Star Wars Episode VII

OK — completely off-topic (but hey !! it’s my blog !!), but I was just stunned last night when I heard the news that a new Star Wars trilogy, Episodes VII-IX, is now actually in production, with Episode VII having been given a 2015 release date.

It doesn’t matter that I never believed George Lucas’ claims that they wouldn’t be made, but I still had to triple-check the calendar to make sure that the whole, bizarre story, including the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney for $4B, wasn’t an April Fool…

I did actually hear some vague rumours about this new trilogy last year, so I shouldn’t have been so completely shocked by this news — but I am !!!

It should surprise nobody, of course, that “JabbaPapa” might be a bit of a Star Wars geek, and have been since I first saw the original in late 1977 or early 1978 (it was released down here far later than the US) — and I’ve kept my love for these films even into adulthood, because although I’ve retained the ability to watch them as if through my 12-year-old eyes, my literary studies have simultaneously developed my appreciation for their fine technical qualities, Lucas’ experiments with cinema as an art form, their often quite brilliant writing (which I think is sometimes right over the heads of the typical Star Wars fan, particularly the astonishingly baroque literary/theatrical/operatic aesthetic of Revenge of the Sith), as well as Lucas’ brilliant directing skills — that are so easily taken for granted given the sheer number of times that he’s been imitated by lesser directors.

Lucas will not be either directing or writing the new ones though ; but given the overall success of his endeavours as “creative consultant” on the Clone Wars animated series (which will also be his job title for work on the new trilogy), I think it will actually be interesting to see how that will work in the three new Star Wars Episodes.

But I have to say, that I do sometimes get quite annoyed with so many of the fans of the original trilogy, who complain about Lucas so-called “ruining” Star Wars, and about his constant re-editing of the already released films etc … It’s quite incoherent for these people to complain, loudly, about The Phantom Menace, immediately after it was released — when you then hear the exact same crowd complaining just as loudly about how he changed the film first for the DVD release (and, BTW, this was a great improvement over the original release, because the extended pod race places so much better emphasis in the overall structure on Anakin as a main character) ; but especially for the recent Blu-Ray re-release (where the improvements are both very technical, and constitute a massive boost in terms of the quality of the final edit — particularly as they really let Liam Neeson’s stunningly good performance as Qui Gonn breathe freely, instead of being so awfully stifled by that very imperfectly rendered Jar Jar that was such a huge distraction in the original edit) — because these complaints simply underscore the fact that no matter how much these fans complain about the prequel trilogy, they still get into a total hissy fit if Lucas starts tinkering with those Episodes… The fact is, even the most vocally negative original trilogy fan boy still thinks that Episodes I-III have the same kind of sacredness to them that he imagines in Episodes IV-VI.

Fun fact : Mark Hamill has had a contract for Episode VII since the early 1980s.

Sadly, the great Jabba the Hutt will not appear in the new trilogy, having been strangled to death by a cute girl in a metal bikini…

Oh, and just as a Catholic comment — FWIW, I disagree with Fr. Barron’s comments about the spirituality of Star Wars, and his description of it as pantheistic in nature ; while it’s certainly not Christian as such, except in a quite abstract manner, the Force is both immanent and transcendent as depicted in the films, as it is present in the material nature of the midi-chlorians, and it also exists as an energy field created by all living things, AND it exists in the empty space between the rock and the ship.

I’m surprised that Fr. Barron, who is usually a quite incisive theologian regarding the modern culture, didn’t realise that this ternary nature of the Force is also quite perfectly functional as a hidden metaphor of the Trinity.