Here comes August and the dog days of Summer and with that, our first Rogue One: A Star Wars Story tv spot. With just four and half months to go, the marketing for this film is about to get out of second gear with some momentum behind it. The new tv spot does not contain any new imagery or dialogue since the original Rogue One teaser trailer aired back in early April. However, this new tv spot marks an important milestone for the project and adds a little gas to the forward movement that has been built up over the last two weeks. With Lucasfilm recently showing off an exclusive BTS reel, the official poster, and costumes at Star Wars Celebration Europe and San Diego Comic Con conventions, the kick off for this film has begun.
Science fiction conventions always provide a cornucopia of new information about the movies, novels, and the merchandise we love. From the joys of making new friends, buying the merchandise we can’t wait to get our hands on, to meeting those amazing artists that create the stories we enjoy so much. That information is presented to feed expectations and have the herds of nerds feel somewhat sated in the coming months before a big release. That information is prepared, cooked and crafted to push product for a hungry consumer, but sometimes, during those intimate moments during panel discussions, a delightful nugget of knowledge springs out of the air and makes the convention all the more special. At the recent Star Wars Celebration Europe Convention we got one of those great moments.
At the Future Filmmakers panel hosted by Lucasfilm Executive Pablo Hildago, Director Rian Johnson mentioned six films that were his inspiration for Star Wars: Episode VIII. These six films became his muse for writing and directing the next chapter of our saga. The grand cinematic masterpieces were so important to the Director, that he encouraged the production staff from Episode VIII to view them before shooting began. The movies, Twelve O’Clock High (1949), 2. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Three Outlaw Samurai (1964), 4. Letter Never Sent (1960), Gunga Din (1939), Sahara (1943) was shot out like a canon in front of the packed audience in London.[pp_gallery gallery_id=”7136″ width=”150″ height=”238″]
One of the great joys of running this Star Wars news blog is learning new things and surrounding myself in the unfamiliar. I never imagined that I would be critiquing films, animation and novels for a respectable readership one day. I am a novice in this new world and I don’t pretend to be otherwise, but what I do have, is a real desire to immerse myself in the study of storytelling. Not only in it’s business and mechanics but in it’s different styles of prose and the techniques used to illicit feelings from the audience. My aim is to learn and drown myself in the lessons of story telling to be a better viewer and listener. I want to dive into the deep end of the pool and learn from the masters who craft the stories we care about. I took Rian Johnson’s declaration of these half dozen films as a worthy and delightful challenge. If Rian Johnson and the Production staff of Star Wars: Episode VIII can take the time to absorb themselves in these classic films in the hopes of forging a better story, then I, as a novice blogger should do the same. A worthwhile pursuit, even if only to appreciate his work more. Besides it sounds like a huge heap of fun. So we few here at the Post will take up the challenge , viewing and writing about these films in a six-piece feature that will find threads of possible commonality with Star Wars: Episode VIII.
These features will discuss how these classic motion pictures made us feel and think. More importantly how they may lend a thematic hand to the tone and style of the next chapter in our saga. We will also include some spoilers in these features to try to tie in what we know and how it might relate to these classics. We work hard everyday here at the Post to be better for our readers and just maybe with this challenge, we can improve even more. I encourage all of you to participate in Rian’s dare and watch these films for yourself and join us on this journey. First up in this challenge is 12 O’Clock High, staring Gregory Peck, a great film this is currently available on Netflix.
12 O’Clock High
*Minor Star Wars: Episode VIII Speculation at the end.
With the toddler tyrants fed, bathed and in bed, I fired up the Apple TV and set myself down with Netflix to watch 12’ O’Clock High” staring Gregory Peck. The film takes place during those critical early war years when American B-17 bomber crews were flying out of England to conduct day time bombing raids in the occupied areas of France and eventually Germany. During those critical early years, the American bomber crews were few and their task incredibly large.With little to no fighter air escort and in the clear daylight skies above Europe, the toll on those young men were for a better word, horrific. The odds of surviving a tour in those days for the Bomber crews of the 8th Airforce was 51%. A staggering percentage and one the highest for the war. To add monumental insult to injury, the exhausted crews would be asked to go out and do it time and time again with that percentage looming over their spirits. In 12 O’Clock High, a particular theme arises up front and in your face, the concept of “Maximum Effort” or how far can an airman go before he is mentally and physical incapable of completing the mission. Like some ridiculous warped version of mental chicken where you joust against the mental stability and human spirit of a person. Something that would almost certainly lead to extreme battle fatigue or even in the worst case PTSD.
