As I sat at the restaurant waiting for my client to meet me for the lunch appointment where we would discuss ways to design a web page geared towards grabbing the attention of the young people and entertain them while informing them about things that could jeopardize their futures, I thought back to when I was a kid.
There weren’t such clear-cut channels to get this information. Libraries, parental advice, and the occaisional public service announcement. More often than not, the response young people make to things that aren’t fun is to defy them. An uphill battle…
I was about 5 when I saw Star Wars for the first time. Return of the Jedi came out in 1983, six years later. I cannot remember a thing in between. A birthday here, the loss of a loved one there, but the years in between were a flash. Just about everything I can remember relates to the films. Waiting for the next film, playing with the toys, reading the comics, waiting for the tv specials.
As a result, in addition to my family, my mentors and friends included Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi, Han Solo, and the rest of the gang. Their struggle was mine, and mine theirs.
Next thing I knew, I was a teenager, and out in the world. It’s a very open world at that point. Everything comes your way. Every potential good thing, as well as the bad. Without a sense of values, many good people get lost (to the dark side?). They succumb to habits, vices, and behaviors that ultimately leave them in a very bad place. I had values, and I can trace a few of them towards that universe I so fondly merged with in 1977.
The strength of the individual.
The importance of seeing through crisis to get to the right resolution.
Working well with others. Knowing it is much easier to destroy than create.
The many themes explored in the films are nothing new. They’ve been done before a thousand times. What made it special was that these films served as a conduit into me (and millions of others), they made a difference. Each generation needs something like this, and it can take many forms. This trailer (you knew I’d get to it eventually) is the first glimpse of what may be this generation’s conduit. I hope so, because there hasn’t been much progress yet.
After a decade and a half, Star Wars is back. For some, like myself, it’ll be a return to a world very much a part of ourselves. For some, like Obi-Wan once said, “It’ll be your first step into a larger world”. Either way, whereas every summer in the Memorial Day slot there is the latest “Event” film, this coming year there will be an event that transcends film. Regardless of the merchandising (it’ll be everywhere) and the hype, this film is most importantly the return of some very good friends who’ve been gone too long, as well as some new friends we’re dying to meet.
The trailer is two minutes and twenty seconds. After seeing it for the 10th time, I can only say I’m awestruck. It’s way too short, and there isn’t much exposition, but you can feel the magic from the very first shot of the people riding these strange beasts out of the swamp. The chills in my spine were only the beginning.
Everyone will see the trailer soon, and come to their own conclusions, but the barrage of imagery: The sight of the Queen (Natalie Portman) in her Kabuki- esque facepaint, Qui-Gon (Liam Neeson) with his young friends Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin (Jake Lloyd). The ultra-sleek metallic starship. The translucent space dragon. The evil Darth Maul with his double bladed lightsaber, and so on and so on are SO AMAZING.
There are some iffy things: Yoda looks kinda corny. Some of the CGI creatures look CGI. We never here Anakin speak, and you never know with child actors. They are minor complaints, as this trailer is the bees knees.
Here’s Lucasfilm’s comments on the trailer: “The trailer for Episode I runs over two full minutes, filled with a full spectrum of images from George Lucas’ newest movie. “The trailer works together conceptually with the advance one-sheet and theatrical banner,” commented Jim Ward, Lucasfilm Director of Marketing. “They are all united in how they speak about the film. We wanted to convey that Episode I is the beginning of the Star Wars saga. At heart it’s the story of Anakin Skywalker, a young boy who must begin to face the destiny ahead of him. And without ruining the surprise of the film, we wanted the images in the trailer to introduce people to the amazing visions in Episode I.”
Director George Lucas was closely involved in the development of the piece, which both reveals and conceals exactly what he wants for audiences at this time. Teams at 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm worked together to craft a trailer that conveys key aspects of the film and its story within a dazzling array of images. “It may look like this trailer gives away a lot,” says the trailer’s editor Mark Mrnka, “but it’s only scratching the surface.” Ben Burtt prepared special sound tracks mixed by Gary Rydstrom, offering at least one “special touch” for fans who notice subtlety. “We’re excited about it,” Jim Ward admits. “We can’t wait for our fans to see it.”
What a wonderful time it is.