Probably the single most common complaint about J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was that the film simply felt too familiar, a movie that essentially re-used the template of the original ‘A New Hope’ even as it introduced some very well-regarded new characters and re-introduced some classic old ones.
Speaking with THR, Abrams has now addressed those rehash complaints saying that the formula was one used long before George Lucas’ original came along and so it is derivative in every way that the original “Star Wars” was:
“It was obviously a wildly intentional thing that we go backwards, in some ways, to go forwards in the important ways, given that this is a genre – that Star Wars is a kind of specific gorgeous concoction of George [Lucas]’s – that combines all sorts of things.
Ultimately the structure of Star Wars itself is as classic and tried and true as you can get. It was itself derivative of all of these things that George loved so much, from the most obvious, Flash Gordon and Joseph Campbell, to the [Akira] Kurosawa references, to Westerns – I mean, all of these elements were part of what made Star Wars.
I can understand that someone might say, ‘Oh, it’s a complete rip-off!’ We inherited Star Wars. The story of history repeating itself was, I believe, an obvious and intentional thing, and the structure of meeting a character who comes from a nowhere desert and discovers that she has a power within her, where the bad guys have a weapon that is destructive but that ends up being destroyed – those simple tenets are by far the least important aspects of this movie, and they provide bones that were well-proven long before they were used in Star Wars.”
Abrams goes on further, saying that by having the new characters as his main focus he could both go backwards and forwards with the franchise:
“What was important for me was introducing brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new – to go backwards to go forwards. So I understand that this movie, I would argue much more than the ones that follow, needed to take a couple of steps backwards into very familiar terrain, and using a structure of nobodies becoming somebodies defeating the baddies – which is, again, I would argue, not a brand new concept, admittedly – but use that to do, I think, a far more important thing, which is introduce this young woman, who’s a character we’ve not seen before and who has a story we have not seen before, meeting the first Storm Trooper we’ve ever seen who we get to know as a human being; to see the two of them have an adventure in a way that no one has had yet, with Han Solo; to see those characters go to find someone who is a brand new character who, yes, may be diminutive, but is as far from Yoda as I think a description of a character can get, who gets to enlighten almost the way a wonderful older teacher or grandparent or great-aunt might, you know, something that is confirming a kind of belief system that is rejected by the main character; and to tell a story of being a parent and being a child and the struggles that that entails – clearly Star Wars has always been a familial story, but never in the way that we’ve told here.”
The answer certainly implies the hope that those who had frustrations with ‘The Force Awakens’, including myself, have stated – that the subsequent chapters will focus more on moving the new story and characters forward and exploring new areas of this galaxy.
The comments come as the film has finally opened in China and soared to a stellar $33 million opening day. Abrams has also spoken about the home video release, telling EW that “there will be deleted scenes, but not an extended version” on the disc.