You know the saying: “It’s the little things.” It’s difficult to imagine anything “little” about a saga as colossal as Star Wars, but it is truly the non-monumental moments that made me fall in love with Star Wars so many years ago and keep me as big a fan today. These moments are in no short supply in Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens.
It always starts with a scroll. Before I saw this film, I avoided spoilers as much as humanly possible to preserve the awe of that scroll. I didn’t know until that moment that Princess Leia is now GENERAL Leia Organa. Although never an Expanded Universe fan, I had been hearing Leia Organa Solo for so long that it was big news to me to see the words “GENERAL Leia Organa,” in the movie’s opening. I fell in love with her all over again, much more deeply than I had before. With just those words, the universe became aware that this princess is so much more than a pretty face with a hot bod. The girl in the metal bikini is running things now. Perfect. By scroll’s end, I was already hooked.
Granted, being a stormtrooper on the run is the whole point of Finn’s character, so naturally he is different from every stormtrooper who’s gone before, but there are so many uniquely nuanced Finn moments. At the first flash on the screen of the stormtroopers in ready formation in the First Order transport destined for Jakku, I wondered, “Which one is John Boyega from the trailer?!” The bloody handprint left on his helmet is an obvious sign, but it’s the moment that Finn and Kylo Ren exchange knowing glances that gives me chills. Why does Ren let Finn go? Why doesn’t he stop this clearly wayward stormtrooper whose “name” Ren knows without effort? Is there a Force connection between them? Add that to the list of things we have yet to discover, but in that small moment, the Force protects our wayward stormtrooper.
Poe Dameron’s bluster and bravado are hardly subtle, but the way he treats Finn is. It is only polite to inquire about one’s name, but the way Poe introduces himself to Finn says more about Poe’s character than the way he flies the TIE Fighter. He gives his full name, and even in the heat of that moment of escape, Poe’s nearly full attention is on his new friend…and there is no doubt that they are already friends. Poe’s warm manner and full acceptance of this wayward young stormie draw me to him, not his piloting prowess.
There is so much to love (to hate?) about Kylo Ren in this film, but I am most mesmerized by the tone of voice he affects at key moments. Is it manipulation or a weakness for the Light Side that softens his tone from Ren to Ben? Without his Dark armor, Kylo Ren sounds alternately sinister, nearly saccharine, and always seductive. I was so shocked the first time I saw him take off his helmet in Rey’s presence. Wow. But then when he speaks, I am mesmerized. It’s not so much the words he says to Rey so much as how he says them. Listen closely the next time you watch. Is Kylo Ren a master manipulator or the Prodigal Son at his farthest point from home? Both of these possibilities lurk in Adam Driver’s dulcet tones.
Maz Kanata is such an interesting character. Han flat-out tells us that she is savvy and wise, able to run her establishment for 1000 years, but the first time you saw TFA, did you expect the look of that character? I didn’t. She’s fascinating to watch and listen to, and the film focuses our attention on her knowledge and foresight. But it’s one of the first lines she speaks that softens that odd, rough exterior. “Where’s my boyfriend?” she demands of Han about Chewbacca. “I like that Wookiee,” she says in an aside to Rey and Finn, two people she’s never met. Wise, savvy, and knowledgeable and also as “one-of-us” as any odd-looking being can be. So real and down to earth that without realizing, Rey’s and Finn’s nerve level drops a notch. Has to. Mine would. That moment is brilliant.
I can’t say enough about Rey and how much I love the character. Every time I see the film, I find another little thing. The way she dons the fighter pilot helmet after voraciously finishing her meager meal on Jakku shines the spotlight on a young woman with childhood innocence clinging to her like dust on her boots. Always present. On Starkiller base, recently escaped from Kylo Ren’s clutches, she scales the sides of that large chasm exactly as she would scavenge wreckages on Jakku. That is a great, but obvious, choice for her. Less obvious is when she opens that latch and goes into that pod or hallway or whatever it is she escapes into when she pulls that lever. Rey instinctively knows about passages beneath the surface, that there is more to things than meets the eye. She knows it on the Millennium Falcon, and she knows it on Starkiller base. She just knows.
There are so many, but my favorite Rey moment and possibly my favorite “little thing” about Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens is near the end of the film when Rey runs to the dormant form of fallen Finn lying in the snow. Fearing that he’s dead, she cries openly and without reservation, holding her friend in despair as Chewie brings the Falcon around and shines its lights on her. Another wow. More chills. This girl just kicked Kylo Ren’s butt using the power of a Force she didn’t know existed until that day, and she did it with tenacity and strength that the bravest warriors don’t possess. Her knee jerk reaction should be should be to yell, “HECK YEAH!!! Let’s blow this pop stand!” at the top of her lungs. But she doesn’t. She sobs in the snow at the side of her friend. Real tears. Real pain. Every, single time I see this, I cry with her. Every time.
I could go on. And on. There are Leia’s and Han’s gray hair and wrinkles that make them more stunning than they’ve ever been. The irony of the Hoth-like conditions on Starkiller base. The lushness of the Rebel base planet in comparison. So many little things. Just like the moment in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope when big, bad Darth Vader gets into a TIE Fighter and is blasted onto the road redemption by Han Solo, the moment that I first fell so in love with Star Wars, these are the little things that mean the most to me.
This is why I love Star Wars.
Why do you?
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