STAR WARS: The Force Awakens comes out next weekend, and in order to get prepared for the franchise reboot there are some films that influenced the franchise from the beginning that you should watch.
Of course, brushing up on the previous STAR WARS films wouldn’t hurt, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve seen them. But in order to get into the right frame of mind artistically, let’s look at some of the inspirations the filmmakers used that influenced STAR WARS.
FIVE Films To Prepare You For STAR WARS: The Force Awakens!
1. Blade Runner
Made in between Episode IV-VI and I-III, the Ridley Scott classic noirish sic-fi thriller is clearly a byproduct of Star Wars’ success & starred Harrison Ford! Although similar in ways to Star Wars, Blade Runner differs in it’s approach on a dystopian future (yes, technically Star Wars is meant to take place in the past in some alternate galaxy…). It shows the future (the year 2017 to be exact) as a dark, ruthless, technologically advanced hell, where some people are actually robots that kill.
Harrison Ford was hand-chosen for the leading role of Rick Deckard because of his performance
as Han Solo, but his character is nearly a polar opposite – dark & gloomy, much like the film itself. The films look & feel not only was influenced by Star Wars (as a darker vision of the future), but it in turn influenced Star Wars years later! There was a writers strike occurring at the studio just as production was meant to have begun on Blade Runner, and it gave them more time to design sets & art pieces that transformed into the beautifully dark dystopian city you see in the film. But years later, some of the architecture in Blade Runner had clearly influenced the look for Coruscant City in Attack Of The Clones.
Now while some might not see the connection, the international trailer for The Force Awakens has an obvious homage to this Francis Ford Coppola classic scene “Ride of the Valkyries”. An interesting rid bit is that George Lucas was once in line to direct the Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now, as he was friends with the script writer John Milius. As well, Harrison Ford was offered a part in the movie, but after Coppola took over, Ford & Lucas focused on a different war going on In A Galaxy Far, Far Away… If the trailer is any indication of the action we’ll see in STAR WARS: The Force Awakens, expect similar chaos as the afore mentioned.Apocalypse Now shows war at it’s grittiest in Vietnam and stood out because of it’s use of
practical effects, which J.J. Abrams has will be heavily used in The Force Awakens where they can (scenes that cannot in reality be performed practically are excluded of course). But the film is meant to show a galaxy that’s been through decades of war and lies in the ruins of one most know little about.
3. The Hidden Fortress
Don’t be put off that the film is Black & White, it’s a classic. It’s no secret that George Lucas pulled inspiration from Japanese films to create what we now know as STAR WARS. But what you might not know is that the design of characters & hierarchy of the Jedi’s & the Sith’s, the story & even the naming of “Jedi” come very loosely from Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress.
Akira Kurosawa was raised on American Westerns & it’s notable in his technique. All while George Lucas was raised on American cinema of the same manner, but a generation later. Although when Lucas made his way to Hollywood, his friend John Milius (who recommended him to direct Apocalypse Now), introduced him to Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, which lead to an infatuation with the director’s work, leading him to watch The Hidden Fortress. Which tells the story of two comically arguing peasants that escape an imperial army’s forces, to escort a princess & a general. Sound familiar yet?
4. The J.J. Abrams Collection – Super 8, Star Trek & Mission Impossible III
In order to properly get ready for J.J. Abrams style of directorial work, one must watch what he’s done and it’s a generally short list for someone who’s been put in charge of rebooting such an iconic sci-fi franchise – let alone two of them! J.J. Abrams is responsible for only a handful of directorial gems each valuable in their own way.
Yes, the eternal feud between Star Wars & Star Trek fans will continue forever, but it’s hard to disagree that what Abrams accomplished with Star Trek (2009), was miraculous – even if you’re more Wars than Trek… Not to mention that he was also entrusted to direct Mission Impossible III & continued on as producer for the following three instalments! Super 8 is a good film to get his more realistic touch with alien life, in case that’s what you’re looking for.
So if you want to brush up on your Abrams films, be sure to check out Super 8, Star Trek & Into Darkness and Mission Impossible III.
The final film on the list to watch before heading out to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens is Looper – a mix of time travel, sci-fi and futuristic powers will get you in the mood for the Star Wars universe. Best of all, the film’s director Rian Johnson is set to direct STAR WARS: Episode 8!
What are you watching before STAR WARS: The Force Awakens? Any thoughts on my Top 5 list? Which movies would you add to watch?
Comment below and let us know!
12/10/2015 – 11:15 pm