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The Theatrical Trailer – The First 24 Hours

Almost exactly eighteen months ago, Lucasfilm announced the reboot of the Star Wars Expanded Universe—or Legendsification, if you will. It happened on a Friday, and it was such a seismic moment for your humble nerds at Eleven-ThirtyEight that I wanted to document the days that followed as accurately as possible. The next Monday, we published Das Reboot – The First 48 Hours, a group piece that, unlike our average Not a Committee, I presented entirely in chronological order, timestamps and all—so readers could feel the sequence of emotions unfold in “real time”.

With Tuesdays being an off day, I thought it’d be fun to cover the first 24 hours after the new trailer the same way—but while the trailer technically went public at about 10pm Monday night, interest was so high that the Jedi Council Forums were down on and off for a couple hours (and then again Tuesday afternoon)! I eventually got a DM off to the gang, though, and below is what followed.

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12:14 AM – Mike: So, JFC, LOL, and TBH, that was a trailer. I’m not even going to try to be especially coherent right now, but there’s just so much to freak out about here: new character voices! A mountain range with a familiar-looking trench in it! Finn’s “oh shit” face when he sees Kylo’s lightsaber! Han and Leia being all tender and stuff! How are you guys feeling?

12:43 AM – Sarah: I currently feel like the equivalent of a million exclamation points. We didn’t even really get any new info but I am SO!!! JAZZED!!! UP!!! I was doing okay for the first half of the trailer (aka excited but not dying) and THEN we got that shot of the Falcon with that sweeping arrangement of “Han Solo and the Princess” and, well, that was it for me. I don’t even remember much of the rest of the trailer except REY DOING AWESOME THINGS AND BEING AT THE FOREFRONT and then THAT SHOT of Han and Leia (where I definitely shouted some inappropriate words, sorry mom) and then I had to go lie down and recover. And then of course I took to Twitter and Tumblr to screech my appreciation in all caps. I’m still on an adrenaline high and it’s been almost three hours.

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12:59 AM – Jay: Right so — I’ve recovered some semblance of coherence, though I’m liable to break down into a quivering mess of feels just by hitting play and hearing that grand remixed version of the Force Theme or Han and Leia’s theme. In fact, I only saw the trailer a single time for almost the first two hours because I was just not emotionally prepared to process all of the excitement and everything that I had seen. I was actually shaking with excitement, which is pretty new to me (I’ve been known to jump for joy with brief moments of giddy excitement, who hasn’t, but this was altogether different). My view count is now at four — which is still dismally low — but I’ve hit critical emotional mass and I am ready to play this thing on repeat. I’ve even got the thing downloaded to my phone for viewing whenever I please tomorrow.

So as for what I actually saw — Rey spelunking in an SSD was pretty awesome. Music and tone reminded me of the BTS video. Hearing the voices — what sounds like Maz and Rey (maybe?), then Finn, then Kylo — was great, a little introduction to each character. It was neat seeing the Imperial-style bridge again, with what looked like female officers — but then, but THEN. As Sarah said, the shot of the Falcon flying around with that grand take of the Han and Leia theme — that was it. That was the moment. And it just went on from there to a triumphant take on the Force Theme and mentions of the Force and Jedi being real and X-wings and TIEs and HAN AND LEIA EMBRACING. That’s what wrecked me for the next two hours.

Basically we have the opening with interesting characters and visuals, that stark look at the SSD and Rey, Finn’s (I think?) TIE careening away from the Finalizer (which looks kind of cool from underneath), that bridge and the Vader plinth again. But then there come all the feels and that, ladies and gentlemen, is Star Wars.

And I don’t think my adrenaline rush is going to let me sleep either. Now let’s hope this message even gets through, because the TFN boards we’re coordinating on have been down all night… as one might expect.

7:30 AM – Alexander: I wish I could be so excited about the trailer. It fulfilled its intended purpose, I think, and the biggest thing I took away from it is that the events of the original trilogy, Jedi and Sith included, seem not to be widely known, which may hint at a distinct lack of a New Jedi Order and a significant departure from how things were in the old Expanded Universe.

