THE most highly-anticipated film of the year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, opens around the world this week to legions of die-hard fans.
Thousands are expected to attend midnight screenings dressed as their favourite characters from the saga.
Mark Hamill, who starred in the original trilogy as Luke Skywalker, spoke about the new film.
Q: Did (director) J.J. Abrams talk to you about his vision?
A: I think in general we talked about our view of what we liked about the films because I always thought the original trilogy clearly reflects a love for movies. We talked about the snappy repartee and great humour. It seemed to combine so many elements of things that were instantly recognisable but put together in a new way. Everything old is new again. So, rather than sitting down and laying out his vision for the film, we started talking about, not just the Star Wars film, but movies in general. I just hit it off with J.J. instantly. He’s easy to talk to, fun to be around.
Q: Do you think that they’ve made the world modern in a relatable sense?
A: It’s such a recognisable world. It’s a seamless re-creation of that world that George (Lucas) created, and yet with all new situations and characters. Many of these young people know so much more about these pictures than I do, because I have not seen them recently. I wasn’t one of those people who wanted to sit down and watch himself. They’re honouring what has existed before, but coming up with new characters and new obstacles. New conflicts. And, like I say, the emphasis is very much on relatable characters. And that’s what I think is so smart about all of this. Now that they can create anything they want visually, what lasts in the end are people and characters that you care about.
Q: Many audiences will have never seen the original film. What do you want them to take away?
A: I always thought there was a great undercurrent of optimism in these films. There’s a lack of cynicism there. They reinforce what all great fables and fairytales tell you. Perseverance and purity of heart will help you succeed. I hope they’re uplifting. I hope they have the humour they had. I hope they don’t take themselves too seriously. I’ve got my fingers crossed that for a six-year-old who’s never seen them, that it’ll be great fun; scary but not too scary. I hope it gives them a sense of adventure and the feeling that if they work really hard and give it their all, they can succeed as well. That’s what it’s all about.
One of the things that I thought was spectacular about the first trilogy was that Luke was nobody special, just a farm boy. He was somebody who wanted to do well, found the right teacher, followed the teachings and was able to save the galaxy. It’s exaggerated, and fanciful, but you felt it was an uplifting experience. It was perfect for its time, when we were cynical. It’s amazing that not that much has changed in the real world. This is a chance to escape from all that and at the same time learn a few life lessons.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 17.