Star Wars: The Nostalgia Awakens

Warning: contains minor spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

Imagine sitting in a dark theatre waiting for something you never thought would exist. Feeling the excitement in your body, like a kid the night before Christmas. Then all of a sudden the text you have been waiting for fills the screen as one of the most iconic themes plays: STAR WARS: The Force Awakens has finally started.

I first came to contact with the galaxy far far away in third grade and after watching the fist film I was stuck. What followed was three years of obsessing over everything Star Wars. The characters, actors, planets, weapons, and costumes were all analyzed and dissected to the bone. Today that obsessive streak is long gone, but the interest is still alive and strong. So when it was announced that Disney (one of my other obsessive interests) was buying Lucasfilm I was absolutely thrilled. But when it was announced that a new trilogy was being produced I, and many other fans, were scared. It is famously known and widely believed that the original trilogy (1977, 1980, 1983) is sacred as the newly produced prequel trilogy (1999, 2002, 2005) was a big disappointment. They failed to capture the atmosphere of the previous films and the blatant (over) use of CGI has been picked upon, as has the acting and direction, just to mention a few flaws. The fear of getting three more of those were palpable. It wasn’t until I saw the first trailer for The Force Awakens where the millennium falcon is chased by a tie fighter in a dogfight that I got hope. Hope that it might turn out good. And with JJ Abrams as the director, who successfully rebooted the Star Trek franchise, I could feel the hope and excitement growing inside of me.

And as I sat in that theatre a late Friday evening it was time to go back. Not only to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away- but to my childhood.

The success of this film is in the stroke of genius of going back to the retro feel of the classical trilogy. Star Wars: The Force Awakens plays on every fans nostalgia by using, for example, the visual design of the old films that everybody loves. The music is done by the legendary John Williams that scored the previous films and has created to many iconic themes to count. Not only does it bring back the old heavy players, Carrie Fisher’s Leia, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, and Mark Hammill’s Luke Skywalker (and of course Kenny Baker’s R2D2, Anthony Daniel’s C-3PO, and Peter Mayhew’s Chewbacca) it reuses the old design of the spaceships (everything from Tie Fighters to X-wings) and the filmmakers have deliberately avoided using CGI when possible to obtain the feeling of the original trilogy by using practical effects. But even though the film reuses a lot from the franchises past it also accomplishes a modern twist of the old space opera.

The new main hero, Rey, is a thrill to watch and will be a new hero for young girls to look up to. I wish I had had her as a role model in my childhood. She can take care of herself and does not need a man to save her from danger, a trope that is too widely used in Hollywood cinema today. When the character Finn repeatedly takes her hand as they run away from danger she exclaims, “Stop taking my hand!” Rey is no ordinary Hollywood woman- she can run for herself, and fight for herself, something that is clear from the start. But Rey isn’t the only feminist win in this film. The other is the distribution of male and female background and minor characters. In the original trilogy only 1:24 minutes are made up females talking (if you exclude Leia) but it is certainly more than 1:24 minutes in the Force Awakens. It seems that the gender distribution in the film is equal. Pilots, engineers, and pirates- the professions is assigned to no gender, instead they are fluid. And even better; women also can hold positions of power. This is most apparent in the character of Captain Phasma, a female military leader in the galactic empire, something that was unseen in the original trilogy. I hope we will see more of this in the two remanding films.

The character of Finn is also really interesting; he is a Strormtrooper who decides to turn on the evil galactic empire and eventually join the rebel alliance in their fight against the empire. Before Stormtroopers were known to fans as being dumb and not able to shoot their targets, but now a whole new layer of depth has been added by exploring Finn as an individual and not a disposable soldier. The new robot BB-8 is also a treat. Obviously a reboot of the previous feisty robot R2D2 this little lovable robot grasped every heart in the theatre with its human-like emotions. In the end I cared more for a metal orb than any other character.

The visual effects, both computer generated and hand made, are amazing and the dogfights (and light saber fights) are so well crafted that I’m on the edge of my seat the entire run time of the film. Same goes for the set design. It was so beautiful I almost wanted to cry.

But all of this is the rambling of a super fan. Will someone who is not a fan appreciate the film? It has all the hallmarks of a blockbuster and is bound to make new fans with its fast pace and action. If you are into science fiction it will be a great way to spend a night out. But if you look at the film objectively there is a few flaws. The story can at some times be predictable and the pace uneven, there are a few plot holes, and the major themes are basically the same as in the previous original trilogy. But this is not a film that is to be judged objectively. This is a film to be judged by nostalgia.

 

And the nostalgia is great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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