Like the galaxy, I was very eager to watch STAR WARS VII : THE AWAKENING OF THE FORCE, not to testify to the resurrection of an old history of 30 years, but because this film is directed by J. J. Abrams, that I esteem greatly since the creation of his series Alias until his rereading of Star Trek. His film Super 8 I was liked also for his ability to renew the themes and variations of hollywood blockbusters, in the pure vein of Spielberg. J. J. Abrams had all the qualities to meet the challenge of designing a sequel to the trilogy, the most famous of all time, while infusing his personality, as any good author.
Unfortunately, STAR WARS VII is point-to-point copy to the Star Wars IV : A new hope, the first film written and directed by George Lucas. As much of the story here is both thematic AND visual, the two films are indistinguishable. Despite the emergence of new heroes, they are the distant echo of the former, and are not intended to gather these old icons : Han Solo, Chewbacca, princess Leïa, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, emperor Palpatine, the Death star, etc, I was obviously aware as soon as the trailer to find some, it is the principle of a suite. But my enjoyment was tempered by the fact that it was largely an accumulation without logical story. The characters and references seem to come out of the hat of a magician. Difficult then not to see the pure “fan service.” Personally this logic m’insupporte. For me, it first writes a good story and one tent after giving some references to pander to the knowledge of the fans. In STAR WARS VII we reverse this logic : first, accumulate references for the fans, then try to find a thread for this seems to be a “logic” of the cross. But it is not.
With his knowledge of the previous episodes, the trailer and the pre-credits, the viewer will have the unpleasant sensation that he knows in advance what it will happen on the screen. Tribute ? Nostalgia ? I reached a degree of resemblance where it should, rather, speak of plagiarism, if the purchase of the license by Disney to George Lucas did not allow legally the studio to such a plundering of intellectual and artistic.
As the plot develops, we realize that the essence of the issue is not on the screen, but around the release of the film. A lot has been seen, heard and read the fateful question : “STAR WARS VII , will there be fans ?”, as if it was feeding a monster, lest it devours us. It is absolutely certain that the movie will delight those who expect the same thing in 1977 but in (slightly) different, as well as their children or grandchildren who do not want to watch the old movies. By contrast, for all other spectators, who are not hard-core fans of Star Wars, but who still appreciated the old movies, the show is much less entertaining… for lack of originality.
The marketing around STAR WARS VII has been designed for the fans, but it seems to have preexisted in the story that he was supposed to sell. Usually one creates a movie, then we try to find the best marketing strategy. Here, the priorities seem to have been reversed.
From its most distant origins, the cinema has always been under the influence of the two sides is complementary and contradictory at the same time : the creation and the marketing. You can’t make a movie without one or the other, but the danger is great when the film is unbalanced, as it leans only on one side. At the end of the 60s, a band of the valiant Jedi knights of the american independent films dared to defy the empire moribund Hollywood ; an empire that became decadent to force to use the same recipes until the exhaustion of the spectators. The public had gradually tired of the film noirs, gangster movies, pirates, romance, rose water and musicals. More a single genre seemed to suit the tastes of the public. It must be said that the dark side of cinema, marketing, loves above all the reproducibility and predictability. This is his great strength, but also what seems to ultimately destroy it from within.
But the public was no longer meeting its formulas all ready, he wanted to see the new. Came then the young filmmakers of what we would later call the “New Hollywood” (De Palma, Coppola, Spielberg … George Lucas), university-educated and inspired by the “policy of authors” promoted by a review of the French film : les Cahiers du Cinéma. These young filmmakers understood the need to entertain the public, but also to offer something new, that’s worth moving rather than watching the television. They also knew that they needed more freedom than that granted to ordinary to a director by the studios. They took advantage therefore of the weakness of this empire that was Hollywood to pervert it from the inside. The blockbuster modern was born : jaws, The Godfather and soon to be … Star Wars IV: A new hope.
At the time, the film seemed to have found a balance between the marketing and the creation. The works were enjoyable and original, the merchandising helped the promotion of the film and vice-and-versa.
I had no problem with this system as it allowed for the emergence at a regular interval of good movies. I personally like many sequels to original movies. I think even Mad Max : Fury Road and Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation as two of the best films of the year 2015. Therefore, the commercial exploitation of a license is not a priori inconsistent with a vision of the author and a surprising show. Obviously Christopher Nolan who had managed to get the license to Batman to his problematic personal. It was at once returned to the source of the character and had “betrayed” the tender specifications, for a critical success AND a public.
With STAR WARS VII, and Hollywood in my opinion has definitely dived to the dark side of the force : the marketing of pure, the purpose of which is disconnected from the about the film or its capacity to entertain. Hollywood seems less sell a dream, thanks to the franchise, but more of the franchises themselves. Beyond the money raised, toys, video games and other derivative products, a portion without increasing the revenue generated by a film produced in this system comes from the rights that the company assigns as provided to other companies for their benefit of the image of the film’s release. You have all seen the number of advertisements before the film, which sell the spirit of “Star Wars”, sometimes in a sense totally absurd. The trend is to make the film a pub to other pubs… The strategy has the merit to anchor in the minds of a new generation of Star Wars as a cultural reference inevitable.
