Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy talks STAR WARS: EPISODE VII; John Williams confirmed for new trilogy

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One week on from San Diego Comic-Con, and it was time for the House of Mouse to hold their own event. Though this one featured less fully-grown men awkwardly posing for photos with girls dressed as cartoon characters, but instead focused on Disney’s most recent high profile acquisition in the form of the Star Wars Celebration Europe expo.

While there were no groundbreaking announcements (so Ryan Gosling isn’t Luke Skywalker’s son? Awwww!), a progress update on the highly anticipated JJ Abrams directed Star Wars: Episode VII does sound rather promising. Also, an old friend is back.

That friend is none other than five time Academy Award winnerJohn Williams, the man who composed the original iconic Star Wars theme – one of the most memorable and easily recognisable pieces of music in cinematic history – and has subsequently provided his music magic on all six of the films. Williams’ name has become synonymous with Star Wars, and it was a little worrying that we hadn’t heard anything about his involvement, but luckily Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has now confirmed that Williams will be scoring Episode VII and its sequels.

Williams conducted an interview with StarWars.com, where he revealed how he will be going about creating the new score, as well as what it’s like working on the film with Kennedy and Abrams.

As Williams mentioned, he hasn’t read any of the script yet, and that’s probably because there is no script yet. Not in a full-on, ready to start shooting sense at least. Kathleen Kennedy revealed (via IGN) that she’s currently participating in story discussions with Abrams and the writers, as they’re still busy trying to get two main aspects (no, George Lucas, not Jar Jar Binks and merchandising) of story and character nailed down.

“The story and characters are all we’re talking about right now. We have an amazing team at ILM, who can create fantastic effects, but if we don’t have a great story and characters, the effects mean nothing. I do think making huge popular culture – and I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of a lot it – is really hard to do and get right. And if you don’t spend the time you need on developing characters, and finding stories, complicated stories, the audience gets tired because they think they’re seeing the same thing again and again.”

I’m not one of those Star Wars fans that consider the prequel trilogy to be completely irredeemable, but they did sometimes feel more like George Lucas tech demos rather than the gripping yarns they could be. The fact that Kennedy and co are taking this long to get that part right, certainly is encouraging. Especially since they’re going back to the more physical form of filmmaking that Lucas employed for the original trilogy, before he discovered the magic of Adobe After Effects.

“It’s a conversation we’re having all the time in the development of ‘Episode VII.’ Looking at all the Star Wars movies and getting a feel for what even some of the early films did, combining real locations and special effects – that’s something we’re looking very seriously at. So we’re going to find some very cool locations that we’re going to use in support of ‘Episode VII.’ And I think we’re probably going to end up using every single tool in the toolbox to create the look of these movies.”

“It’s using model makers; it’s using real droids; it’s taking advantage of artwork that you actually can touch and feel. And we want to do that in combination with CG effects. We figure that’s what will make it real.”

You had me at “models”. Not the leggy kind (though those are also welcome), but the handbuilt scaled models, which I have come to seriously miss in movies. Yes, it is more limiting working with physical models rather than CGI ones, but there’s a real-worldliness about a physical model that I have yet to see duplicated 100% by a bank of computers.

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While I would have loved for Kennedy and friends to silence/endorse some of these latest rumours by giving us some concrete casting and/or story news, I can’t say I’m happy with what’s being said here. In fact, I’m rather buoyed by the approach that’s being taken here. It shows an understanding of the shortfalls of the previous three films, and insight on how to avoid them this time around. As a hardcore Star Wars fan, this is far more important to me than discovering that Leonardo DiCaprio could be a Jedi Master. That would be flipping cool though.

Last Updated: July 29, 2013

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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