Peter Suderman on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Hollywood's Love of Cinematic Nostalgia


It looks like a lot of you saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens over the weekend.

The movie broke all sorts of box office records, including biggest single day ever (about $120.5 million, versus $91 million for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2), and biggest domestic opening weekend ever (about $238 million, compared to Jurassic World's $208 million). It's possible, though far from certain, that it could eventually overtake Avatar as the biggest box office hit of all time (not adjusting for inflation). Those numbers could turn out to be even higher after everything is accounted for.

Even Disney, the studio behind the film, is saying that it's bigger than expected.

For my part, however, I found the movie itself to be a little smaller than expected—too heavy on nostalgia, and too narrowly drawn from the existing Star Wars universe. In a column for Vox this week, I look at The Force Awakens' nostalgia factor, and the broader cinematic nostalgia that seems to have taken hold in Hollywood recently. Here's how it starts:

Those with fond memories of the original Star Wars—which to some degree includes just about everyone who loves movies—will find much to like about The Force Awakens, the latest entry in the series.

Beyond the inclusion of most of the core cast of the original film, the movie is replete with references to the first Star Wars film and its two sequels, from subtly rhyming images and stylistic choices (the movie was shot on real film rather than digital) to locations that mirror the original sets and the very structure of the plot itself.

Indeed, as many others have already pointed outThe Force Awakens is practically a beat-by-beat reworking of the original, complete with a third-act X-Wing trench run, a planet-killing superweapon used to destroy a peaceful society, and a diminutive droid carrying secret plans to help the hero Rebels fight what's left of the Empire. Even the movie's newest, freshest element—its trio of appealing young leads—feels like a mix-and-match creation built from the various personality traits of the original characters.

Read the whole thing here