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Trailer Analysis: ‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’

Joey Sack ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The time has finally come: the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been released in select theaters across the country and on iTunes Trailers. It’s only 88 seconds long, but in those 88 seconds, they provide us with enough images and sounds to get fans excited to see this return to a galaxy far, far away. Let the speculation and analysis begin…

Still from Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.
Still from Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.

The trailer features a gravelly-voiced narrator, possibly a Force-sensitive being, who senses an “awakening” of “the dark side and the light,” quite obviously talking about the light and dark sides of the Force. He asks an unknown individual if they have felt it as well, and here is where we can first speculate. This unknown narrator is clearly well-versed in the ways of the Force, being able to sense a sort of awakening in it, and the person he’s talking to is probably likewise gifted in the ways of the Force. Could the narrator perhaps be speaking to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)? There have been rumors about this film’s plot that involve Luke having become a hermit for the past 30 years since Return of the Jedi. Could this be confirmation of that rumor, or is Luke now the Grand Master of a reborn Jedi Order, and has simply ignored warning signs about the ever-changing flow of the Force? It’s unknown at this point, but that won’t stop people from speculating.

We also see several shots of a desert area that we can only assume is the desert planet of Tatooine, including a shot of newcomer John Boyega dressed in updated Stormtrooper armor (without a helmet), and a droid that appears to move around on top of a ball, and perhaps serves as this new band of heroes’ version of R2-D2 (even though R2 is confirmed to be in the new movies).

John Boyega in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.
John Boyega in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.

A few shots show more Stormtroopers in what appears to be a drop-ship preparing for battle. This could be indicative of continuing conflicts in the galaxy, even so many years after the deaths of the Emperor and his right-hand man, Darth Vader.

We also see some shots of new cast member Daisy Ridley getting on a speeder and moving towards a group of ships parked in the deserts of what we can, again, assume is Tatooine. In terms of the new actors in this film who will come to be this trilogy’s version of Luke, Leia, and Han, it looks like their stories will converge on the desert homeworld of two generations of the Skywalker family, Tatooine. What sequence of events that will lead them to the home planet of Luke Skywalker and his father before him is unknown, but we can guess that at last one of these young heroes had a fairly boring life until fate, or in this case, the Force, intervened and set them on a path toward greatness.

Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.
Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.

Three of the most important shots of the trailer include the following: a shot of three X-Wing fighters flying in formation, skimming the surface of a body of water, a hooded figure wielding a lightsaber with a couple of mini-blades sticking out perpendicular to the main blade, and a shot of Han Solo’s (Harrison Ford) iconic ship, the Millennium Falcon, doing vertigo-inducing maneuvers over the deserts of Tatooine as the ship engages in battle with two TIE Fighters.

Still from Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.
Still from Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.

Let’s start with the X-Wings: they’re clearly updated from the time of the Rebellion, though the uniforms the fighters wear seem to have changed little in the 30 years since Return of the Jedi. The world where the ships are seems reminiscent of other planets in the Star Wars canon, and could easily be a new planet or an old fan favorite like Naboo (using the term “favorite” lightly, given divided feelings on the prequel trilogy). The X-Wing fighters are most likely on a different planet than we’ve seen before, as a new trilogy pretty much guarantees new worlds for fans to fall in love with.

Still from Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.
Still from Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.

Now how about that lightsaber? It’s not uncommon for the Star Wars universe to churn out some bizarre variations on this “elegant weapon for a more civilized age,” such as double-bladed lightsabers, lightsaber pikes, and light clubs, to name a few examples from the films and Expanded Universe. The lightsaber in question has a red blade, suggesting that its owner is a Sith (a person who is in line with the dark side of the Force, for those of you who don’t know). The blade seems to have more pulses of energy going through it, and the activation sound is different than normal lightsabers. To be honest, the blade looks more like a blade of fire rather than a blade of pure energy. The addition of the two smaller blades that stick out perpendicular to the main blade gives this lightsaber the appearance of an old sword from perhaps the time of knights in the Middle Ages, perhaps showing a new emphasis in terms of fighting style. In the original trilogy, most lightsaber duels consisted of heavy attacks with two hands on the hilt of the saber, and in the prequel trilogy, duels were much more acrobatic. This new lightsaber may be a culmination of the trend set by the original trilogy, with fighting styles that have more of a focus on brute strength as opposed to speed and agility being the norm. Regardless, it’s still an awesome-looking weapon, and fans will be waiting with baited breath to see it in action.

Still from Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.
Still from Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.

And finally, there’s the pièce de resistance, the closest thing we got to seeing an original cast member in this trailer: the aerial stunts of the Millennium Falcon, quite possibly piloted by Han Solo and Wookiee first mate Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). It looks pretty much identical to how it looked all those years ago, as it appears that Han and Chewie have been doing a good job of keeping their ship up to snuff. It’s also clear that Han, even no longer in his prime, can still fly the Falcon with unmatched skill, especially in the atmosphere of a planet, which is not something we saw a lot of in the original trilogy.

Two questions going through people’s minds throughout this trailer may be very simple ones, but with likely complicated answers: why are there still Stormtroopers, X-Wings, and TIE Fighters in the Star Wars universe, and why are TIE Fighters attacking the Millennium Falcon? Well, these questions may indicate a few things: first, the Galactic Civil War between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance may not have ended after Return of the Jedi. That conflict may still be going on in the Star Wars universe, with the death of Emperor Palpatine having no real effect on the Empire’s goals. Maybe this is why Luke has gone into exile, feeling as though he has failed both the Rebellion and the memory of his father. Second, though least likely, after the Galactic Civil War, the Galaxy was divided in half, with the Republic ruling one part of the galaxy and the Empire ruling the other; now the Empire desires to take back what they believe is rightfully theirs.

Third, the Rebellion emerged victorious in the Galactic Civil War, restored the Galactic Republic as the ruling government of the galaxy, and 30 years later, remnants of the Galactic Empire have gathered their forces to try and recreate the vision that Palpatine had for the galaxy. This last theory seems the most likely, and it’s rooted in the logic of the Expanded Universe (which is now no longer canon); after the end of the Galactic Civil War, there were quite a few people and star systems who remained loyal to the Empire’s goals, and as the newly-formed Imperial Remnant, they settled beyond the reach of the Galactic Republic. Although, this theory does leave the loyalties of John Boyega’s character in question; maybe he’s a villain, maybe he starts out working for the bad guys and then joins the good guys later on, or he may just be pulling the same trick Luke and Han did in the very first Star Wars movie, wearing Stormtrooper armor to sneak behind enemy lines. Suffice it to say, fans will be debating from now until December 2015 on who the line between good and evil are drawn in this movie.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres on December 18th, 2015, and people who want to see this trailer can check it out online and in select theaters across the country. We’ve taken our first step into a larger world; the world of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. May the Force be with us, always.

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