So, yes, my ears perked right up when the first words of the trailer asked, “Who are you?” (Thank you, Carrie Fisher.) And as the trailer unfolded, I got very excited for this movie. And, perhaps, a bit reticent.
Trailers tell stories, of course, mini-condensed stories that act as hooks to get us to actually fork over time and money to watch them. This one (the American release) promises, by virtue of its structure and focus, a certain kind of story. It has to be a story that answers the Question, the oldest Question in the Universe, hidden in plain sight. Who are you?
The trailer doesn’t actually begin by asking the question, though. Not aurally. Visually, though, yes. We see a masked figure. Alone. In a world that’s post-apocalyptic, what with all the broken architecture, dead technology, dust and sand. And when the figure is most alone, most distant, it’s the most natural question in the world. Who are you?
“I’m no one,” comes the reply to the older woman’s question. Which is actually a poignant answer, alchemically speaking. It can come from two different places. One place (the more likely, given this is the first movie of a trilogy) is that of the beaten ego. Someone who doesn’t believe in herself, who doesn’t give herself intrinsic value, who has given up. Let us remember, though, that “giving up” or “letting go” is a precursor to Grace. For the second place such an answer can come from is from someone who has transcended ego. Who has left it behind, who has found a certain kind of emptiness inside such that space has been made to let something else in (i.e., “grace.”)
This promises, then, to be a story about Identity. How to find it. And from there, presumably, how to place it in service to something greater than one’s self. A story of grace.
The structure of the trailer reinforces this reading. It begins by strongly focusing on three individuals. First there’s Rey, the young woman we’ve briefly discussed. Next up is Finn, who’s on an entirely different spiritual journey. “I was raised to do one thing,” he says. “I’ve got nothing to fight for.” We see him crash land on a desert planet, presumably Rey’s. And it’s an interesting twist, in that what’s been a minor stock character – the Stormtrooper – is now made into a full-fledged character. Here’s the redemption story.
Next we focus on the villain, Kylo Ren. We never see his face, it being hidden by a cross between a gas mask and Darth Vader’s helmet. But what’s interesting here is that this is still a character study. He isn’t just menacing. He’s motivated. “I will finish what you started,” he says to the destroyed remnant of Vader’s mask. So, a revenge story.
It’s only halfway through the trailer that we start getting what’s usually taken to be typical Star Wars fare – a chase scene between spaceships. But even this is given a twist, because it’s not just any sort of chase scene, it’s a nostalgic one, for this chase scene features the Millenium Falcon.…