It wasn’t easy penetrating the veil of secrecy surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) enjoyed discussing themes and metaphors as the Yoda of the inner circle with J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy.
So what was the eureka moment when they finally cracked the story?
“It was about keying in on what J.J. and I wanted to feel when we were done,” Kasdan emphasized. “What was it about New Hope that was so exciting and so much fun? What was it about Empire? And we wanted that for this movie. It was about a feeling we wanted to restore the saga to.”
That required not simply restating the good vs. evil struggle, but making history repeat itself for the next generation’s hero and villain: Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). ”Whenever you see a historical film or read a book of history, you’re just shocked that everything’s being repeated,” Kasdan added. “And these horrifying news events [the Paris attacks and San Bernardino mass shooting] have such recent antecedents that are forgotten. And the things that threaten our peace of mind have not changed much over the years.”
It’s worth noting that when Star Wars first arrived in 1977, it literally provided a “new hope” for moviegoers mired in a decade of cinematic despair, which Robert Towne (Chinatown) thematically characterized as “the futility of good intentions.”
For Kasdan, storytelling’s about the most primal internal struggle, which Star Wars tapped into: ”Everything I’ve ever done on my own is about the fact that we’re at war with ourselves and the constant battle between our sense of responsibility and our desires, which are not necessarily related to our responsibilities,” he explained.
In other words, it’s easier to be selfish than selfless, which connects Kasdan’s Body Heat, The Big Chill and Silverado, as well his work on Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, Kylo Ren, commander of The First Order, who’s obsessed with Darth Vader, is very relatable. “There’s never been a character like Kylo in the saga—he hasn’t got his shit together… But what you’re getting is all the contradictions and the conflicts that any one of us could feel at any moment,” Kasdan said.
Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.