It is clear that by selling its license to Disney, Georges Lucas has finally succumbed to the dark side, even though he had tried to escape with the writing (long and hard to what’s being said) of the first Star Wars from 1977. In fact, one can also see Star Wars IV : A new hope as the will of a young author (a Jedi apprentice) free themselves from the empire’s oppressive (Hollywood) with “powers” (Lucas Art and all the other companies he founded to innovate in the special effects, the sound, the production, etc). (see Technical scenario, by Pierre Jenn) the sirens of the silver will have been because of this old master…
But what is it, young padawan J. J. Abrams ? The director has not hidden his first refusal to pursue the continued adventures of George Lucas, under the tutelage of Disney. And then he saw the opportunity to play with the old characters that had been the dream child, as if he could use real people instead of minifigures collection he was so fond of. The appeal has to be huge, because J. J. Abrams was also said to have “tired of films whose title is followed by a number“. Deductibles, las, like us, he was.
Yet with his STAR WARS VII is none other than to transform this prestigious legacy, “Marvel in space”. It is the same logic as that of making reboots a thing of super-heroes. We will present each year a new film of the same super-heroes, claiming that it is larger, stronger, more incredible, but at its heart it is still the same$m$, with more and more actors in tights on green funds.
Of course, this is a company funded by franchise did not start with STAR WARS VII, but my ras-le-bol comes in proportion to the high expectations I had of this film. With a director-producer talented and innovative in his head there was a hope that the film is more original than the simple transcription of past episodes. 10 years from episode III to episode VII, but this time was not used to reflection to offer to fans and spectators, lovers of entertainment, a film that is really surprising.
“STAR WARS VII could be a movie, a lot of it is fan service. Hollywood sells the dream, but of franchises.”
My annoyance goes along with the endless extension of the Marvel universe, X-Men, James Bond and Jurassic World. By its independent origin (Lucas in 1977 was a gunslinger), I put in Star Wars, great expectations. The “marvélisation” of the identity Star Wars is for me the symptom of an evil that is much larger. If Star Wars was not able to prevent its proliferation, then there’s little hope for that this epidemic stops. What bothers me the most in STAR WARS VII is the total disappearance of the vision of the author that has J. J. Abrams in other films. There is a very strong theme that emanates from the first trilogy (IV, V, VI), the formation of the hero, which the spectator could identify with. In STAR WARS VII moves from nostalgia, to the formation of the two heroes, and then the clash of Good against Evil and finally the weight of the past on the present. These themes were certainly already present in the previous films, but had a main theme more clear, reflecting the vision of the author. STAR WARS VII lack of a spine on which to base his narrative, it is only a huge patchwork of the previous Star Wars.
You may recognize J. J. Abrams the talent to have imposed many effects-special to the old (animatronics, masks, accessories and decorations built physically) and have very well balanced with the effects-digital special. But except for this touch of “magic” (that was already very well used Guillermo del Toro on Hell Boy II) it is difficult to find the personality or the obsessions of J. J. Abrams in this new film.
So yes, J. J. Abrams has responded well to all of the requirements of the fans, as if he was filling in as a shopping list to the supermarket. But he created a body of work ? Compared to Super 8 or Star Trek, not the least of the world. Here it is now at the peak of his career. As a producer he can make and unmake the glories of the future. What will he make of this immense power ? Fall-t-it permanently to the dark side ? Or is there a hope ? Today, the real New Order, not the one in the film, but the one imposed by the marketing at work in the film, seems to have crushed any rebellion. Because I believe that what makes its strength, is also what will destroy it again from the inside, the marketing in the entertainment film will eventually find a new defeat as thunderous as the one he was known to do in the New Hollywood. More than ever we need artists, authors, screenwriters and filmmakers to redress the balance.
I sense a tremor in the creation. Everywhere in the world of independent filmmakers are reinventing new ways to fund, distribute, and communicate around their films. Who knows, maybe this is the awakening of a new force ?
AGREE ? NOT AGREE ?
+ Star Wars VII : the other side of the mirror
+ Star Wars VII : stop with the fan service !
+ Star Wars : when the future intrudes in the past
+ Star Wars : a unique experience to each
+ Retrospective honest : Star Wars, in previous episodes… • Original title : Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
• Realization : J. J. Abrams
• Screenplay : Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, Michael Arndt, according to George Lucas
• Main actors : Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
• Country of origin : U. S. A.
• Released : December 16, 2015
• Duration : 2h16min
• Distributor : The Walt Disney Company France
• Synopsis : In a galaxy far, far away, a new episode of the saga “Star Wars”, 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi”.