Although there have been many years put in between the films release in 1964 to WW2, the subject of “shell shock” or “battle fatigue” was still very much kept in the shadows. Even in 1964 the idea of battle fatigue was still seen by a sizable percentage of Americans as being “Yellow” or a cowardice. However, with ground breaking films such as 12 O’clock High and the actions of brave heroes at home educating the populace about the horror and effects of war on the human spirit, the tide began to change. This would be further compounded with the start of the Vietnam war and the wave of soldiers coming home with PTSD. The awareness of “Maximum Effort” would be all to apparent in the skies about Europe in WW2, with these brave kids and Death pulling on their parachute straps. A drama that would pave the way for a dramatic head on fight between that maximum effort and the human spirit that only celluloid could capture.
With engines roaring and the crews morale in the gutter, Gregory Peck, playing Brigadier General Frank Savage is assigned to get this group of Airmen back into working order. General Savage is a wonderfully molded character encapsulated in calm bravado and self respect. A mold filled from the incredible presence that emanates on screen from Gregory Peck. Like throwing on a flight suit and jacket, this Hollywood icon wears this studly confidence easily and deliberately. This picture perfect, Man’s Man, the template for which we all strive for, explodes the idea that even the toughest, most dedicated and courageous sort has a maximum effort.
Instantly, General Savage get’s to work on his new bomber crews with tough love and resiliency in the belief that every person must contribute their best. Not only for the betterment of the bomber wing but for themselves. General Savage believes down to his core, that hard discipline and the expectation of excellence is the baseline from where to start from. There is also this incredible love and care he has for his men. A dedication that is apparent only to the viewer as the General’s deliberate actions to keep it hidden from his men. All that love and concern hidden behind the door of his quarters or in a swig of scotch. The mission must come first and the care of the men second which led to the General getting this assignment. Frank Savage was picked for this role, replacing the existing X.O., a man that cared more about the men and less about what was necessary for the mission. When the battle group leaves late and not in perfect sync, the flight group gets separated with huge gaps that allow them to picked off by the Luftwaffe. General Savage makes the decision to relieve his friend, Colonel Davenport and stick him behind a desk at bomber command. He then takes over the 8th Airforce bomber wing to the dismay of the crews who were near and dear to their former Commander at base Archubury.
The crews, battered and war weary at this point find themselves as guinea pigs being sent to slaughter. They feel they have no real effect on the war and revolt by putting in for transfers. This new Gung Ho General is not what they want and the loss of their former Commander, sends them over the edge. This action further compounds Peck in his determination to have these boys grow into men. A challenge that now has a nine week deadline before those transfers go through. With the Germans, bad morale and now the clock against him, Savage goes to work, leading from the front to show his crews what they can achieve. From revisiting the fundamentals to even segregating and humiliating those who under perform to the “Lepper Colony”, a special designated B-17 Captained by Commander Gaitley. A character with a prominent family and career who failed at his duties in not supporting his former C.O. .If a crewman messes up he gets assigned to the dog house with wings and under Gaitley’s command.
After numerous sorties, the men start to believe in their new General and stake their achievements on a few missions where they stayed to deliver the payload when others crews were called back. They found their B-17’s coming home in larger numbers and with us viewers counting along when they begin circling the airstrips to land. You can’t help but count along with the air tower as the bombers fit into each glorious 4:3 black and white frame. Every time hoping to count the complete wing of 21 planes. The great theme that runs thick in this film is the constant despair the feeling that all hope is lost. This nagging, sagging feeling that is there, just underneath the covers. That lost hope is very real in 1944 with the enormity of the mission and the cost it would take to get there. Almost assuredly what General Leia Organa must feel and those of the Resistance with the resurgence of the First Order. With scarce individuals and material, old equipment and ships that have seen better days, the Resistance in our Galaxy Far, Far Away is not much different than our forces in the early years of World War II. The mission looks daunting and almost hopeless, except for those who truly believe that he war must be won.
