Right now, Star Wars Celebration Europe 2013 is underway, and that means there will be news about all the different corners of the “Star Wars” universe and what fans should be looking forward to in the near and far future. Of course, the majority of the attention of the fan community right now is focused on “Star Wars Episode VII,” and all you have to do is look at the way any rumor of any substance ripples through the entire Internet to know how keen the anticipation is out there for this film, whatever it’s going to be.
I think JJ Abrams has a terrifying job. Seriously. I think anyone after him who directs anything related to “Star Wars” has permission to play, and we’re going to see just how flexible a film universe it is in the next decade or so. But for JJ Abrams, this is the moment. For “Star Wars,” this is the moment. The prequels left a divided fandom. The television projects have divided fandom. There are fans so hurt that they don’t consider themselves fans anymore. The only thing that is going to truly bring fandom back together in a meaningful way is if this next film gets it right. Abrams has to convince us all that there’s something left to tell, some reason for these movies to go on. It’s not just “And then some more stuff happened!” This is “Star Wars.” It’s got to be a story that feels like it takes everything that’s come before and spins it into something new and engrossing and fun and exciting and different.
There are things that Abrams and Michael Arndt and Simon Kinberg and Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan all bring to the table, and I think it’s that combination of voices that is going to make this a very different “Star Wars.” Lucas is there. Lucas is involved. He gets to be a sounding board as much as he wants to be a sounding board. But it sounds like much of what he contributes is his feelings about what constitutes “Star Wars.” I know when I worked with Clive Barker adapting something of his, we had discussions about his work and about what did or didn’t feel like something that could have come from his mind, from his particular point of view.
Lucas is, at the end of the day, the one person who has true veto power over what is or is not “Star Wars.” Doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion, just like every other kid who every grew up with the films and the toys and the books and the games and everything else. But I recognize that no matter how strongly held my beliefs are, there are certain things that define “Star Wars,” and the opinion of George Lucas sits right there at the top of this very short list.
Another item on that list? The music of John Williams. And the biggest news today so far is that John Williams is officially onboard for these movies, and seems pretty excited about it. Check out this video of Williams that just went live during the Celebration panel:
If you check out the live-blog over at Star Wars Blog, you’ll see that much of the panel seemed to be about Kennedy herself and her background and how she ended up sitting in the chair, steering the future of this cultural titan. It seems like a pretty logical fit to me. She’s been there for some of the great lightning strike Eureka moments of the last 30 years of pop culture. Seems like exactly the person you trust to keep this thing in motion now.
I love that much of what I’ve been hearing seems to match what Kennedy is saying. I’ve heard that Lawrence Kasdan is considered by everyone else in the process a pretty great resource, and a really lovely collaborator. And I’ve heard that ILM is building a lot of actual models for this film, that they plan to shoot the models and digitally composite on a much larger scale than the last trilogy. It’s an aesthetic choice, evidently, and I find it very exciting to imagine big ILM model units working to build out the world.
I feel like there’s a lot of begrudging coverage of the “Star Wars” films already, like people are irritated that they have to write about “Star Wars,” which they don’t like at all anymore. Not everyone, certainly, but enough that I kind of dread the way things are going to unfold during production. I think sometimes people are extra-eager to hear about what goes wrong and not terribly inclined to believe if something actually goes right, and it might not even be conscious on their part. But with “Star Wars,” I see some eye-rolling and some hand-wringing, some groaning about it.
I’m excited. I really am. My kids are excited. We’re all looking forward to a new “Star Wars” film together. When it comes out, Toshi’s going to be ten and Allen’s going to be seven. That’s totally badass. That’s the perfect age for the kick-off of a new trilogy. And I’m willing to put my faith in not just one person but this whole brain trust that Lucas and Kennedy have assembled. This looks to me like the right way to do things this time around, and I certainly have my fingers crossed that the Force is with them in a big big way.
“Star Wars: Episode VII” is set for release in the Summer of 2015.