Saturday, April 18, 2015

"We're Home"

The difference between a good trailer and a great/legendary trailer lies not so much in what the trailer contains but rather in what it does. The new Star Wars trailer does more than simply remind fans of why they might want to see the movie, it creates demand for something they didn’t realize they wanted. The opening shot of the trailer, a land speeder glinting in the desert sun as it passes first a downed X-wing and then the derelict hulk of a star destroyer creates instantly a sense of place and time, it generates a question to be answered. How did the enormous spaceship come to this place. Who is passing in front of it? Where and when is this exactly?



The place is familiar but different (Jakku instead of Tatooine). The time is clearly after, a period moved on from what we know. There are echoes of what came before - the mysterious and already much-disected pronouncement from Luke Skywalker, the storm-troopers, and of course the double cameo in the final shot - but there are also disturbing changes.

This clip works because it explictly acknowledges what the prequels implicitly denied - that time passes. Entire generations of children have come of age and grown old under the shadow of this one story. The ruins of the original trilogy tower forlorn in the background of the new world. Star Wars, with all of its Cambellian trappings make a whole hell of a lot more sense than the world does right now. Instead of one iconic, fair-haired hero, we have a plucky staff-weilding young woman, an (ex?) storm-trooper of color, and a very gleeful X—wing pilot, almost as though the simple narrative of the original trilogy has fragmented and moved past simple descriptions even as it tightens focus away from galactic machinations back to the heart of the original story. The destiny of families.

The trailer embraces nostalgia. The music swells, the action on the screen builds towards a simple and powerful climax - the reappearance of Hans Solo and Chewbacca. The statement here is not so much fan-service as it is a communion with a segment of the population.

An overture.

J.J. Abrams seems to understand that images, simple, well-framed images, have the power to drive the imagination. To encourage us dream again.

This trailer forms a compact with fans: trust us and we will do the impossible - return home.

That’s a lot to ask of fans who sat through Jar Jar Binks, gobs of superfluous CGI, and bad dialogue, but the gesture is appreciated.

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