Analysis Report is based on this WIRED ARTICLE: Andor Is What Star Wars Was Meant To Be by Angela Watercutter
This article states that Disney’s purchase of Star Wars seemed like…a lost droid in the desert.
But with Andor…it is the most engrossing show in the Franchise this year, if not in many years.
This article tells what makes a show a good one out of the many reasons:
- The characters are nuanced. They are not the lead characters from previous movies or shows.
- Messages of large issues without being overwhelming.
- The settings should be planet-side or floored surfaces.
- Plots should be character-based and their neuroses but not of lead characters
- The audiences enjoy Star Wars stories based on the characters and they do not have to marquee characters outside of cameos and mentions.
- Writers and director should write and direct characters that gnaw out the story and plots. How much are characters ready to give-up to the story’s main problem. Will they be a goody-two-shoes guy, or will they be a flawed baddie? A fantasizing princess Mary Sue/Gary Stu type character is not believable for current Star Wars audiences.
- All of this above is because the writers and directors do not need to be mega-Star Wars fans, but they should know some key concepts and work with the archival team, such as Pablo Hidalgo. Being wholly invested in total canon. It frees up the creators to write a story that is wholesome to Star Wars.
- High technology is unnecessary for Star Wars stories to be told. Practical effects work to tell stories and have always been done.
What does this all mean for intepretation?
The use of any character in Star Wars depends on the story’s wish to be told. Sometimes that includes lead characters; occasionally, secondary characters are pushed to leads. And sometimes new characters. But whatever it is, known lead characters should be either cryptically referred to or name-dropped in passing to avoid confusion from fans. Professional writers know how to tell a story that weaves the more famous characters within the dialogue or filming of the show/movie. It is not that hard for them. An entirely new show/movie has to include more famous characters by reference or name-drop.
Messaging about current events is a matter of audience relatability to the story being told. If that is about rising fascism, how can the story be Star Wars-dized? Does production re-vamp new world-building exercises to say to a Star Wars-dized tale of a current event? For example, new, never-seen-before villains invade the galaxy invoking their beliefs. Or go with the devil, such as the evil empire. Both require world-build, but one needs a new exposition, and the other is easier to build for fans. However, the more effortless exposition caters to fans’ whims, making it fan service.
Star Wars created the movie to start as an aerial battle. However, once in the grit of the story, there are flat surfaces. The camera angles show these surfaces in wide, angled, or close-up shots. Images from Star Wars A New Hope cannot be compared with other pictures because the stories are different, historically and realistically. In 1975-1976 Lucasfilm created the technology used today with artistry. And that is why one goes to film school to become a director to tell their story with camera shots. Usually, textbook examples of these storyboard shots are done to convey the story best and connect with the audience. It is what they are doing in Andor. Strange movements or boring wide theater-only shots disconnect the audience, which was evident in the Sequels. Camera angles relied heavily on special effects rather than telling the story with a classic mechanism of how a movie is made. The Reylo interrogation scene in The Force Awakens is an example. Another example is the Reylo scene where Rey tells Kylo Ren about the future in the elevator when he desires to kiss her in The Last Jedi. Both examples are mainly wide shots, not as close as they could have been to convey the meaning of Force Dyad and possible lovers.
As stated before, using lead versus secondary versus totally new characters depends on the Star Wars story. But the characters’ flaws and internal conflicts must be shown to the audience. Either by dialogue or facial gestures, which makes it rest on the actors. The difference between the Original Trilogy, Prequels, and Sequels is that the actors had a free range of emotion in the Original Trilogy. Then due to time to the following stories, emotional expression was lost. Acting is different from 1977 compared to today. Thus, actors are told to share an emotion as described than permitted long ago. It is not due to the quality of actors because the Prequel and Sequel actors are superb in their skills. But they appeared to be restricted based on what had been told them in the script. In my opinion, to get the grit we see in Andor, actors must be allowed to show off their skills and be told to review Star Wars literature to gain a better appreciation of what is performed — basically, the actors should be fans of all of Star Wars.
The lesser characters should know what well-known characters say in the story’s context. In The Force Awakens, Rey said “Darth Vader” after she thought Luke Skywalker was a myth, as if the entire story is mythical. Rey states Vader as if she knew him to Kylo Ren, who personally knows Vader because he is his grandfather. While the scene is interesting, the awkward dialogue with a marquee character name-drop happens after the mythological comment. What should be done in the script storyboard and dialogue maintenance? And careful overview with archival follow-up before filming. Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni seem to check the flow of their scripts and have an outline before production. Any filming changes are necessary.
Well-developed characters with both endowed strengths and weaknesses. The flaws of the characters and the compassion of all characters seem to be what audiences want to see. How characters become their greatest selves and overcome, their flaws are a part of the story. Heroes succeed in the good, and villains fail in the bad. The conflict in Star Wars is good and evil. The alignment is based on the characters and their machinations in the story. Andor shows more weaknesses in their hero characters to show how impossible the fight is against fascism and how the heroes overcome the minuscule chance of defending democracy. In short, the characters should be well-developed.
The writers and directors do not have to be Star Wars fanboys for a good Star Wars movie or TV show. They must be highly trained with quality movies that align with the Star Wars story. If Disney Lucasfilm wants “new blood” to write their own stories, those stories should undergo a Star Wars-dization process. Even the new blood has a Star Wars learning curve to fit the Franchise. Whether that is further action by Disney Lucasfilm is unknown, but the book must rely on more than Wookieepedia for that information because sometimes, they are wrong. While Pablo Hidalgo is a great resource, it is better to be familiar with primary sources, such as authors or other notes that might not be public knowledge that Wookieepedia missed. As an intro to Star Wars 101 review, Wookieepedia is good, but a true encyclopedia is not. They are selective in the fullness of the information. The Legends characters and stories of the Yuuzhan Vong are an example. The writers of Wookieepedia hate these characters and stories. Thus, well-developed characters and stories are skewed into whole negativity that hurts production if Wookieepedia is used as a sole source. When writing Star Wars stories for a show, one must consider a comprehensive literature review with short personal author interviews.
While Star Wars has been known for new high technology in their stories for movies and TV shows, Andor has used practical effects to tell their stories than this technology. When showing aspects of battle, then yes, high-tech prison VFX should be used. But in the prison, interrogation audience relatability. These must be weighed according to the story. A story against fascism and torture can use practical effects. A story about a navy must use VFX to tell the story. In the end, all of the use of technology effects depend on the story.
In the TL;DR – What makes a “good” Star Wars story is well-developed characters with strengths and flaws. These are depended on the writers and producers that do not necessarily have to be Star Wars fanboys, but not only use a known wrong sole source as comprehensive information of the Franchise. The actors should be fanboys and have read the Star Wars story. Lastly, while practical effects seem to resonate with audiences, the use of VFX depends on the story being told.
Listen to our podcast on this subject at this blog post
From Star Wars Legends to Current Canon: How are we doing? Is it expanded vs. extended?
We will answer the question with many innuendoes: IS STAR WARS VANILLA? Which characters are “vanilla” flavored?
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