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9:18 AM – Ben W: It was a trailer that did what it was meant to do: excite the audience and get them ready for the new film. I wasn’t as excited simply because there wasn’t as much of a “oh shit” moment like there was in the first two little teasers (seeing the Falcon again, and seeing Han respectively). Han and Leia embracing was close, but not quite there for me. It wasn’t like I didn’t enjoy it, I did, it just didn’t hit me as hard as it apparently hit other people.

I did enjoy the looks at the space action and effects that they’ve got going, the film looks visually terrific in almost every respect. And seeing all of the cast doing more, seeing bits of their characters come through instead of just getting snapshots, was great. And of course the music was outstanding. When John Williams gets to play around with his own music, take a bit here and add it there, mix two or three themes together into something new, it almost always turns out well.

Another great thing: we learned nothing about the plot. The trailer showed us a lot of different parts of the film, but didn’t actually tell us anything except for similar vague hints to what we’ve already gotten. We know Finn was a stormtrooper. We know that Rey is a scavenger. We know that Kylo Ren is obsessed with Vader’s legacy. And we got a few more hints dropped about other things, the state of the galaxy and whatever else is going on. But nothing concrete, nothing to truly spoil the film.

The thing that gets me is what we’re not being shown yet. We still haven’t seen General Hux, Captain Phasma was mostly MIA, Maz Kanata is heard (maybe) but not seen, and of course the elephant in the room: Luke Skywalker, who was only in a shot that was repeated from the second teaser. There’s still so much that is going to be in this movie that is only teased and hinted at, so much more that has yet to unravel. It’s certainly going to be a long wait until December.

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9:30 AM – Mike: To Alexander’s point, it’s absolutely a significant departure—but I’m not convinced yet that there’s no Jedi Order at all. I guess we’ll see.

Maybe I’m just overconfident, but the more I think about it the more I think the trailer actually does tell us about the story; Kylo wants to finish what Vader started? If it were Palpatine he could just mean enslaving the galaxy or whatever, but the only thing Vader “started” was the elimination of the Jedi—Kylo’s looking for Luke. That may even have been an actual rumor at some point, I’m not totally sure, but it seems clear now.

In the extended preview version of that Resistance landing field shot, you can see clearly that while almost everyone is getting ready for battle, Poe is just getting there (or at least just getting out of his X-wing). Finn looks settled in, though, so did he and Rey beat him back to the base? And considering the coming battle, did the First Order follow Poe there like the Death Star did the Falcon?

And then there’s the voiceover, which I’m sorry—it’s very clearly Lupita N’yongo, not Leia. The exchange with Rey early on seems like a red herring to me; when she says “the Force is calling to you, just let it in”, that sounds like the kind of thing you say to someone while handing them a lightsaber. And who have we seen Maz handing a lightsaber to? Just saying.

10:35 AM – David: If I’m not wrong, I’m the only member of the ETE family who’s been completely spoiled since day one, so my perception of the trailer is probably considerably different from theirs. This trailer doesn’t reveal anything about the plot of the movie, actually, but I’m okay with the main drive being an unknown. Still, seeing scenes that I only knew as short descriptions come to life was extremely satisfying*, perhaps akin to seeing a novel you love being faithfully adapted to film. What was just rumor and supposition has become real, physical, and it’s better than we could have imagined; for all the times I imagined Rey salvaging the crashed Star Destroyer and wishing she could be away from her hard life in Jakku, what is on the screen is even better. And the few details we didn’t know are just the cherry on top: nothing could have prepared me for the emotional punch of Han Solo being the one to tell the new generation that Jedi and the Force are for real. I’m more pumped up for this movie than ever. Midnight premiere, here we go!

*Seeing red herrings, misdirection and some really smart editing was also very fun, not going to lie.

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11:55 AM – Sarah: Now that I’ve had some time to sleep on it, I think I have some more coherent thoughts. I REALLY love that Han, he of the “hokey religions and ancient weapons are not match for a good blaster at your side” cynicism, is the one apparently explaining the Force to Finn and Rey. I’m curious, though, if the Jedi/Sith and the Force are indeed not common knowledge around the galaxy then what happened that the Jedi Order wasn’t rebuilt? Or perhaps Finn doesn’t know much about them (being an Imperial/First Order trooper and all) and Han is explaining for his benefit? Who knows.

