May the Force Awaken!

I was a teen and bored. Following my Saturday afternoon routine, I journeyed to the center of Brussels, to the movie theaters, with the dollar my mother always granted me to go to the cinema. When I reached the theater, a vibrant piece of art grabbed my attention: the movie poster showed a young man dressed in a white kimono who was pointing a cool weapon at me, and two trendy robots buzzed together.

The poster advertised “Star Wars,” but in the civilized city of Brussels where French still prevails, the title was “La Guerre des Etoiles.” I swiftly bought a ticket, but found myself in the uncomfortable position of first-row seats. I thus sat, abashed, taking in Star Wars from the edge of my front-row seat. I was immediately enchanted. It reminded me of Kubrick’s “Space Odyssey,” Asimov’s “Foundation” and Herbert’s “Dune” books. However, it was difficult to catch all the film’s details because, from my spot, all I could see and hear were screaming laser shots running from one side of the screen to the other.

When the reel finished, instead of leaving the theater with the other sweaty Wookies (it was summer in Brussels), I relocated myself in the middle of the room and I stayed for a second showing. The next day, at church, during Sunday school time, I corrupted a family of three teenagers by convincing them to ditch church and go see “Star Wars” with me. Thus I became a “Star Wars” aficionado (I do own one of the original movie storyboards with the Millennium Falcon, used by Lucas in Episode IV).

Imagine my exhilaration when the new “Star Wars” trailer for “The Force Awakens” came out during Thanksgiving weekend. However, I was left wanting more. The trailer may be 88 seconds long, but after removing all the black screen transitions, it is thinned to 43 seconds.

What the trailer renders well is the beat the movie is going to have, emblematic of the J. J. Abrams’ rhythm we have become accustomed to with the new “Star Trek” prequels. Alternating between slow motion scenes (10 seconds of fixed camera on a desert scene with nothing happening), and surprising accelerated scenes of flying SW starships and a funny, panicked soccer-like robot on steroids (everybody seems to be freaked and on steroids in the trailer), you know it is going to be adrenaline driven. As for the rest: Bonjour, mystery! There is, however, one element that makes the transition with the “Star Wars” prequel movies: the legendary Millennium Falcon.

This trailer has already generated two kinds of controversial commentaries amidst “Star Wars” fans: one regarding the use of a star trooper who is a black man, not conforming to the classic twin clones of episodes I-III (but not in conflict with the original star troopers of episodes IV-VI), and the other regarding the new, strange, sword-like and three-pronged lightsaber.

I know that, “a Jedi craves not these things,” and “difficult to see, always in motion is the future,” but I believe J. J. Abrams’ new “Star Wars” generation is going to be far more exciting than the last three movies that sacrificed plot on the altar of technology. The new “Star Wars” concession has awakened, and this no-longer-teenager waits for the best.

Alain Lescart is a French professor at PLNU.