Have a very merry Star Wars Christmas from Movies4Kids!

star-wars-christmas

So have you watched all three Nativity! movies to get you in that Yuletide mood (…of mild amusement and feelings of goodwill, followed by crushing disappointment and the need for alcohol)? Argued with the relatives over which is the best Christmas film ever? (It’s Die Hard, obviously). Since Movies4Kids have recommended Christmas movies in the past – including some alternative ones for grown-ups to watch once the kids have gone to bed – this year I thought I’d do something different and share the best Christmas present ever with you. (If you want a traditional list of family Christmas movies, click HERE)

 

On a warm and wet day last week when everyone else was storming the shops for pre-Christmas bargains, I was sat in a London hotel with the writer, director and cast of a certain new science fiction movie that’s proving to be quite popular. Yes, my Christmas wish since I saw Star Wars as an eight year old was to meet Han Solo and Princess Leia, and this year it finally came true. And despite being a hardened and cynical film critic with a few decades experience, there was still something very, very cool and a bit fan-girly about sitting in a room with two people I once had action figures of.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens European Press Conference

LONDON, UK – DECEMBER 17: John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie, Carrie Fisher, JJ Abrams, Daisy Ridley, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o and Lawrence Kasdan attend the press conference for the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens in London on December 17, 2015. Credit : James Gillham / StingMedia.co.uk

 

Joining Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher last week were the new actors joining the Star Wars universe for The Force Awakens – Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren, Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz), and John Boyega (Finn) and the movie’s director and writer, JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (who also wrote the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens European Press Conference

Both Abrams and Kasdan are clearly pleased that the movie they have been working on for a long time is finally in cinemas for fans to enjoy. “It’s an enormous relief that the movie has opened,” says Abrams with a smile. “It’s been a few years of intense work with thousands of people. In the film you watch the credits and see all those names of people who worked on the film. These are people who lost sleep and didn’t see their families. People can finally see what an extraordinary job they did.”

 

Kasdan agrees. “I have been writing and directing movies for a long time. When it actually gets made and cut and edited and it is so close to what you initially dreamed, what JJ and I talked about from the first day onward and you sit in the movie theatre and feel all the people around you getting that same excitement, you think ‘this is a miracle that we’ve made this long journey and it has come out so close to what the original idea was.’”

 

One of the reasons people are loving The Force Awakens so much is that it feels much more of a ‘Star Wars’ movie than the three technology-heavy prequels (the much-derided Episodes I, II and III), and a lot of this is down to Abrams’ decision to mix new technology with more traditional models and puppets. “The feeling I felt when I first saw [the original] Star Wars was this incredible sense of it being real, it felt material, tangible and physical,” he continues. “A lot of recent films, because of the incredible technology that exists, have rightfully relied on that technology and I have as well, you do things because you can.”

 

“Simon Pegg’s very young daughter had seen the prequels and loved them and then she saw Episodes IV, V and VI and saw Yoda [as a puppet], and she said to her father Simon ‘look Daddy, Yoda’s real’. I think it was that there is just something about the physicality of actually having this thing perform for the camera. In this movie we were doing this one large scene with all these creatures physically on set and I remember thinking ‘this is what it must be like to make a Muppet movie’. I know that has nothing to do with story or character or plot, but there was something about the physicality of the old school approach that felt Star Warsy to me.”

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens European Press Conference

Certainly the actors who had appeared in previous Star Wars movies appreciated JJ Abrams approach to the new film. “JJ was great to work with,” says Carrie Fisher. “George Lucas [when he directed Star Wars: A New Hope] was wonderful but he never spoke, really, aside from occasionally saying ‘faster’ or ‘more intense’. But he [JJ] talks a lot and it is really good stuff he says, and he brought a lot of energy to this film.”

 

“It helps a lot to have somebody on board that gives as much as JJ gives to the direction of the movie and the engineering of this monster,” adds Harrison Ford. “I have relished this entire experience in a way I had not anticipated, and a lot of credit for that goes to JJ and Larry. This is a great experience in my old life and I am very grateful for it.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens European Press Conference

The newer cast members are visibly thrilled to be part of the Star Wars world, too, even if the hugeness of the movie is sometimes very strange. “It’s all weird for me,” laughs John Boyega. “We recently went to Tokyo and at a supermarket I saw Daisy’s face and then my face and then BB-8 [the droid] and I thought, ‘I’m in Japan, have never been here before, and to see my image and Daisy’s, especially as two Londoners, it was a very proud moment.”

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens European Press Conference

 

“When I was working in a pub a couple of years ago,” Daisy Ridley adds, “I used to watch buses go past with movie posters on them and think ‘wow, that would be really cool’. So I said to John, I’m most excited about seeing myself on the side of a bus!”

 

“The oddest thing I have encountered,” says Carrie Fisher, “is a shampoo bottle of me, where you can twist off your own head. And I have been told there is a marijuana strain called Princess Leia…”

 

It’s clear Fisher brought many of the laughs to the set (her advice to Daisy Ridley: “Don’t got through the crew like wildfire…”), Abrams and the younger cast the enthusiasm, and Ford the gravitas. “There was such an energy on set [from the returning cast members],” remembers Adam Driver, “even though they had been in the original trilogy, I didn’t get a sense of ‘oh, they’ve been there, done that.’ There was still the ambition to get it right, knowing these characters so well but still trying to make it deeper and more resonant, and that’s very inspiring.”

 

Perhaps one of the reasons The Force Awakens works so well is that the set was populated by actors who love the movies and a director who admits he is a fan. “When I was a kid and saw it {A New Hope} at age 10, the whole idea that we’re all connected [like the Force] was actually happening in the theatre. I was with hundreds of people, screaming at the same time, laughing at the same time, and there is something incredible about that experience. Star Wars is a phenomenon and it is a wonderful and rare opportunity for people to come together for something that is so uplifting.”

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in cinemas now, and you can read the Movies4Kids review HERE.

 

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One response to “Have a very merry Star Wars Christmas from Movies4Kids!

  1. Pingback: RIP Carrie Fisher | Movies4Kids

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