That orchestration of Han and Leia’s theme still makes me feel some kind of way. And it playing while Rey and Han are on the Falcon together? PLEASE let this point to Rey being an Organa-Solo and not me just overanalyzing things.

Speaking of Rey…it really looks like this is going to be HER movie and I can’t tell you how excited I am to have a female lead in a Star Wars movie. The closest we came to that was Padmé in The Phantom Menace but there were so many strong secondary characters in that movie that it’s difficult to really pick a main character. But Rey’s been at the forefront of all the marketing so far and at the very least it looks like they’re setting up her and Finn to be co-leads, which is just awesome.

Other miscellaneous thoughts: Kylo is definitely not wearing his helmet in the scene where he and Finn appear about to have a lightsaber duel. I totally bet that building with all the flags is Maz Kanata’s pirate castle (and as several on Twitter pointed out, two of the flags appear to have symbols for the Mandalorians and for Boba Fett). HAN AND LEIA HUGGING. X-wing dogfights! Rey spelunking through a Star Destroyer! We still didn’t get a good shot of Luke but I’ve made my peace with the fact that we won’t get to see him until the actual movie.

The editing makes it sound like Maz/Lupita is talking to Rey (or Finn) about letting the Force in, but I agree with Coop in that I think it’s actually her talking to Leia (perhaps in the same scene from the second teaser where we see maybe!Leia get handed a lightsaber by maybe!Maz). I always wondered how Leia would reconcile her Jedi heritage, considering a lot of it would no doubt remind her of Vader (especially if she’s given Anakin’s saber in the second teaser). I could see her not wanting to go full Jedi.

Finally I still keep laughing at the part where Kylo has Vader’s ruined mask on a pedestal and promises to “finish what [he] started.” My “Kylo Ren is a whiny obnoxious Sith fanboy who has no idea what he’s getting into” theory lives on.

Overall, I think it was a great trailer. We still don’t have the slightest inkling of the plot but there was enough new material to get everyone excited and definitely a lot more questions raised which should hopefully keep us busy speculating for the next two months. And good god this movie looks beautiful. The shot of the Falcon in hyperspace? Might be the best thing I’ve seen since the opening of A New Hope.

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1:13 PM – Rocky: Okay, I’m finally here with coherent thoughts!

It feels like a 21st-century reimagining of the universe I know and love. Like, when I started to tune back in to Star Wars seriously with Aftermath, I’ve often called that book the spiritual successor to old Bantam. And this feels like a modern version of the old movies that we love. The themes, the use of music, got me so much in the start. Of course I was bawling by the time we hear Han and Leia’s theme. The look of the whole thing! Yes, these are modern special effects, but the way a TIE fighter moves when it’s hit and spinning out of control. Seeing the Falcon do the same kinds of turns and twisting on its side and all the aerial acrobatics. The Resistance forces running around like chickens with their heads cut off. The look of the Falcon‘s inside.

I love feeling like I’m home. This is the universe I know and love that kind of wandered away from its roots at times, but it’s back where it belongs.

We still don’t have a ton of plot in there, and I’m actually quite okay with that. I’m of course going to join in the speculation about Kylo Ren being a Sith fanboy who doesn’t actually know what he’s playing with. I definitely am in the Rey Solo camp. But we have no idea what the plot is, and to me that’s fine. I’ve argued before in defense of the unknown, and considering that we’re jumping thirty years into the future with very little idea of what happened in the meantime, it would probably be useless to actually give us plot details. We don’t know what the galaxy is doing politically, even if we can tell that the Empire’s demise was a bit faster than what we read in Legends.

I’m also definitely fine with the Jedi being something of a legend. Just think of the number of times Luke almost failed at restoring the Jedi in Legends. So many students who turned away, dark side incursions, Luke actually not knowing what he was doing at all, so little information available… it actually works to embrace that and let the Jedi be not very well known. There will be a whole population of Force-sensitive people out there in the galaxy, ripe for ending up either future Jedi or future darksiders/Sith fanboys. The open space, the unknown, the idea that the galaxy doesn’t have to be well-restored is a good thing. For one, it’s going to make for some cool storytelling, and for another, at some point we’re going to have to find hermit!Luke and figure out why the Jedi aren’t a big force in the galaxy. I’m definitely excited for that.

