No doubt, there are countless masses who have either written or are actively writing something similar to what follows. But that doesn’t matter much to me. Instead, I’m just wanting to air my own point of view on the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer aired last night during a sporting contest of some sort. But that doesn’t much matter, either, nor does it matter that the mad rush for tickets crashed servers and clogged Internet pipelines for hours. Rather, what matters to me isn’t so much the surface plot sketched out in the new trailer but what new owner Disney and its director appear to be saying through the selected scenes and dialogue revealed in the roughly three hundred seconds the trailer spans.
To say that I’ve been a Star Wars fan my whole life wouldn’t be entirely accurate. My first memories of what would become Episode IV: A New Hope include the visage of Darth Vader turning to look at me through the tiny television screen in my parents’ living room and my subsequent sprint through the house, screaming; later, I would cry and cling to my older sister, begging her not to go into the movie theater because of the “bad, bad man.” In essence, what Lucas had sought to accomplish with Star Wars worked on me from the get-go: He had tapped into my collective unconscious and unleashed a barrage of archetypes that would shape my life and the person I would become.
Now, a new director is at the helm of the film franchise. Monetarily, his credentials at steering at least one other sci-fi film franchise to glory and a new generation of fans is unquestionably successful. But I feel Abrams knows he is treading on sacred ground with Star Wars and is treating it with greater care. So he’s going with what worked for him on the previous franchise by bringing back original cast members to reprise their roles that solidified their respective places in cinematic history, easing the transition from what we’ve known for generations to what he wants us to know for generations to come.
Seeing the original hunting group of companions reunited on film (and in the poster revealed the day before the film) has caught the attention of anyone who knows even a little bit about Star Wars, but, for me, it was, again, the presence of the visage of Darth Vader in the teasers and full trailer that held my sway, and it wasn’t until what I presume to be the voice of Kylo Ren spoke, saying—and I might be paraphrasing here; I've only watched the trailer once—”I will continue what you had begun.”
J.J. Abrams has the weight of countless worlds on his shoulders, and for that, I do not envy him. Like Ren, he is attempting to continue the work began by his forebears. And, as Obi-Wan waxed in Episode VI, what we accept as true will depend on our own point of view. Personally, I’ve not been terribly impressed for what I’ve witnessed of Abrams’s style of storytelling, but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying (for the most part) what he has offered. The same could very well be the case for Episode VII: Abrams could contort what he believes (or has been instructed to believe) to be true and skew the entire (Star Wars) universe to that perspective—just like Kylo Ren appears to be doing with the Force and the Empire. But, like Ren’s rumored (spoiler alert!) grandfather before him, it may take a few films to see (ahem) the big picture and find redemption through telling new and interesting stories. And that (the telling of stories) is what really matters.