By Matthew McKibben | July 7, 2014
Slash.com has a good write up on a recent Q&A Kevin Smith gave at the Neuchatel International Film Festival in Switzerland. As he has proven to be with Batman v Superman, Kevin Smith is the guy to know if you’re into what’s going on behind the scenes of some of the bigger pop properties out there. Can someone get this man to the set of Avengers 2? While at the Q&A, someone asked him what it was like visiting the set of Star Wars Episode VII and about that now famous picture of Kevin Smith crying tears of joy.
The money quotes are below in block quotes, or you can watch the video starting at the 35:00 minute mark. My commentary is below that.
What I saw, I absolutely loved. It was tactile — it was real. It wasn’t a series of fucking green screens and blue screens in which later a bunch of digital characters would be added. It was there, it was happening. I saw old friends who I haven’t seen since my childhood, who aren’t really friends, but I love them more than some of my fucking relatives. I saw uniforms, I saw artillery I haven’t seen since I was a kid. I saw them shooting an actual sequence in a set that was real. I walked across the set, there were explosions. And it looked like a shot right out of a Star Wars movie.
He turns the lights on and there is the Millennium Falcon from my childhood. Now the ship outside looks like a movie set, but the inside, fully replicated, fully built. The guy told me, they took two blueprints: Star Wars and Empire, because the cockpit in Empire was bigger than the cockpit in Star Wars. So they went somewhere between the two. So he takes me over and I’m just looking at it. You look at it from the outside and you can still see inside. I don’t presume we’re going aboard or anything, and then Morgan (JJ’s assistant) says “You ready to go up?” I said (excitedly) “We can go on it?!”
As I walked up that ramp I realized that the something that was missing from those other movies (the prequels) and its now in these movies. And its not the obvious like hey the Millennium Falcon or hey the characters that we know are returning. Its something else entirely — he’s building a tactile world, a world you can touch. And hes replicating with all the love of someone who has the world’s greatest collection of Star Wars figures. And when you walk on that set man, I don’t know how else to describe it except thusly: you use another pop culture reference to describe this pop culture phenomenon. Its like the field of dreams, the Kevin Costner movie. And if JJ builds it, we’re all going to come hard, because its amazing. It looks fantastic. So anyone out there wondering if hes going to pull it off, hes pulling it off. He showed me cut scenes, he showed me sequences, images, pictures. I cried and I hugged that guy. And I’m sure as I was crying and hugging on him that he was thinking “time is money” because theyre making a movie. But he got it. He was very flattered. And I was like “Honestly dude, you’re doing it. You’re making my childhood again. You’re doing our Star Wars. What I saw, blew me away.
Part of this, no doubt, is typical Kevin Smith bluster. While he’s seen scenes and the cast in action, very few people know exactly what this movie has in store for us. But… From the time I can remember being conscious of movies, it’s been all about Star Wars. I’ve seen each of the movies countless numbers of time. Star Wars was the one property that I went beyond the movies with, devouring everything from the occasional comic books to many of the Expanded Universe books.
But like a lot of people my age, that love hit a brick wall with the Lucas prequel trilogy. I don’t know if I kidded myself into liking those movies then, or if my more cynical side since has taken over my more carefree side, but I do not look back on the prequel trilogy movies with any semblance of love and adoration at this point. They each have their moments and I think the Revenge of the Sith at least approaches the quality set by the original movies, but I consider them now to be huge misses. Maybe that’s underselling it to some degree, because I think it’s to the point now that the Star Wars movies are things that have officially been jettisoned from my brain. Whereas “the saga” used to dominate my fandom, I’ve worked through my anger at the movies and now hardly think of them or feel compelled to watch them any more. When I heard they were making these movies and that JJ Abrams would be directing them (and that the House of Mouse had purchased the rights to make them from George Lucas), I was excited, sure, but no more excited for these than any other movie that I read about online.
So while there is a bit of bluster attached to Kevin Smith’s comments above, I have to say that hearing him speak so fondly about what he saw has begun to chip away at the cynical block of granite protecting me from any more Star Wars pain (you’ll have to excuse the geek hyperbole). We live in a world where The Matrix, Hobbits, people in capes, Harry Potter, and even Bruckheimer-produced pirate movies not only filled the pop culture void left open by lackluster Star Wars movies, but did so in ways that have made many of us forget about, not just the prequels, but Star Wars altogether. What makes any of this Kevin Smith stuff newsworthy to me is the idea that there’s a real thirst and want (perhaps unspoken or intellectualized) for Abrams and company to get these movies right. And I don’t mean just to make serviceable, fun movies, but movies that hit you right in your solar plexus. The prequel movies were box office smashes because our collective nostalgia made them so. I want these movies to be box office smashes because they’re the best freaking movies ever. We’re in a place where because we’ve kind of forgotten how special the original movies were and how far a property could fall with the prequels, it’s kind of cool to think that there’s a guy out there making these movies in a way that will catch us off guard and be of a quality that we’re all hoping to see.