Sun, 26 February 2017
In this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories, we discuss Star Wars storytelling from a range of mediums, including books, television, and movies. Kay, Tricia, and B.J. are joined by FANgirl contributor Linda for our discussion and conversation.
Before getting into storytelling analysis, we share our reactions to recent officially released Star Wars news. We talk about the toy box character images for The Last Jedi, the announcement of major panels at Celebration for The Last Jedi and the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars, and the beginning of principal photography for the young Han Solo standalone movie, which also included confirmation of several additional cast members.
For our meta segment, instead of examining our usual theme of speculating wisely we delve into the ongoing problem of unapproved spoiler leaks made by individuals with review copies of books. The situation garnered widespread attention this month in connection with Chuck Wendig’s new novel Aftermath: Empire’s End. While some amount of leaks on social media has been typical, this time major genre sites such as Mashable and io9 reported on an interlude in the book prior to the book’s release. Although screener episodes of television shows present a similar risk, Star Wars fandom has been fairly lucky in that regard compared to extensive leaks seen in The Walking Dead fandom. We discuss the obligations owed by reviewers to other fans, as well as potential reactions by Lucasfilm or other franchises to reduce the occurrence of these spoilers.
Star Wars Rebels aired a pair of episodes centered on Sabine Wren, “Trials of the Darksaber” and “Legacy of Mandalore,” that take the focus of our world-building segment. We examine Sabine’s story arc over the three seasons of the show, culminating in these episodes, especially the development of her interactions with Ezra and Kanan. We note in particular, too, the importance of “Legacy of Mandalore” as a mother-daughter story, which so far have been sparse in Star Wars. With their inclusion of the Darksaber legend and the political upheaval within the culture, these episodes also position Mandalorians as a powerful third faction in the galaxy along with the Jedi and Sith or the Rebellion and the Empire.
The storytelling segment this month revisits Rogue One to analyze the controversial use of computer-generated effects to create the faces of Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia in the film. While storytelling sometimes requires the inclusion of certain characters due to the context or themes of a tale, only the live-action cinema side of Star Wars raises the issue of casting those roles with actors. In Rogue One some characters were played by their original actors, others were recast, and CG was used for Tarkin and Leia. Guy Henry’s interviews with Business Insider and The Hollywood Reporter provide insight into the creative process of performing the role, but do not answer the question whether it was necessary to digitally substitute the late Peter Cushing’s face for Henry’s. With the Han Solo movie also recasting several iconic characters, we share our thought on whether Lucasfilm should ever repeat the digital-face technique after Rogue One.
Tue, 31 January 2017
This month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories continues our discussion of storytelling lessons to be learned from Rogue One. In addition, we look ahead to the next Star Wars film and share our thoughts on the legacy of Carrie Fisher.
We begin with our reactions to the newly revealed title of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. The title has connections to The Force Awakens, of course, as well as to familiar themes from other Star Wars stories and the Legends tales. We also ponder the potential implications of the red lettering used in the title announcement.
In our meta segment on speculating wisely, we evaluate the role of movie trailers in speculation on future Star Wars films. For both that film and The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm has released trailers which seek to convey the tone, themes, and feel of the story but which include scenes and dialogue that do not appear in the final film. We discuss the merits and risks of this approach, particularly if the franchise is trying to maintain a lockdown on spoilers. On the other hand, it is now clear that both The Force Awakens and Rogue One were undergoing major editing, reshoots and pickups, dialogue replacement, and others changes in the months, even final weeks, before the films’ releases. With Rogue One in particular, some of the seeming inconsistencies in the characterization of Jyn Erso in the early trailers compared to the later trailers and advertisements may have arisen from the changes made during Tony Gilroy’s significant reworking of the story. This raises a comparison to Star Wars Rebels, which, like The Clone Wars before it, has a consistent track record of trailers that include scenes and dialogue matching the final episodes to air. We wonder whether Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, which already is deep into editing and seems to have avoided the mad dash revising of the previous two films, will have trailers and marketing more comparable to Rebels than those movies.
Our segment on world-building also revisits the production process of Rogue One and its ramifications on the story and characters. Relying on the information revealed in The Art of Rogue One, as well as a number of recent interviews by the film’s editors, we discuss major shifts in the development process. The stage of development for the characters and story of Rogue One include the initial treatment and sizzle reel by John Knoll, creative development in 2014 led by Gareth Edwards and Gary Whitta culminating in a screenplay by Whitta, a script rewrite by Chris Weitz (including, among other things, the creation of Chirut and Baze), principal photography by Edwards in 2015, extensive script revisions and reshoots from Tony Gilroy in the summer of 2016, and then final editing of the film into its ultimate form. We discuss how these instances of significant rethinking, over a relatively short span of time, impacted the tone, feel, and internal consistency of the plot and characters.
This month’s storytelling segment is dedicated to Carrie Fisher. In addition to talking about her importance as Leia Organa, both within the story and to fandom and the real world, we also share our thoughts on Carrie Fisher as a storyteller herself. From her script doctoring to Postcards from the Edge and The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher could make us laugh and cry, and sometimes both at the same time.