Lawrence Kasdan on Whether Star Wars is Sci-Fi or Fantasy, the True Definition of a Jedi

Tuesday, 24 November 2015 - 2:00PM
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Tuesday, 24 November 2015 - 2:00PM
Lawrence Kasdan on Whether Star Wars is Sci-Fi or Fantasy, the True Definition of a Jedi
Star Wars has been the subject of many great debates, some of which the fandom has agreed upon answers (Han shot first, duh). But it's genuinely unclear whether the series is sci-fi or fantasy. It's a space opera, so people instinctively say sci-fi, but the Force is often treated as some kind of magic. And then there are those pesky midichlorians (goddammit, midichlorians). Now, legendary Star Wars writer Lawrence Kasdan has given his answer to this persistent question:

Opening quote
"Star Wars is its own genre," Kasdan told Wired. "It's not really science fiction. It's really something on its own, fantasy and myth and science fiction and Flash Gordon and Akira Kurosawa all mixed up together. For that reason, like all genre it can hold a million different kinds of artists an stories. That's why I think Rian Johnson's movie [Episode VIII] is going to be amazing, and I think Chris Lord and Phil Miller's movie [about young Han Solo] is going to be amazing. They say Buddha is what you do to it. And that's Star Wars. It can be anything you want it to be."
Closing quote

Okay, so that's not a specific answer, but it might be the most true one. And the idea of Star Wars being "its own genre" is the same reasoning used to justify Disney's plan to roll out a new Star Wars movie every year for the rest of time.

Kasdan also discussed the true definition of a Jedi, which is somewhat a point of contention. They have a philosophy of self-denial, similar to Stoic and Buddhist doctrines, in which they discourage emotions and passion for the sake of serenity. So are true Jedi emotionless? Kasdan says there are many different answers, but this is his, which is probably the closest to canon we're going to get:

Opening quote
"To me, Ben Kenobi is the ultimate Jedi. When you see Alec Guinness play that part, everything that you would want from a Jedi is in that. There is nothing about Alec Guinness that is unemotional, that has given up everything material and is living in a spiritual world.

He has a strong relationship to Toshiro Mifune's character in Yojimbo, and a strong relationship to the head man in Seven Samurai. Those guys are not in some spiritual world. They are in both worlds. They are dangerous and engaged and feeling and empathetic and generous and brave."
Closing quote

And finally, Kasdan discussed the movie we've all been waiting for: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He claims that their main goal while making the movie was "delight" on the part of the viewer, and that the finished cut is more than qualified to give fans the same feelings of joy that they felt for the first trilogy:

Opening quote
"What we wanted from the movie was exactly the same, to return it to a kind of physicality-tangible, real sets, real features, kind of lightly funky even though it's incredibly sophisticated. The feeling we wanted was from the first trilogy, which was, it's fun, it's delightful, it moves like a son of a bitch, and you don't question too much.

On the first day, I said, 'look, delight, that's the word. In every scene, that should be the criteria we're using. Does it delight? Is it fun?' I look at the movie now, and I'm feeling very good about that. What J.J. did with it is so great. You take all of J.J.'s gifts, the dynamism of his camera and his sense of humor and feeling of momentum, his ideas of story, and I feel like we were able to achieve that delight. It's an unusual feeling even for me. When I look at the movie, I can't resist it. It just tickles me."
Closing quote

Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out on December 18.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Force Awakens