J.J. Abrams Talks Star Wars 7 Lightsaber

Ryan Leston
UK Movies Writer

The first trailer for ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ revealed a rather controversial new lightsaber… and it looks as though J.J. Abrams has heard all our concerns.

It’s no secret that the new lightsaber design seen in the ‘Star Wars VII’ trailer has been met with some opposition. For one thing, it looks very different to those that have come before… and more importantly, has been ridiculed as being too impractical.

But what does J.J. Abrams think?

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During an interview with Collider, the ‘Star Wars VII’ director addressed the new lightsaber design… and finds it amusing to see us discussing the same things they did.

“A number of conversations [led to the design],” he said. “It was a sketch that became a whole thing and, you know, this was not done without a lot of conversation and it’s fun to see people have the conversation that we had, but in reverse.”

It certainly sounds as though Abrams and his ‘Star Wars’ designers have discussed the functionality and practicality of the new lightsaber in much the same way that we have.

“I will say that what’s been funny is, since the lightsaber’s come out, I cannot tell you how many contradictory emails I have received from people who have both defended it with unbelievably detailed graphics… I’ve gotten things that are nuts, and I’ve gotten people who’ve shown how it’ll kill you and how it doesn’t make any sense. It’s been the funniest thing to see the arguments that have developed over this thing.”

Of course, whether or not the design works in context remains to be seen… and the real proof will come when we see that thing in action. But the new lightsaber isn’t the only new aspect of ‘Star Wars VII’… there’s also the addition of IMAX footage. And Abrams reveals that it’s not as extensive as we might think.

“It’s really one sequence so it’s not a ton [of IMAX footage],” he explained. “But it’s a good sequence.”

Obviously there’s been some scepticism about ‘going digital’ in a film which seemingly aims to recapture the golden age of sci-fi… but Abrams insists that they’ve found the right balance and I have to admit, I’m inclined to believe him.

“I feel like the beauty of this age of filmmaking is that there are more tools at your disposal,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean that any of these new tools are automatically the right tools. And there are a lot of situations where we went very much old school and in fact used CG more to remove things than to add things.”

“There are obviously an enormous amount of CG effects in the film, and I can’t wait for you to see the combination. But it was very important that we build as many sets as we could and that the film have a tangible, sort of authentic quality that you believed that these things were actually happening in a real space with real sunlight, if it was an exterior scene, or if we could build a big portion of a scene and not have anything be blue screen, do it where we could. It was a very important piece of work.”

But has J.J. pulled it off? For now, we’ll have to wait and see. But I get the feeling that if anyone can make it feel authentic and true to the spirit of ‘Star Wars’, it’s J.J. Abrams.

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ heads to cinemas on 18 December 2015.

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Picture Credit: Lucasfilm