On Monday, Disney officially released a teaser to commemorate the start of production for Episode VIII and, from the footage shown, it appears that THIS episode of the hotly anticipated series will begin mere moments after Episode VII dropped the curtain. With Sage and Grizzled Luke stoically appraising Rey, as she holds her arm outstretched, delivering unto Luke his own father’s (possibly) Dark Side-tainted saber.
Its an epic moment to be sure.
And it’s the kind of moment that Star Wars fans have never seen before.
We all remember the end of “A New Hope”, right? The John Williams score swelling as the heroes climb the stairs to be honored by the sole remaining, ex-inhabitant of Alderaan? Chewie gets passed over for a medal (I clearly remember him taking part in a daring rescue of some kind…) and screen suddenly wipes to black and the credits roll. These scenes have been burned into all of our collective memories by years of (borderline obsessive) repeat viewings.
Well, then you must all remember watching “Empire Strikes Back”? And how, after the blare of trumpets and the opening scrawl fades away, the movie returns us right back to those very same stairs, not even a hot second later? With all of our heroes still grinning like idiots, wearing their new, shiny medals and trying to catch a ride to the galactic after-party? Of course you don’t!
Well if Disney’s new promotional video for Episode VIII is to be taken at face value, that’s exactly what we’re going to get with their still untitled follow-up to last December’s wildly successful “reboot” of the Star Wars franchise, “The Force Awakens”.
An immediate return to the action from movie-to-movie is unprecedented in the Star Wars universe. And I believe that it’s been that way, up to now, for good reason. In every other sequel to a Star Wars movie (prequels included, if you’re into that sort of thing…) we catch up with our heroes months, if not years, later. In “Empire” we return to find our heroes hiding out on a remote planet. Having been pushed to the brink by a relentless and powerful Empire. We find out that they’re barely holding on, after untold battles with their opponents.
And that’s the key word there: Untold.
By giving the original movies unspecified spans of time between sequels it enriches the storytelling. In “Return of the Jedi”, Luke’s return to the screen is punctuated by him confronting Jabba and declaring that he’s a friggen Jedi! Last time we had seen him he was still licking his wounds and hoping “The Stranger” worked with a mechanical hand. The leap between his states in these two movie incites wonder, curiosity, intrigue. It encourages us as the audience to fill in the blanks. It allows the hero to grow beyond the confines of the screen.
Only time will tell if Episode VIII will actually begin with Luke’s (sure to be epic) first words to Rey or, if it will begin with the pair already onto a new adventure, with those first words lost, living on only in our own imaginings. Either way, December 17th can’t get here soon enough.