The beautiful and frustrating thing about a Star Wars film is that we rarely know what to expect, but we all like to guess – and we all like to be titillated by the stars and other creative people involved in the films.
The incredibly charming and insightful John Boyega whose character, Fin (FN-2187), was one of the breakout fan favourites in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, recently spoke about the next instalment in the saga to Variety and Vulture while at the Cannes Film Festival in France.
A question a lot of the media and a good many fans often ask is “will Episode VIII be darker?” Some of us who love pop culture seem to have a worrying preoccupation with how dark, nasty, and downright depressing a movie or television series needs to be.
Which is confusing, because we constantly move the goal posts and shoot off mixed messages. Media pundits often wonder if “The Walking Dead has gone too far?” and “become too dark?” while at the same time deriding Fear the Walking Dead for not being dark enough. Man of Steel was criticised for being too dark but so many people seemed to want it to follow in the footsteps of The Dark Knight, which was, funnily enough, pretty dark. At the same time, people can’t get enough of the sadistic dysfunction of a bunch of people fighting over a steel seat in Game of Thrones. Damien, the series that follows in the footsteps of The Omen apparently isn’t gory enough, but American Horror Story apparently went too far.
Either media critics have a serious personality disorder, and the public really doesn’t know what it wants, or writers, actors, directors and producers everywhere just need to give us all the middle finger and make what they want to make because it’s obvious we don’t have a clue what we want.
Personally, I hope Rian Johnson doesn’t give a crap and isn’t listening to the contradictory and often fickle arguments. I hope he just gives us a mind-blowing movie that’s true to him as an artist, and true to the saga of a family caught up in the events of a galaxy far, far away.
Historically, Star Wars has become a film about family. An extraordinary family, but a family never the less. To date, the films have always taken us on a journey with each trilogy, one that focuses on the Skywalkers, and that journey has always been a mix of tragedy and joy, light and dark.
In the original trilogy, each movie had it’s dark aspects – Episode IV had the merciless destruction of an entire planet, the torture of a Princess, the slaughter of one of our heroes’ only known family, and the death of a revered Jedi Knight. Episode V had the betrayal by a supposed friend, the capture and entombment in carbonite of one of our heroes, and another of our heroes lost his hand after being told he was the son of one of the most evil men in the galaxy. Episode VI saw our only heroine enslaved by a giant slug, the suggestion one of our heroes might have to kill his father to banish the dark side from the galaxy, the slaughter of hundreds of cuddly little bear creatures, and the sort of suicide of the saga’s main villain.
Episode I saw a young Queen lose her throne to a greedy corporate collective, explored the issue of slavery, saw a mother lose her son to the Jedi, and the death of one of the film’s heroes. Episode II saw the attempted assignation of a politician, the revelation someone somewhere had grown a clone army, the death of our young hero’s mother, the capture and attempted execution of all our heroes, and the secret wedding of a Jedi and a Senator. Episode III was perhaps the darkest Star Wars film of them all, with our hero surrendering to his fears and sliding into the arms of the dark side which leads him to slaughter children and eventually kill the love of his life.
And people think Empire is dark.
I think a lot of fans, when they call Episode V dark, mean that it’s atmospheric. When you look at V verses every other Star Wars film, it’s definitely not the darkest. It does end on a cliffhanger, and tonally it is the most emotional – thanks to the spectacular performances of Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford during the scene where Han is frozen, and Mark Hamill’s brilliant and heart-breaking performance when Darth Vader delivers his saga defining news, but it’s not the bleakest of all the films by a long shot.
John, in answering the question about how dark VIII will be, pretty much says that any level of ‘darkness’ will come down to the individual perspectives of the viewer. He does, however, say it will be darker than VII… which worries me! Hello? Han, anyone?
In both interviews, John talks about the joys of working with Rian Johnson, his new co-stars, the possibility of a romance with Rey, and how Episode VIII is BIG and will blow us all away.
To check out the interviews, visit my two favourite Star Wars fansites, Making Star Wars and Star Wars Underworld here and here.
Star Wars: Episode VIII is set to be released in cinemas around the world on the 15th of December next year.
The movie has been written, and is also being directed, by Rian Johnson, and stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisey Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran.