A Shot-by-Shot Dissection of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer


It’s here! Yesterday, the world caught its first glimpse of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in a 90-second teaser that played into the greatest force of all: nostalgia. Every Star Wars fan, young and old, casual and obsessive, now has about 390 long, hard days to wait, plan and speculate on their return to that galaxy far, far away. There’s no time to waste, so let’s start the speculating now with a shot-by-shot deconstruction of the teaser.

I remember back to 1998, seeing that first teaser for Phantom Menace some 15 years after Return of the Jedi. I was stoked. For months I obsessed, buying pre-released posters and memorabilia and even paying to see the Freddie Prinze Jr. bomb, Wing Commander, just to get a big-screen glimpse of the second Phantom Menace trailer. The two moments in that trailer that first made me gasp with excitement were the 20th Century Fox logo, followed by that iconic green Lucasfilm logo. That was the buffer, the curtain call for excitement. I expected the Force Awakens teaser to do the same, with a Disney logo in place of 20th Century Fox. Surprisingly, there were no company logos at all, perhaps a deliberate move to separate the film from any affronting George Lucas associations.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.30.00 AMThe trailer fades in (no wipe) from black to a shot of a desert. Is this Tatooine? I like to think so, though it could be another desert planet. A voiceover comes on and says:

“There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it?”

I love the double meaning of this narration, as obvious correlations can be made to Disney’s reinvigoration of the Star Wars franchise years after the poorly regarded prequels. Much has been discussed about this mysterious voice, and many, myself included, believe it to be the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch. Rumor has it that Cumberbatch is involved in the film in some small way, and the voice does have that familiar, Smaug-like droll. Other possibilities for this mysterious voice could be Andy Serkis or even Max von Sydow, both a part of the cast and both absent from the teaser.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.30.55 AMA loud musical beat kicks on, officially confirmed as part of the new John Williams score, and a sweaty, out of breath, panicked John Boyega pops into frame. But wait! He’s wearing Stormtrooper armor! This is my favorite shot of the entire teaser. I love the urgency and the endless possibilities. We know from the prequels that the Stormtroopers are Jango Fett Clones, so is Boyega a new Trooper? A mole? Is the Empire still in power? Whatever the case, if you listen closely, you’ll hear the low hum of a probe droid at the end of the clip, hinting that Boyega himself may be on the run from some Imperial remnant. On a side note, if you’re unfamiliar with Boyega, watch Attack the Block immediately.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.31.39 AMMaybe that sound wasn’t a probe droid at all; maybe it was this little guy. Probably not, but still, this awesome little guy is a great hybrid with an R2 style head and a smaller body similar to a soccer ball, or perhaps a smaller version of the rolling battle droids seen in the prequels. Who doesn’t love a cute droid? And what is that he’s rolling past? Is that a scrap yard? Is Watto still kicking around?

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.31.54 AMStirring violins kick on in the musical score as lights flicker inside a Stormtrooper transport vehicle. Could this be the Imperial Troop Transport (ITT), a toy famously released in Kenner’s New Hope line in 1979, but noticeably absent from the actual film? The ITT is a familiar vehicle in the new Rebels animated series, and here, it may make its first significant movie appearance. In this shot we catch a glimpse of a few Troopers in the ready. And check out those awesome new Stormtrooper helmets!

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.33.00 AMA nice close-up on a Stormtrooper blaster, likely available in toy stores everywhere just in time for Christmas 2015.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.33.35 AMThe transport opens into the night. Is this a siege? Is Boyega onboard? So far, it’s looking like the Empire may be alive and well. My interest is piqued.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.34.37 AMNext, we catch our first glimpse of Daisy Ridley, looking somewhat panicked atop her speeder bike. Check out that outfit. Looks a lot like the outfits the Rebels wore on their attack on Endor.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.34.05 AMRidley fires up her Speeder bike, a new design that has some elements of the classic speeder bikes, the New Hope landspeeder and a podracer. Sounds similar to a podracer too.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.35.10 AMShe moves towards a setting similar to the scrap yard shown in the shot of the soccer droid. Maybe that’s Daisy’s droid?

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.35.22 AMWe’re inside the cockpit of an X-Wing! Oscar Isaac is piloting and he’s wearing a uniform similar to those classic orange pilot jumpsuits from the original trilogy. Take note of that Rebel insignia on his helmet and jacket. Are the Rebels still fighting the Imperials? Has the war raged on for these past 30 years?