After numerous sorties and the intense three day raid on a German ball bearing factory, we finally get to see our tall, dark and handsome superman in Gregory Peck falter and succumb to “Maximum Effort”. I love the way Director Darryl Zanuck conducts this scene, it’s power comes in its sudden simplicity. Here we witness General Savage, after conducting two of the three missions as the flight leader is ever more confident, laughing and chock full of bravado. He is delighted and convinced this third mission will seal the deal on the German ball bearing plant and put a real hurt on Nazi forces. As the B-17’s are que’ed up along the runway and taxi way, he finishes off his cigarette, jumps out of his jeep, pulls the hatch down to hoist himself into his loud and gorgeous B-17 the Piccadilly Lily. An physical act where the pilot throws up his flight sack then raises his arms, crabs hold of the frame, hoists his legs then torso into the belly of the beast. Akin to doing a half pull up and letting your legs do the rest. However something happens here suddenly that isn’t expected. He has difficulty hoisting his bag, which falls to the tarmac, then General Savage tries again finding success. He raises his arms to grab hold to the frame, with the cacophony of engines filling your ears to remind you, the viewer, that planes are waiting to leave and that time is running out. A loud consistent drowning that brings on the anxiety and as a bonus, will wake up your two year old and upset the wife. General Savage with time now bearing down on him to get on with it, sees his hands trembling and cannot summon the effort to lift himself up. His arms gives way and no longer follow instructions from his mind, they have gone rogue, they surrender to war and it’s effect. Devastated, horrified and angry, the General refuses to give up until his staff and ground crew take over, pulling the man who has reached his breaking point. Kicking and screaming another pilot takes his place as the staff hold him down as the roll out of almost two dozen B17’s begin to take to the sky.
Soon our General is sitting in a chair in his office, in silent frozen fury. He is catatonic looking out into the ether, his mind checked out permanently. His hands gripping at the arm rests like he’s ready to rip them apart with his bare hands. Sweaty, wide eyed and silent he checks out, until his bomber crews arrive, which they do and in great numbers. The mission fulfilled, Peck snaps out of it, proud, happy and then shuffles off to bed, clothes and boots still on. Still in an exhaustive fog, he’s spent. This exemplar man now just a shallow meat carcass devoid of spirit.
I loved this film. From the long drawn out hopelessness to the good old nature of boys turning into men. This movie shows the horror of war without the need of blood or explosions, instead it carries it’s message in the demeanor of it’s characters. Instead of fireballs you get stern eyes and slumped shoulders. No explosions, just flexed jaws and greatly chosen words delivered in velvety sincerity. The carnage doesn’t have to be shown because it’s already there in the marvelous performances of our Actors. Just like we can see and feel the weight on General Leia Organa’s shoulders when she feels Han’s death. That real slump at the edges of her shoulders and the pain and shock in her eyes if pay close attention. We see that same hopelessness in Finn’s face when he challenges Maz at the table at her Castle.
After I drowned myself within this film, I asked myself one question, “Who is Peck in Star Wars: Episode Eight” is he Leia? looking to shape up the Resistance for the fight against the First Order? Is it Poe? who leads his teams again and again to fight Supreme Leader Snoke and his forces but eventually succumbs to Maximum Effort? Perhaps it’s my favorite moment in 12’ O’Clock High when Peck, stands up to his Commanding Officer after deliberately disobeying a direct order to withdraw his bombers. An action that see’s his team go on to bomb the target when everyone else runs back home. In that good natured tongue and cheek sparring where he acts like his radio didn’t work and he didn’t hear the order something amazing happens. This calm good natured manner starts to get more deliberate and stern after every word. Then in the middle of that moment, Peck does this marvelous action where he takes this commanding step forward which puts him eye to eye with his superior and tells him, point blank that not only will he do the same thing again if the chance arises, but he wants his Superior to put in for a commendation for the group. Here is a guy who breaks an order, then does this marvelous grand step in getting in the face of his superior asking him for citation for his men. It’s inspiring and awe inspiring to watch. Perhaps such a scene may play itself out with Poe and Laura Dern’s character in Star Wars: Episode VIII?
Perhaps General Savage is Laura Dern, who we have heard in rumors, takes over the Resistance due to General Organa being injured. A move that brings contention within Poe and his members in the Resistance. Could Laura Dern be the new person, who becomes the bravado, the stern disciplined hand that shapes her boys into men?
