One thing I found really intriguing about the new Star Wars flick—other than the aggressively visceral and ‘tactile’ nature of it (which took me a minute to adjust to; “You mean ta tell me that’s ‘real’ dirt they’re walking on?!”)—was how it was a winking ‘meta’ remix of the original trilogy; much in the same way “Super 8” (another Abram’s flick) was a ‘meta’ remix of early Spielberg. In “Super 8” the wink-and-a’nod came via the group of ‘inspired’ young filmmakers and their monster movie within a monster movie; in “The Force Awakens” it’s Kylo Ren being a kind of whiny surrogate for the ‘whiny’ fanboys who have—over the last decade and some change—incessantly (and maybe rightfully) bitched about the Lucas-helmed prequels1 not being ‘like’ the films that comprised the original trilogy. Kylo wants to be Vader2 just as much as the fanboys wanted the prequels to have invoked the spirit of episodes IV-VI.
In a way this ‘Kylo’s Planet Rock to Vader’s Trans-Europe Express‘ dynamic ‘excuses’ the film’s liberal sampling, as a Vader analog would NO DOUBT have similar intentions, wear similar garb, don a similar helmet and have a similar super weapon at his disposal, as well as inspire a similar response to his actions. What’s really hip about this is how—for new fans—it acts as a kind of ‘if you like this you’re gonna LOVE the first three’ greatest-hits introduction to the franchise. Gets ’em excited and eagerly anticipating—not just the next ‘new’ one (which will likely present a ‘more unique’ story), but the original trilogy as well3.
1. I never quite understood WHY Vader went from ‘woo-pee’ to worst-dude-in-the-galaxy status. I understood HOW; his hyper-practical ‘reasoning’ behind it, but I never ‘felt’ it. Maybe I missed something. Like in-between all that galactic trade embargo stuff that I felt like I needed a ‘galactic’ MSNBC to sort out. Seriously though, I’m reaching out for help here. Like I said, I probably missed something. Only parts I really paid any attention to were the scenes with the shiny ships. This one in particular. Oh, and and in defense of Mr. Lucas…
I get the drive to meticulously world-build. It’s the closest thing us creative types get to ruling an empire. We don’t tend to have that ‘thing’ that convinces young men to die well before their prime or lead grand building projects, but we can command and lead ‘armies’ of fellow creatives to help us bring hyper-detailed ethereal worlds to life which may provide momentary solace to those suffering under oppressive flesh-an’-blood empires…and that’s important…right?↩
2. Kylo and Vader share the same complex relationship with their closest relative contrasts. Both realationships are fractured and marked (if not ‘defined‘) by extreme differences of opinion about what path (light or dark) best ensures the continued existence of the lives of themselves and those closest to them. When you think about it: The fact that the effects of this intertwined family drama have universal consequences is rather fucked up.↩
3. Anticipating something old that you’ve never experienced before with the same passion you normally devote to ‘distant’ new releases is pretty damn cool, like in a time-subverting kinda way.↩