The Blockade Runner

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Rebels Screenshot Spotlight – Legacy

“Legacy” is one of the most memorable and moving episodes of Rebels yet, and its final moments are among my favorite in the show’s entire run. As stories that are in some ways produced for kids, both Clone Wars and Rebels are unafraid to explore weighty, emotional material, a trend that continues in “Legacy,” an episode the show has been building toward from the start. It provides closure for Ezra’s search for this parents and further explores the meaning of family, a theme that has always been a focus for Rebels, while also proving brave enough to supply answers that are neither easy nor safe.

As a mid-season finale, this episode needs to feel more important than an average one; it needs to be a small conclusion, wrapping up at least some plot threads and perhaps sowing the seeds for future ones. “Legacy” does all of this, but I was also struck by how much of the show’s DNA was present in its final scene. Thematically, it addresses fathers and sons, teachers and students, hope and loss, light and dark, but it also acts as a concise summary of the show’s visual mission with its beautiful, McQuarrie-inspired landscapes and carefully composed shots.

IMG_0105I usually try to write about just one image from any given episode of Rebels, but the final scene in “Legacy” is an extended moment that works best when considered as a whole. Ezra’s vision of Lothal and his parents is composed of multiple shots, first of Ezra alone before his joined by his father first, then his mother. As day turns to night, Ezra is for a moment again alone before being joined by Kanan. The two shots I’ve chosen as the primary images for this post feature first Ezra and his father looking out over the familiar Lothal landscape and Ezra and Kanan sharing a similar moment as the moons set (a clear, but subtle nod to “Binary Sunset”). These shots, and those that make up the scene that links them, are a poignant and lyrical way of saying goodbye to the family Ezra has lost while acknowledging the one he’s now joined. They also immediately call to mind the Ralph McQuarrie art that is so influential to the design of Rebels. It’s a touching ending to this episode and the first half of season two as well as an example of the incredible art, design, and composition of the show.

IMG_0110I’m including a gallery of a few more individual shots I grabbed while prepping this post here too. Each of them is wonderful and would’ve been memorable enough to act as the primary image for the post, but viewed together I think they communicate most of the scene’s narrative and demonstrate how the Rebels team is staying true to George Lucas’s visual storytelling philosophy.

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Rebels Screenshot Spotlight – The Future of the Force

Rebels has been on a bit of a break for the past month or so, but I’d actually fallen behind on these Rebels Screenshot Spotlight posts a few weeks before the show’s brief hiatus started. With a new episode set to premiere in just a few days, I thought I’d better take the opportunity to weigh in on my favorite shots from the episodes I’d missed.

First up is “The Future of the Force.” The most compelling image in Rebels season two’s tenth episode features the show’s new villains the Seventh Sister and the Fifth Brother attacking the passengers of a dimly lit shuttle. The “Red Blades” (as the passengers refer to them) show up in the episode’s first scene to abduct a force-sensitive baby for unclear, but clearly nefarious, reasons.

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The shot I’ve pulled from this scene is comprised of the grandmother of baby Alora in the foreground with her back to the camera attempting to both sooth and protect her granddaughter. She’s looking down a corridor populated by a few fearful passengers but her gaze, like theirs, is on the approaching Inquisitors exiting an airlock bathed in red light. The camera is tilted at a Dutch angle which contributes to the sense of dread and tension permeating the shuttle. This scene is one of a number this season featuring these new Inquisitors that focuses on fear and borrows from the language of horror films to clearly communicate that these villains are dangerous, evil, and worthy of taking up the Grand Inquisitor’s role as the show’s chief antagonist(s). Writing, design, voice actors, and music are of course all part of successfully presenting these imposing characters, but I’ve found this kind of horror film framing to be an excellent contribution to their development as well.

I’m looking forward to posting in the next few days about a beautiful and moving moment in “Legacy,” one of my favorite episodes this season, and then getting back on schedule when Rebels returns with “A Princess on Lothal” on January 20th.


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The Blockade Runner Podcast Episode 5 – Rebels Trailer Reaction and TFA Editing Theories

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Show Notes:

Download this episode (right click and save)

Ryan, Dan, John, and first time Blockade Runner Lindsey get together to discuss the new Rebels trailer, Rey’s heritage and how much was originally set to be revealed about her in TFA, and more. Check out the links below for links to articles discussed on the show.

Links:

Intro and outro music in The Blockade Runner is “Hedonism” by Ash.

