Among other things, including Saturday afternoon serials, the influence of the films of Akira Kurosawa (particularly “The Hidden Fortress“) and John Ford on George Lucas‘ “Star Wars” saga is well established. And it looks like in preparing for his own venture to a galaxy far, far away, director J.J. Abrams looked up some of the very same kinds of pictures that inspired Lucas those many decades ago.
In the latest print edition of Empire (via Star Wars News Net), the director reveals the heavyweight filmmakers whose worked he watched as he started on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Here’s the excerpt from the magazine:
Before he started The Force Awakens, Abrams watched some movies. No, not those ones, Other ones. He looked at “the confidence” of John Ford Westerns. He took in the “unbelievable scene choreography and composition” of Kurosawa’s High and Low. And he studied “the powerful stillness” of Terrence Malick. “It’s not something I would normally have thought of coming to Star Wars,” he says. The spare visual style of Ford, Kurosawa and Malick points to a key mandate for Abrams’ approach to Episode VII: the distinctive less-is-more quality of the originals.
We’ll see how that plays out in practice, but it should be said the trailers do have their moments of beauty between the expected teases of big action sequences. And if this only ends up meaning that Abrams’ approach is more measured in the use of CGI than Lucas’ prequels, that will be enough.
Enjoy Thanksgiving weekend, and instead of re-watching those original “Star Wars” movies again, maybe put films by Malick, Ford, and Kurosawa in your queue instead.