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.35.56 AMWhoa! Three X-Wings fly over the water. Just imagine what battle waits beyond! This is a stunning shot. Take a few minutes and let this sink in.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.36.20 AMA black cloaked and hooded figure pushes through a snowy, wooded scene in the dark of night. He or she is moving with deliberate urgency. Boom! The figure fires up an incredible red lightsaber with a beyond badass saber cross-guard. I’ll tell you what, and this may be a controversial statement, but this is the coolest lightsaber I’ve ever seen. That rigid, pulsing saber has an imperfect edge to it. It has personality. But who is this character? Clearly it’s a villain from the dark side. Is it Adam Driver? Is it Ridley? Just about 390 days until we find out. That mysterious voice comes back on and says;

“The dark side.”

The shot fades to black, and in darkness the voice adds,

“And the light.”

Does this darkness hint at the absence of that light in this installment of the series?

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.37.06 AMFinally, the familiar John Williams Star Wars theme flairs up and the Millennium Falcon soars across the screen, contrails streaming behind. We all knew this was coming, but seeing the Falcon’s return is a thing of beauty.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.37.26 AMA brief hint of Abrams lens flare, though, to be fair, it fits with the movement and angle of this shot and is much more minimal than in his previous films. I’m sure there isn’t much of this in the movie, but I couldn’t resist pointing it out.

star_wars_force_unleashed_trailer_millennium_falconThe ship flies over the desert landscape and narrowly passes two firing TIE Fighters. Boy, is the Empire all over this teaser. Look at that shot!

That’s it. Short and oh so sweet. I’m bummed we didn’t get to see Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher, but this was a great tease of the newest characters in the Star Wars Universe. If you’re like me, you’ve watched the teaser more times in the past day than you’re comfortable admitting. What did you take away from it?

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15 thoughts on “A Shot-by-Shot Dissection of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

  1. rectangular dish on the Falcon… upgrade after the circular one got knocked off in the second Death Star siege.

  2. I’m not sure on the stormtroopers; all we know for sure is that clone tropers were, well, clones, in teh Republic era. During the time of the Empire, I know Luke and Biggs wanted to join the Academy, but that was cut out of Ep IV. And Rebels shows stormtrooper recruits. If stormtroopers are all still clones, I cannot find a proper reference.

    Other notable points of the trailer include the new wings on the X-wings.Please notice how they are cut along the middle and look like the upper and lower wings fit to create a thinner one, whereas in the old model both were full width. To me it makes the X-Wings look less dangerous… But maybe it’s just me.

    Also, TIE fighters have not been updated in 30 years, it seems. Maybe all sides are facing money cuts? ;P

    1. After the clone wars there was an uprising on Kamino that was put down by Boba Fett. After that a variety of clone templates were used to create Stormtroopers.

  3. Anyone else think the disembodied voice sounds like Djimon Hounsou? I know he hasn’t shown up on any cast lists, but still…

  4. Hi geekdad … Iam loving the new trailer. Regarding the girl on the speeder. When she gets on there is what looks like a lightsabre attached to the side, but when she pulls away its gone. A blooper in the trailer! Lets hope not.. It must be 2 sequences edited Together .The speeder also reminds me of an ice lolly or a popsicle as you guys stateside call it.. perhaps we should call it a pop-cycle….. keep up the great work

  5. I’m pretty sure the Stormtroopers from the original movies were regular people. Otherwise Luke would of really stood out in the Death Star.

    The USA still uses jets from 30 years ago so keeping the Ties the same is no big deal. I’m sure we will see new and updated ships.

    I thought they were going to use mostly models for the ships. Everything in the trailer looked CG.

    1. True, some planes do have long operational lifetimes. Still, I found it odd, especially compared to how fast ships evolved in episodes I-III, hence my comment about financial problems everywhere… which was a joke, then it wasn’t.

      Maybe they’ll comment something in the actual film, maybe it will be addressed in additional material for us fans.

  6. Hey Vince, I think all the clones died our before the ANH timeline. My other thought of that lightsaber was how easy it would be for another lightsaber to cut them off if they were to clash, then slide down the edge like they do. What would happen to those got cut off?

  7. Also, I always thought the design of the Tie fighter was not practical from a pilots point of view…no peripheral vision

  8. Looks like perhaps a sheathed vibroblade strapped to the side of the pod in the first pic of Ridley? Missing from second pic…continuity oversight? Presumably she stowed it somewhere?

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