Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Film // Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I wasn't a Star Wars fan growing up. It was one of the many franchises that I only ever seemed to see in flashes and disorganised pieces at my grandparents house (the original trilogy, in the case of Star Wars -- never the prequels) and so as much as I understood everything I needed to for the sake of its influence on pop culture, I hadn't ever really seen Star Wars. It wasn't deliberate; I just wasn't really into science fiction and space at the time. Then, with the announcement of the new sequels trilogy, I finally sat down and watched all six Star Wars films before the release of The Force Awakens. I preferred the original trilogy, I enjoyed the films, but I wasn't necessarily grabbed by them in the way that other interests of mine seem to take over my life.

Then The Force Awakens happened, and I was in.

I reckon I have a different appreciation for the original trilogy now, but this new trilogy feels like it's mine. I imagine it's why there's a certain generation who adore Star Wars so much, and why some of that generation don't seem to love these new films like they loved the originals. They're looking for nostalgia, looking to feel the way now that they felt back then, but this new trilogy can't possibly do that. Films are absolutely a reflection of the time they're made in and the people who go see them, which is likely why these films resonate so hard with me. First, I'm not looking to them to remind me of my youth or to bring me that same joy I remember; I watched the original trilogy in my early twenties, already knowing the entire plot and having seen most of the films already (just never all of them together, in the right order, in one sitting). Then secondly, I think these films are being targeted more towards the under 35s than to those fans who saw the original trilogy when it first opened, or those who saw it when they were young and not quite as aware of the plot. That isn't to say that anyone older can't love these new films too, of course... but statistics seem to show that on opening weekend, over 60% of the audience was under 35, so it just makes sense that in many ways, the current trilogy is aimed at a new generation of Star Wars fans, like me, more than it's aimed at the die hard fans who've been around for a while.

The Last Jedi also feels almost painfully relevant to the bigger picture that is modern politics and society. The imagery and symbolism used around the First Order is incredibly reminiscent of the rise and power of Nazism in the 1930s, worryingly present and growing again today. The almost sickeningly lavish wealth shown in the casino scene, which some viewers thought should have been cut or left out of the final film, was a perfect representation of the kind of greed and selfishness damaging society, and leads to various realisations (mostly for Finn) about the larger effects of this kind of greed on the individual and on the many, and about fighting for the many. So many of the messages of this film seem intended to buoy and encourage the viewer to stand up and fight to protect what they love in a time filled with hate and anger, especially from the political so-called 'leadership' of the biggest nations of the world.

Plus, I liked that there was some humour in this - I don't quite understand the criticism of the humour in the film that I've seen online. The most memorable and beloved moments of mine from the original trilogy are almost all humour based ones (because really, Harrison Ford's facial expressions are a gift), so it feels right to me, and a little comic relief from the deeper moments of the film is wonderful too.

Also, as a parting note: the porgs are really effing cute, and I recently read that they were added to the film because they couldn't get rid of the puffins when filming on the island used for the Jedi temple on Ahch-To; and for that I will be eternally grateful.