Memories are a precious thing. The past and our perception of it shapes every decision we make. Some of the most important memories we have are from our childhood. Our dreams, goals, ideals, personality, fears, and so much more are defined from our youth. Our imagination is unleashed, free of the bonds of reason, culture, and social norms that we will later learn to be subject to. The sky is no limit.
To tap into those memories is important. To revisit our youthful passion and zeal is a necessity if we want to move forward. The wholeness you feel when you remember a familiar place is unmatched… your old tree house, the smell of your grandmother’s kitchen, a high school yearbook, your favorite toys, etc. These things are not just clutter to fill up our memory banks. They are the foundation (or at lease a foundation) of our identity.
This is why [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](movie:711158) is such a big deal.
In general I like Star Wars, but it didn't define my childhood. I like Star Wars the way I like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the Riddick franchise, Star Craft, Warhammer 40K, Lost Planet, and Mass Effect... it's GREAT science fiction. But this latest Star Wars trailer was special. It rose above sci-fi. The entire trailer feels like a doorway into the past. The environments, scenery, costumes, camera work, action, etc. all piece together a tone that is not like any other film that we have seen in decades.
However, it is the last five seconds that really do the trick. Harrison Ford is absolutely magical. Though Star Wars may not have defined my childhood, he defined an era of film. Seeing him return to such an iconic role, and in such a self-aware status, brings an aura of nostalgia that is quite welcome. The last five seconds of that trailer was a window into what feels like a lost age of cinema. The Star Wars prequels and the last Indiana Jones movie failed to make that connection to the past. They were more like a poor quality photo that didn’t quite capture the grandeur of history.
But this movie feels right. Ford's tone, posture, expression, and that twinkle in his eyes speak volumes as to how delicately J.J. Abrams is handling this property. He is not just bringing us back to a lost universe, but a lost time. Star Wars represents more than groundbreaking science fiction, it was a trend setting phenomenon. Being one of the most beloved and prolific trilogies of cinema history means that it is relevant even to people who don’t like it… even to people who haven’t seen it.
J.J. Abrams is not just building on a successful legacy. He is not just throwing up a giant high five to all the fans around the world. He is not just making a film that is trying to be relevant to a new generation while being respectful to an older generation.
J.J. Abrams is building a time machine. He is taking all of us back to the golden age of cinema. He is bringing the film watchers of the world together to celebrate one of the greatest game-changing movie events of all time. And he just might make history while he’s at it. Don't screw this up, J.J.