the following morning. I got home at three, slept until seven, and off I went. Because Star Wars. I’m actually now a massive fanboy. I didn’t see that coming.
Back on point. The one thing that caught me about the movie was the beginning was very jarring. We had some characters darting around with a sense of purpose, but I had no idea that purpose. There was the most daring pilot of the rebels, or New Republic, and I’d never seen him before. There was some scary guy with a lightsaber. There was a girl on
Tatooine Jakku doing cool things in a downed star destroyer from some battle we have no clue about. There was a Storm Trooper who was black, when they’re all supposed to be clones of Jango Fett (so more Hispanic), and the Storm Trooper wasn’t sure if what he was doing was right. I mean, what Storm Trooper takes off his helmet and freaks out when one of his brothers dies? That and there was a woman Storm Trooper. I mean, maybe the galaxy reached the point our society did today and surgery is cool. Secretly Jango Fett wanted to be a woman, and that just came out more with that person, who am I to judge?
By the end of the movie, we’re still wondering who Rey is, where Sloke came from, if Ren is a Sith or just a dark Force user (there is a marked difference, even though it’s likely just semantics to give reason for there to be more than two dark Force users at a time, even though it really is eschewing everything Darth Bane rallied for because it led to the near utter destruction of the Sith thousands of years previous to the movies), why did Luke run away, where did Luke go, etc.
I wasn’t used to this. I wasn’t used to there being a dozen questions asked and two answered. I know the books set up some of the ground work for the movie, but remove the books. Take the movies as themselves.
Harry Potter wrapped up the current questions and conflicts with a nice ribbon. By the end, the only real outstanding question of any movie or book was, “How will Voldemort strike next year?”
Game of Thrones wraps up the current story line, while leading into the next with the final few chapters. They even make it very clear which stories are going to linger and which are urgent, and you can expect anything urgent to be finished at the end. It also started nice and slow, with calm introductions into the world of Westeros.
I wondered how Force Awakens got away with it. Who thought that was a good idea? I enjoyed it, but most audiences would stare in bewilderment. All these thoughts were running through my head when I popped in A New Hope.
I read the introduction, still wondering about those dangling plot inquiries. You know the opening scroll doesn’t really tell you a lot?
Suddenly there are two sides shooting each other, one obviously better equipped (though for anyone claiming the new Storm Troopers are worse than the old, I beg you to revisit them). There’s some creepy guy in a black outfit that’s just walking through the chaos. There are two droids who are at odds with the chaos going around them. There’s a cute woman who is recording something, suddenly the droids are jettisoned to
Jakku Tatooine, and I’m staring at it in awe, with every movie reinforcing this feeling.
Why did I notice it for the first time now, when looking at it as if I had seen it with no notice? My entire life I knew Luke, Han, Leia, C3-P0, R2-D2. I knew why Darth Vader was on that ship, what a Death Star was, and that Obi Wan was an old hermit. I knew about Tusken Raiders. I talked to my mom about it after my epiphany, and she reinforced it. The first day they sat in those theaters to see the over hyped space fantasy that was Star Wars, they had no flipping clue what was going on. But it was awesome.
Force Awakens perfectly captures the ridiculous over the top sci fi action, with disregard to all things science about the fiction, as well as giving us a hundred questions, answering twenty every movie, and giving us another ten to worry about. While bucking the new trend, it was totally giving itself over to what it once was, and I admired the heck out of it when I realized what they were doing. It was a beautiful cacophony, one I respect Disney and Abrams for committing to, instead of what the prequels were.
It’s a fascinating tool that most stories don’t use. Leave mystery. Ask questions that aren’t answered. Not to the point of annoyance, and don’t gloss over a scene that’s about to happen just to save it’s mystique. That’s stupid. It makes no sense to give us a PoV character, and then deprive us of information they would know, then jump out and say, “Surprise, this is what happened back then that you should obviously already know!”
Still, give us questions, and don’t always give us obvious answers, or answers at all. At least not until the third book.