So basically, now that I’ve stopped screaming all over the internet about Star Wars and am making mostly coherent comments, I am so ready for this. Chewie, I’m home.

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3:07 PM – Ben C: Damn the boards are slow, was there a new trailer or something? Oh there was, well then… I really liked it. It showed what it needed to yet didn’t reveal its hand and that’s rare these days.

As to the notion of the Jedi and Sith having become legends, along with the civil war – that may be the masterstroke of this new trilogy. People will say but it is only thirty years, but thirty years ago? I was a lot younger than I am now. And, in the tradition of Hollywood’s gravelly voiceover guys:

It was a world where mobiles were the size of bricks. There was no internet. There were two titanic adversaries fighting to rule the world, possessing weapons to blow it up several times over. No one expected it to end peacefully… but it did.

Thirty years on and, despite it being the lever and creator of today’s world, for many it’s been forgotten. Describing its actual state of play, never mind how it actually ended up playing out sounds incredible, too incredible. And so it is with the events of the OT – it is incredible that someone actually flew into a half-built moon-sized battle station, nuked the reactor and flew out before it blew! No one’s that nuts!

At the same time, it is known that horrific figures like Stalin become mythologized decades after their death in the popular perception. That this has happened with Vader is another smart move.

The rest of the trailer is a set of well put together effects, with just the right mix of action and quiet – the shot of Rey and BB-8 walking off in the desert is a case in point. That droid is going to sell a lot of plush toys! Then there are the dogfights and spaceship sequences – what might you do with today’s VFX technology and Star Wars? This trailer gives you a few seconds’ worth of an answer and it’s brilliant.

Finally, that shot of Han and Leia hugging? So very needed, because no one would have wanted that to have gone wrong. Though, for myself, I’d like Rey not to be linked to any of the main three by blood. Blood’s overrated, just expand the SW ‘family’ Fast & Furious style instead!

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7:09 PM – Mike: So it’s been almost a full day—now that the initial euphoria has (kind of) worn off, has anyone evolved at all from their initial reactions? For whatever reason I keep going back to that hyperspace shot—it was my favorite right away, but even now something about it just encapsulates the appeal of the film for me; it’s the same Star Wars I’ve always known, just from an angle I’ve never considered.

7:42 PM – Jay: The more I watch it the more I love it? I mean, I can say that I have some detached perspective now but frankly it’s still pretty exciting to hear the swell of that music. Perhaps I have a little “watch out, it’s Kylo Ren!” reaction when I hear his dorky deep voice but I can’t help but feel that’s actually intentional.

Maybe that’s the thing. Appearances were deceiving about Kylo, and many of us — I include myself here — liked him a lot better when we learned he was a Vader fanboy and not a new Sith or Sith analogue. We’re all pretty sure that appearances are deceiving regarding Rey too, though that could cut either way: she could be a Solo(Organa)-Skywalker or a brand new everywoman. I’m hoping for the former, but again — as we’re talking about with Maz’s narration, appearances are deceiving. I’m still convinced that she’s a Solo, that she’s Force-sensitive (not Finn), and that she’s mirroring Kylo.

But who knows? I care a lot about the political situation in the galaxy, and a lot of folks have assumed this trailer demonstrates the New Republic failed. I don’t know how we see anything of the sort. Perhaps the Jedi just aren’t familiar to these two isolated characters — perhaps they are truly vanished — that doesn’t mean the heroes haven’t won. In fact, they look considerably less scruffy than the Rebel Alliance. The First Order aren’t the only folks with slick uniforms here.

We’re getting a carefully curated selection of the familiar and the new, and I think it’s designed to play on our expectations. I wouldn’t make any assumptions, aside from that this movie is going to be awesome because as I mentioned I’m 100% all-in for it.

7:56 PM – David: I’m feeling strangely wowed by the holographic planetary display in the Falcon. There’s something about it that makes me happy.

Other than that, I’ve seen the opening scene over and over. The sand pouring through the well-known pits in the Star Destroyer hangar is a powerful image.

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