‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: Will Secrecy Be Its Greatest Strength?
J.J. Abrams is nothing if not secretive when it comes to his various projects. He’s made a habit of keeping his major projects under wraps for as long as the studio will allow, even going so far as to construct a wall of shipping containers around his set while shooting for Star Trek: Into Darkness years ago. In the end, it’s a refreshingly different philosophy that goes directly against the modern Hollywood culture of teasers, trailers, and behind-the-scenes photos from paparazzi. If Marvel’s Ant-Man ad cycle taught us anything, it’s that there’s no limit to how far the film industry will go when it comes to advertising.
For no project has this been more evident than Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Here we are, two and a half months out from opening night, and still we have no information regarding the basic plot or character roles. To give you some perspective, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice releases in Spring 2016, and already we have two trailers that meticulously break down the story and a full understanding of each character’s role within the film. Conversely, The Force Awakens is a rare example of a major Hollywood blockbuster that’s been kept completely under wraps.
Some may see this as putting the movie at a disadvantage. Part of the reason for the massive cycle of teasers and trailers is building hype. Star Wars, though, is a franchise that doesn’t need this in order to sell tickets. Fans have been waiting 10 years for another installment, and over 30 for one that wasn’t cluttered with flat acting and too many special effects. In the meantime, we’ve seen just enough leak out to get us interested, while still not giving away any important details.
Consider for a moment the reception for the very first Star Wars film, way back in 1977. No one knew quite what they were getting into, what to expect, or really anything about the massive universe that would dominate pop culture for decades to come. Everything we’ve heard about The Force Awakens tells us that its main goal is to recapture the sense of wonder when everyone first saw that Star Destroyer fill the frame in the opening moments of A New Hope. A return to practical effects and a more adventurous, exciting tone already seem to be in the cards. But even more than that, we’ll be entering the theater just like people did in 1977: with our sense of wonder and mystery still intact.
It’s difficult to impress modern audiences desensitized by the aggressively present CGI that’s become the norm. Combine that with teaser and trailer cycles that give away entire films, and it’s a trend that robs us of that wonder audiences of the past were allowed to have. The Force Awakens will mark a welcomed return to this, thanks in large part to Abrams’s propensity for keeping secrets. His commitment to this has been so prevalent, that he didn’t even want to release the initial teaser that debuted last December.
If between now and December, more plot details surface, we recommend one thing: Ignore them. Don’t read spoilers, plot rumors, or leaks. Let the magic of not knowing afford you the rare opportunity to be surprised once the opening credits for The Force Awakens roll across the screen. This is the beginning of a brand new chapter of the Star Wars saga and could very well be our only chance to walk into the theater without knowing even the most basic of story elements. That’s part of what made it special back in 1977, and that’s what will do the same come December 18.
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