The thematic parts of 12’ O’clock high that I hope find their way into Star Wars: Episode VIII is the hopelessness that coats the film, like molasses on your fingers. This sort of desperation that exhausts our heroes early on in the film. No confidence, our heroes spent and a feeling this slow straight down trickling disaster like a B-17 falling out of the sky. Until a new hero arises to show the crews and viewers that pride is paramount and getting the job done, no matter the cost. I would love to see a hero truly succumb to battle fatigue as a reminder, even to young children that War isn’t fun, glorious or easy. Star Wars is always meant to be uplifting and to do that you have to sometimes start in the basement. Rian Johnson picked a really great film as his muse for Star Wars Episode VIII and I cannot wait to see his brush stroke from the paint can of 12’ O’Clock high.
12 o’Clock High is currently available on Netflix and I highly encourage you all to check it out.
It has been a long week after the incredible and fun pace of San Diego Comic Con. One of the drawn backs from having two major conventions back to back is that sometimes great information can get lost or overlooked. One such nugget of information that was overlooked was at Star Wars Celebration Europe, when Director Gareth Edwards and Lucasfilm CEO Kathy Kennedy spoke with Extra. In that interview Edwards was asked about a rumor that has made the rounds in the past year about a return of Hayden Christensen and a possible cameo of Alden Ehrenreich in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. A rumor that claimed we may catch our first glimpse of the new Han Solo and a return of Hayden as Darth Vader. The answer to that question posed to Edwards was swift and hard as concrete.
“I’m not sure if I’m allowed to do this, but I think I should, I can put to bed that Han Solo’s not in the movie.” – Director Gareth Edwards
The second question about Hayden Christensen being in the film was also shot down by Kathleen Kennedy.
“No, that is not true. No, I can confirm that”. – Kathleen Kennedy
I agree that the film creators and the Executives that make all this movie magic happen should not be in the constant business of answering to internet speculation and rumor. Their focus and talents are required for the job at bringing these amazing stories to us, however it it somewhat refreshing to get official statements like this. I know this might sound a bit odd coming from the EOC of a Star Wars news blog, but I would rather have few stories and truth, rather than piles of garbage that get circled around for clicks. I want the truth whenever we are lucky to get it and pass it onto you our readers.
So with this great find by the great individuals over at Star Wars Underworld, we can close the book on these two persistent rumors.
Check out Dominic’s take over at the SWU in the link below.
StarWarsUnderworld.com – Han Solo & Hayden Christensen Will Not Appear In ‘Rogue One’.
— ExtraTV (@extratv) July 19, 2016
— ExtraTV (@extratv) July 19, 2016
Also please check out Josh’s art blog to see more of his incredible artwork shown in the header of this story here.
With another bright and sunny day, San Diego Comic Con is in full swing. We don’t expect much in the way of Star Wars news here at the Mecca of fan conventions, but after two days, this Author found himself pleasantly surprised. From the new exclusive figures from Hasbro to the Rogue One: A Star Wars story costumes on display, SDCC is starting to show us some really great news for Star Wars.
It started on preview night for members of the press where we finally got a great view of the new costumes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In that line up a new character emerged from the new planet of Scarif.
Edrio Two Tubes is a mercenary pilot who flies alongside his eggmate, Benthic. The two share the nickname derived from the breathing apparatus that allows their Tognath physiology to process oxygen atmospheres. Edrio’s home world Yar Togna was conquered and occupied by the Empire, forcing him to flee as a refugee. Desiring to strike back at the Empire, Edrio and Benthic have allied with Saw Gerrera.[pp_gallery gallery_id=”7082″ width=”150″ height=”238″]
This new character, in all his sweet alien goodness is another outstanding achievement from Lucasfilm’s creature shop. I love the new look of tubes and textures that had everyone on the show floor turning their heads and saying “Woah, who’s that?”. A phrase I heard over and over again as I was snapping away pictures. The night continued on and in grand fashion as the fraternity of Star Wars news bloggers assembled to party and talk a little shop. With Randy, Jason and Tracy from MakingStarWars.net (who I am bunking in an apartment with all week), Chris Seekel and Dominic Jones from StarWarsUnderworld.com and of course the incredibly talented and funny Steele Saunders from SteeleWars Podcast.
Things kicked off even better the next morning at Hasbro Press Breakfast, where we finally got to see the SDCC exclusive sets that would be sold at the convention. The food was great and so was the company, as I got a chance to meet and speak with my heroes in the writing world. The guys who’s work I really envy, from Anthony Breznican at Entertainment Weekly to Peter Scieretta at Slashfilm, who mentioned that they read the Star Wars Post from time to time and they enjoy the site. A great moment that made this whole trip to SDCC worthwhile and something I will always cherish.