Email=theblockaderunnerpodcast@gmail.com

Twitter=@blockaderun

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Instagram=theblockaderunner


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Did The Force Awakens Originally Reveal Rey’s Heritage?

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Rey (Daisy Ridley) Ph: Film Frame © 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

Daisy Ridley’s Rey is an incredibly effective and likable hero and one that has made a huge impact on audiences. She is universally loved by the friends and family with whom I’ve discussed the film but there’s been quite a bit of debate surrounding where she comes from and to whom she’s related. This is clearly by design, but was it part of the original plan for The Force Awakens?

I avoided spoilers as much as possible in the lead up to TFA while still seeking out and devouring every possible article, interview, photo, and trailer I could in the months leading up to its release. One particularly memorable piece from that period is a November Hollywood Reporter interview with Ridley in which she discusses her audition process, training regiment, and the secrecy surrounding her character. After reading the interview, I was fully expecting to learn the truth regarding Rey’s heritage in Episode VII because of the following exchange:

In this age of social media everyone knows so much about movies before they see them.

And it takes away. I don’t want to dissect something before I see it. And things change. I don’t even know what it’s going to be like after editing.

Everyone wants to know who Rey’s parents are. Do you know?

Yeah.

Will the viewer know after the first episode or not necessarily?

Questions will be answered, absolutely. The main question will be answered.

Ridley’s answer clearly indicates that she believes the “main question” will be answered in The Force Awakens, but unless I missed something, that didn’t bear out. What’s more, she even references the editing process and the possibility of aspects of the film changing as it moves from the set to the editing bay to the theater.

I’ve now seen The Force Awakens seven times, and knowing the movie fairly well at this point it seems possible to me that perhaps Abrams, Kasdan, and Lucasfilm originally intended to provide more concrete details surrounding Rey’s heritage. There are conversations and interactions in the film that sometimes feel as if they end prematurely (such as Kylo Ren’s aggressively-delivered “WHAT GIRL?” as he force chokes Lieutenant Mitaka, or Han’s missing reply to Maz’s probing “who’s the girl?”) that may have originally played out in a different way. It also seems to me that if Rey is a Skywalker (and most of us are in agreement that she is), she spends an awful lot of time around Han, Leia, and Chewie with none of them acknowledging their connection to her. Episodes VIII and IX could obviously supply justifications for that lack of acknowledgment, but again, it seems possible this film was originally meant to do that until a decision was made later in the creative process to hold back the revelation of Rey’s heritage for a future film.

In my experience, no topic has been more hotly debated than Rey’s background. I’ve personally been involved in many, many conversations about that very subject and fans on every side of the argument point to specific lines and details in the film to support whichever theory they endorse. While I have to assume this was the filmmakers’ desired outcome, I’m now wondering if J.J. and crew made cuts late in the post-production process to delay revealing the answer to one of the TFA’s most important questions. With the Blu-ray release and its accompanying behind-the-scenes content likely arriving in April, we’ll undoubtedly learn more about the process of putting the movie together and perhaps we’ll find out more about how Rey’s character developed throughout the film’s production.

UPDATE: Collider released an article today featuring discussion of a deleted scene that seems like it would’ve revealed a cool aspect of Maz Kanata’s character before being left out in post-production. Perhaps another indication of an ongoing debate within Lucasfilm about how much to reveal in The Force Awakens?

 


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The Blockade Runner Podcast Episode 4.5 – More on The Force Awakens and the Future of Star Wars Films

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Show Notes:

Download this episode (right click and save)

In this episode of The Blockade Runner, Dan, Kevin, Chris, and John share more thoughts on The Force Awakens. We begin by checking in with Chris and his initial reactions to TFA since he wasn’t available for our last show. We also talk about our conflicted feelings regarding Star Wars movies without George Lucas’s involvement, our thoughts (and fears) about the anthology films, and just more general TFA discussion. We’ll be back soon with an episode about our TFA theories soon!

Intro and outro music in The Blockade Runner is “Hedonism” by Ash.

Email=theblockaderunnerpodcast@gmail.com

Twitter=@blockaderun

YouTube

Instagram=theblockaderunner


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Japanese Force Awakens Merchandise

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My good friend Kevin lives in Japan and was kind enough to take some pictures of Force Awakens promotional materials and merchandise he had come across!

First off, a clothing store called NewYorker released a catalog showcasing their new Star Wars-themed line of Fancy Adult Wear.

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It’s a pretty dang cool line; you can see more on their online store!

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