Countdown to the Force Awakens!
Star Wars…the space saga that inspired a movement is about to ignite a new era of storytelling in filmmaking as movie audiences return to a familiar territory, with new excitement!
Every generation has had its own imaginative explosion! Whether it was the life journey of a boy wizard, a rebellious archer moved to incite change, or a lost girl from Kansas who just wants to get home after following a twister into a magical land. All these flights of fancy share a common vision — a heroic journey — a pattern that can be traced to a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
Back in 1977, when George Lucas introduced moviegoers to the wide-eyed adventure-seeking Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) he couldn’t have imaged that his small-budget, effects heavy space opera would become the near religious experience that four decades later is still drawing so much attention. Star Wars as it was simply entitled then broke all expectations at the box office, and its subsequent sequels followed suit.
Lucas had always said that the story which prominently featured our hero Luke Skywalker and a band of rebels that battled to free the galaxy from the tyranny of an evil Empire, were only the beginning of the tale. The original trilogy’s villain Darth Vader (David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones) became one of the modern film era’s most iconic antagonists though the character would be redeemed by the series climax.
Although a “Special Edition” revisiting of the Original Trilogy wooed fans back into the theaters — Lucas’ enhanced versions of the original films included additional scenes and advanced CGI technology to extrapolate more of the original narrative — audiences would have to wait until 1999 for the promised “prequel” series that further explored the downfall of Anakin Skywalker (a young Jake Lloyd played Anakin as a boy).
Actor Hayden Christensen played the fallen Jedi Knight that would become the Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader and the role of the mother of the Skywalker twins went to Academy Award Winner Natalie Portman who played Padmé Amidala — who embodied the rebellious spirit that is evident most in her daughter Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). At the conclusion of Lucas prequels, it was clear that Star Wars was here to stay.
Handing the keys to his company to long-time producing partner Kathleen Kennedy may’ve proven the franchise’s greatest move since securing the plans to the Death Star. After selling his company to Disney for a near mint, Lucas bestowed upon Kennedy the outline for another series of films which pose the question: Who is Luke Skywalker? And with that the next trilogy was born.
Plans for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens were confirmed on April 29, 2014 when the first cast and crew picture from the first script read through was released by the film’s new director J.J. Abrams. Though at first reluctant to take on the Star Wars franchise, Abrams was the most likely and intellectual choice to set the gears in motion, after all the filmmaker had reinvigorated another space epic Star Trek with great flare!
“I wanted to feel that thing I’d felt when I was a kid watching this movie.” — J.J. Abrams in Time Magazine
Poised now for its premiere, the next chapter in the epic battle between good and evil and the complexities introduced regarding the balance of the Force — an energy source that binds and penetrates us all, The Force Awakens is prepared to break all box office records and anticipation for a Star Wars renaissance is at a fever pitch! Along with the next trilogy about to begin, spin-offs are already in the works.
At the center of The Force Awakens are a trifecta of heroes. The desert scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), the fallen soldier Finn (John Bodega) and the resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). They will be joined by the original trilogy’s cast of heroes including Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his trusted co-pilot Chewbacca, and fans are happily waiting to embrace the lovable new droid BB-8 who joins R2-D2 and C-3PO.
At this writing there is very little known about the film’s plot; most of it is speculation, but everyone is keenly aware the among the original cast Mark Hamill was the most reluctant to accept that a new film was in production, and when he finally agreed to get in on it, it looks like his character Luke Skywalker is all-but missing from all the new episode’s ad campaigns.
How Luke will play into the adventure is still be seen, but fans can be assured…the Force has indeed been awaken and Star Wars is once again at the fore of our imagination. It’s a story that will resonate yet again with an entirely new generation, and it couldn’t have come at a better time, when hope is really a fleeting notion we must all accept and learn to embrace. The Force is strong.