Today of course is the big day for Star Wars news at SDCC and in just a few hours we will be hitting the panels to report on the latest from the publishing world and merchandise. First up will be Del Rey and their publishing panel and we will as always provide live stream coverage here and via Twitter at 11:00 A.M. PST.
Update: Star Wars Hasbro panel. 12:00 P.M.
There have announced the new lineup for the six inch Hasbro Black Series for this coming year. The new figures include Gui-Gon Jin, Emperor’s Royal Guard, Hera and Lando.
The new Titanium Helmet Series have also been released. The new helmets include Sabine from Star Wars Rebels.
There is a new Luke Return Of The Jedi lightsaber as well.
Jana Solo has won the day in the Hasbro Fan Figure Choice Black Series for 2016.
Update: Star Wars Publishing Panel. 11:00 A.M.
The publish panel did not disappoint and had some new information that wasn’t revealed during Star Wars Celebration.
Star Wars: Poe Dameron’s Flight log was announced and will contain more detail into this incredible character than ever before. The book will also explain Poe’s survival from Jakku.
The new Han Solo comic looks incredible, especially it’s interior cells and the level of detail within it.
The full cover jacket for Star Wars: Aftermath “Empire’s End” has been released and shows Rey’s downed AT-AT.
Three new books have been announced for Rogue One. The most exciting of which is “The Art of” book for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The cover sports a fantastic artwork of K-2SO played by Alan Tudyk.[pp_gallery gallery_id=”7092″ width=”150″ height=”238″]
Late last night we began to see large crowds assembling for passes for the Future Filmmakers panel. These crowds were much larger in attendance than even the lines present for the Rogue One reveal on Friday. There could be a host of reasons of why that is however, could it be that the appetite for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story just isn’t as strong as it is for Star Wars: Episode VIII? We have known for some time that the Future Filmmakers panel might have some big news and it is the only show not being live streamed on the official site. The event start soon and we will do our best to bring you today’s news. Enjoy everyone.
10:05 A.M. 7/17/2016
Future Filmmakers Panel.
— Fandango MOVIECLIPS (@MOVIECLIPS) July 17, 2016
Boyega confirms that Finn gets out of his coma. “We joked it would be great to keep him in a coma and keep cutting back to him.”
“I feel like I’m coming off a ride and I’m seeing you guys about to get on it.” – Rian to Lord & Miller.
They’re shooting Han Solo in January February, for six months of prep.
Alden Ehrenreich screen-tested with Chewbacca on the Falcon. “I never acted with a wookie. It was pretty awesome.”
“It was a waste of time because the first person to audition got the part.” It’s Alden Erenreich, and he’s here!
But the person who got the part was the first person who walked in the door. They apologize to Kathy for spending all the money.
“We saw over 3,000 people all across the world … cowboy bars … everything you can imagine” for casting Han Solo — Phil and Chris
Lord and Miller almost had a cameo in Rogue One.
“Batman in the Falcon is cannon in Star Wars (laughs)” Chris Miller on the LEGO movie.
Han Solo is grouchy and cynical with the biggest heart in the galaxy. And that’s a great thing to make a movie about. – Lord
Kiri: Lawrence Kasdan was quite vocal about getting Lord and Miller to direct the Han Solo movie!
Rian Johnson confirms he’ll be in Orlando next year, and that it’ll be Episode VIII’s big showcase — as well as the 40th anniversary of SW
“The amount of sets that we’ve built for this movie [Ep VIII] has been outrageous!” Rian Johnson
“For the first time, this movie is going to start where the last one left off.”
Rian references Twelve O’clock High as a film with a big influence on VII
“Watching Rian Johnson on Episode VIII, he moves the camera as well as Spielberg” – Kathleen Kennedy[pp_gallery gallery_id=”7042″ width=”100″ height=”238″]
9:30 A.M. 7/17/2016
The Art of Storytelling Panel.
Rian Johnson lived in San Francisco for several months to immerse himself in the culture at Lucasfilm.
“We have plotted out our multiple stories across many platforms for many years in advance”.
VR was being used as a tool by Gareth Edwards to help him visualize the design of set for a new ship.
John Knoll “The most exciting projects are the one they don’t know how they will do”.