To everyone who’s been complaining that The Force Awakens is just a lazy New Hope redux: STOP!
Please read – and watch (video below) – the following. If you still have something to complain about, then at least you’ll be complaining about the right thing. (I also addressed this at more length in my Force Awakens breakdown/predictions piece “Han Solo Isn’t Who You Think He Is“.)
The mounting protest is that co-writer/director J.J. Abrams – lacking either vision or creativity or guts, or a combination of all three – merely copied and repackaged Episode IV. This knee-jerk dig is starting to drive me up a wall. It was easy to dismiss the short-sighted snark at first, but the more I hear it the more it needs to be nipped. Have people not seen the previous two trilogies?
I apologize for my rude bluntness (especially if you’re the target), but this general grievance (see what I did there?) – often delivered with an air of smug, derisive superiority over what Abrams has not only done but actually accomplished – has left me livid with anger and aggression (yes, I know, the Dark Side are they). All of this “he just remade Episode IV” whining is starting to sound like the surly George Lucas.
Actually, it’s the exact opposite of George Lucas, i.e. the one in the 1970s who crafted the saga’s mythology – and spirituality – to do exactly what many are complaining about in regards to Episode VII, as if it’s strictly a recent flaw in Abrams’ artistic virtue. As I explain in “Han Solo Isn’t Who You Think He Is“, Lucas designed The Force as a composite of our real world religions, with the circular “echoing” nature of Hinduism being a key foundation. These echoes are regularly seen between the first two trilogies in general; in particular, corresponding episodes – I & IV, II & V, III & XI – often parallel. I dunno, maybe people were so aggravated by the prequels that they missed this recurring, intentional motif, but it’s all there.
But you don’t have take my word for it, nor do you have to rewatch all 6 episodes to catch them. Instead, just watch this short 2-minute video “Star Wars Poetry” that matches many of the echoes side-by-side for us. It’s a brilliant edit. (Thanks to Aristibule Adams for sending me the link.)
As this video shows, Episodes I & IV have recurring motifs that VII now echoes. VIII will likely echo II & V, and IX will echo III & VI. As you heard Lucas literally tell his crew, this is all by design. It always has been. It’s expressed by Maz Kanata, the spiritual voice for Episode VII (as Obi-Wan was for IV), “I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people.”
Now if you don’t like that, then that’s fine. But don’t hold it singularly against Abrams. Hold it against Lucas. Hold it against the saga. Abrams is simply staying true to the saga’s core (and, I might add, giving us truly thrilling – and emotional – renditions of those motifs). Indeed, he’d be irresponsible to abandon it.
The circular echoing parallels of Star Wars: The Force Awakens are not examples of lazy fan service. They give the unfolding narrative – in moments both big and small – its emotional resonance and connective destiny. They are the very fabric of the whole Star Wars mythology. They are the spiritual essence of The Force itself.