Happy Star Wars Day!
May the 4th be with you! Okay so today is May 7th, but Friday is the perfect day to embark on your Star Wars marathon anyway… not Tuesday (although I did hehe). Bringing to your attention my favourite aspects and awestruck moments from the most recent Star Wars trilogy, this piece is here to help you dive into a weekend of Star Wars and all its glory to celebrate Star Wars Day 2021! Oh, and may the Force be with you!
The Force Awakens:
The first film of this trilogy is definitely all encompassing, as it brings together few and far aspects of filmmaking such as cinematography, comedic relief, and a variety of set and or settings. I find this incredibly important, especially for a first film, as it immediately draws viewers in for a variety of reasons meaning everyone can most likely pick at something they liked, or something that surprised or shocked them! For me, the cinematography was the first marker that made me like this film that much more, and amazingly enough it is at the beginning. In The Force Awakens we are “shown” the vastness of space against the creatures and artifacts it holds, through the use of cinematography. When we first encounter Rey in Jakku she is leaving a crash site of a downed spacecraft then zipping across the desert on her speeder, but what we’re really becoming privy too is just how small she is in comparison to the space craft or amongst the desert landscape. Sliding down a sand dune from an ancient ruin or zipping back home in the evening display her movements against her setting and still, the wavelength she exists and moves on is nothing in comparison – and that is the beauty tools like cinematography bring to light when we try to think about how BIG the universe is. Another example of this is Han Solo and Kylo Ren standing on a bridge inside the Finalizer. When the camera pans and zooms out both whilst they’re on the bridge and when Han Solo falls, signifies how small human beings are even within the machinery of space (and, it just looks sick!). Second we have comedic relief (apparent throughout the trilogy but definitely more so in The Force Awakens). Whether its Rey or Finn telling themselves “I can do this, I can do this” over and over when stealing a space craft whilst under attack, or BB-8’s thumbs-up which brings a funny and humane aspect to the world of robotics, these moments of comedic relief are perfectly timed (which isn't always the case so it is much appreciated), and bring just enough humanity to a world of sci-fi, grandeur, and non-stop action without taking away from the story or setting, at all! When done right comedic relief in otherwise serious movies is a golden ticket, and this Star Wars trilogy has one for all three! Third, we have the variety of landscapes that showcase to us how diverse the universe and its planets are, whilst simultaneously showcasing to us really how diverse our own planet Earth is! We go from deserts, to lush green forests, then to ice and snow covered worlds throughout who even knows how many galaxies, yet all these landscapes exist right here on the blue marble we call home, as well. The different settings not only bring a visual stimulus to the audience (much like Interstellar), but also a solidification for the differences the vastness of the universe inhibits – something we already see with species in Star Wars.
The Last Jedi:
This second film carries over aspects already seen in The Force Awakens like comedic relief and cinematography, but what’s new in The Last Jedi is… the Force. Although far less than in the first film, the true moment of noteworthy comedic relief in this second installment of the trilogy is from Rey, when she starts her Jedi training with Master Skywalker. When Luke asks her to “reach out” and she literally reaches out with her arm and says she feels the Force, guaranteed that’s the best if not the only laugh you’ll get from The Last Jedi. So clearly this film has a more serious tone than its predecessor, but that makes sense when this film is a deep dive into an understanding of the Force and Jedi training, which brings us right to my second point, learning about the Force! During Rey’s training on the island she tells us in detail what she sees and feels while trying to connect with the Force. This paints a clear picture for the audience about what the force is or is meant to be, and its all terribly interesting. Again what is mentioned in Star Wars can allude to life already on planet Earth, so I find it incredibly interesting to be brought back “down to earth”, during a space movie! I guess contradictory scenarios help people realize what is already right in front of them… literally. Curious. Second, we are greeted once more with phenomenal cinematography! This time taking place toward the end of the film on the planet Crait, the vibrant red earth that is coughed up from beneath the salt covering Crait during the final battle is brilliant. Not only do we get extremely contrasting colours, but the symmetry of red lines coming from the Resistance ski-speeders in conjunction with a panned-out camera view leads to a revelation of remarkable lines, depth, contrast and once again, size. The perfection of the earth on this planet being a bright red at a time where war is ensuing just above on the salt alludes marvellously to the chaos and rage both outside and within, when we get to Kylo Ren. Now the final layer of icing on our cinematography cake for The Last Jedi is of course, the jump to hyperspace right through Supreme Leader Snoke’s ship, the Supremacy. First, we already get a sense of scale when we see this ship appear out of a light speed jump above all the other ships, but to see its wing split right through with a brilliant burst of light blue with absolutely no noise in the background besides a deafening “zip” amid the blackness of the universe is… stunning! Once more cinematography not only gives us a sense of scale, but also emotion.
The Rise of Skywalker:
The final film in this trilogy is probably the most different, as The Rise of Skywalker is more… “serious”. Not serious like The Last Jedi where we with Rey are learning about the Force or just learning more in general, but serious regarding the problems posed within the story and how they are going to be dealt with. We literally start with an opening scene of terror, violence and rage from Kylo Ren, showcasing not only the plot for this film, but also its increased use of special effects and how cinematography brings fighting scenes to a whole.. other.. level. We are only greeted with our long-time friend comedic relief once (like The Last Jedi), where Poe turns on his flashlight, instead of a lightsaber. The Rise of Skywalker also has a much heavier focus on the relationships between characters, and how important each person is to one another and their roles in this fight against the First Order or Palpatine. Everything becomes more personal in this last film, and we see power and love in very new lights – yet it doesn’t take away from the sci-fi. Last but not least, The Rise of Skywalker exudes special effects on blast… like rocket launcher blast. Is it because this is where the final battle goes down and they just want everything to be more epic? Is it because it’s 2019 and computer-generated special effects have increased just enough to need to showcase to the world what studios are now capable of doing? Is it to counteract the much more human and personal aspects that are attached to this final film? Questions I have but will most likely never get an answer to, I found the special effects much more noticeable in the last film of this trilogy which says to me, that the film probably lacks in some shape or form in comparison to the first two, and this visual boost is like adding icing on a cake. Regardless, it’s still a stellar film with a good ending.
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