A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…there lived a man called George. George was young, optimistic and had great ideas. He shaped these great ideas into a film; a film that would change the direction of cinema. It was called Star Wars – later to be dubbed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and it was released in 1977. It followed the adventures of Luke Skywalker, a young man who dreams of a better and bigger life as his adventures begin with a wise old man named Obi Wan Kenobi, a heroic Princess called Leia and a roguish smuggler called Han Solo.
After making the first he declared it to be a the first part of a trilogy, but not only that this trilogy was the middle part of a trilogy of trilogies. George stopped making films after that. He wrote the stories and built the universe but mostly focussed on the technology surrounding cinema, founding companies that would break the mould in the creation of special effects and working with cinema chains to improve the quality of sound and picture. His trilogy continued with Irvin Kershner directing The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Richard Marquand helming Return of the Jedi in 1983.
Things went quiet for a long time after that, although with the rise of home video, along with expanded universe books and games, the fandom grew and grew.George was just waiting for the technology to catch up with his ideas and in the late 1990s, that’s what happened. The Star Wars Special Editions were released in 1997, bringing the original trilogy back to cinemas with all new sound and special effects as well as some inexplicable changes. Around this time, it was announced there would be a whole new trilogy, prequels to the original films charting the rise and fall of a Jedi named Annakin Skywalker.
George had a point to prove and would write and direct all of these prequels himself. Sadly he wasn’t the bright young man with ideas any more but the head a huge empire where nobody would challenge any of his ideas. His films alienated many of the fans of the originals and featured under-realised characters interacting on over-realised computer generated sets. George decided to retire. It seemed audiences would never get to see that final trilogy and there wasn’t a great appetite for it anyway.
Fast forward to 2012 and Disney, owner of Pixar, Marvel and around half the money in the world, decide to buy Lucasfilm. They almost instantly announce the new trilogy of films along with a number of spin-off movies outwith the main Star Wars narrative giving them another billion dollar super franchise to, hopefully, replicated the success they’ve had with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After much courting, JJ Abrams signed up to direct the new film which would shoot at Pinewood Studios in England with original trilogy stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher along with a few other returning to the roles that made their names. The new cast also includes Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o and Max von Sydow. Today you get the first look at the future of the galaxy far far away.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will be in cinemas 18 December 2015