Preparing for The Rise of Skywalker – Part IX: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka Star Wars Episode VII) is the seventh chapter in the Skywalker Saga, and the first part of the newest trilogy. It might be getting complicated for some, but here starts the so-called “sequel trilogy” of Star Wars movies, and the first produced by a Disney-owned Lucasfilm. 

Directed by one of my favorite directors, JJ Abrams, The Force Awakens is about legacy, and the passing of the torch. The story still revolves around Skywalker, but Luke is now a whispered name rather than an on-screen presence. Instead we’re introduced to a new and younger cast of characters, and I must say that this new gang hits all the right notes, making The Force Awakens one of my favorites in the franchise. 

Finn and Rey (The Force Awakens, 2015)

In many ways, The Force Awakens followes the beats of the first Star Wars film from 1977. It is an intentional mirror image, a sort of reflection cast into the new generation. It has gotten some serious flak from many of the older fans because of this, but I find it very comforting. A sort of return to form after a long wait for new Star Wars stories. 

The story follows the girl Rey, a scavenger on the planet Jakku. She teams up with renegade stormtrooper and all-around good guy Finn, who’s on the run from the evil First Order, a sort of military junta/Empire fan club. Han Solo and Chew turns up, and they’re off to fight evil and save the Galaxy. It is not complicated, but amazingly fun, entertaining and a true Star Wars experience. 

Bad guys doing bad stuff… (The Force Awakens, 2015)

Of course, this being the first steps on a new hero’s journey, it has all the poetry and structure we have come to expect from the words of Joseph Campbell. The first steps are clearly laid out, even blatantly so. But I welcome it. We’ve seen it before with Luke, but just for this reason, Rey’s journey has a kind of poetry, and I love this movie for exactly this. 

Is it my favorite Star Wars movie? It might be. The jury is still out on the subject, especially before I’ve seen The Rise of Skywalker (bring on the 18th of December!). But it is clearly a contended for the top spot, with its likeable character, interesting premise and use of the monomyth.

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