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← Everything is a Remix: The Force Awakens

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Showing Revision 12 created 11/11/2016 by Maggie S (Amara staff).

  1. Want to remix your business?
    Check out the book at crossindustryinnovation.com
  2. Star Wars fans had a rough ride for many years.
  3. First George Lucas recut the original films to incorporate garish, artificial-looking CGI.
  4. Then he produced a trio of popular but largely disliked prequels that featured
  5. more garish, artificial-looking CGI
  6. along with flat characters,
  7. convoluted plots,
  8. and Jar Jar.
  9. Light sabres were wilting among the faithful.
  10. The JJ Abrams directed "The Force Awakens"
  11. was the Star Wars movie fans were looking for,
  12. and it was greeted with overwhelming praise.
  13. "The Force Awakens is one of the most entertaining movies that I've seen."
  14. "I LOVE that movie".
  15. "If I'd walked out of the theatre, turned left,
  16. and saw episode eight playing, I would have gone right in".
  17. But even among those who loved it, there was a recurring criticism.
  18. "Don't be fooled, young Ely,
  19. JJ Abrams never told you how he recycled the story."
  20. "Basically, it is A New Hope with another family plot in there."
  21. "On more than a few occasions, you're like 'I've seen that'."
  22. "I wanted something new and I really didn't get that."
  23. This core complaint was echoed more strongly elsewhere.
  24. It was called “the biggest fan film ever made.”
  25. Some claimed our culture suffers from a “nostalgia problem”.
  26. Others said it was an indicator of the “stagnation and repetition” of our collective imagination.
  27. And the film was also called a "remix,"
  28. which seemed to not be a compliment.
  29. It was even dubbed “the apotheosis of remix culture, its logical endpoint.”
  30. The remix method of copying, transforming and combining
  31. is definitely used in "The Force Awakens,"
  32. as well as the other works of JJ Abrams.
  33. Is remixing a weak point in "The Force Awakens"?
  34. Is the remix method growing stale?
  35. Have we reached the limits of remixing?
  36. Everything is a Remix
  37. The Limits of Remixing
  38. JJ Abrams is well acquainted with the concept of remixing,
  39. but he’s a different kind of remixer than George Lucas.
  40. Lucas tended to copy scenes and shots,
  41. while Abrams tends to copy major story elements.
  42. This is something he’s done from the very beginning of his career,
  43. and his earliest screenplays loyally follow established story templates.
  44. "Taking Care of Business" is about a rich man and a poor man swapping identities,
  45. a formula that was established in Mark Twain’s "Prince and the Pauper,"
  46. then used in many films, including the hit "Trading Places."
  47. "Regarding Henry" came in the midst of a trend of films
  48. about people with intellectual disabilities
  49. teaching us life lessons and being adorable.
  50. "This is dancing."
  51. In "Gone Fishin’" the disaster prone lead characters narrowly escape a string of misfortunes
  52. and triumph in the end,
  53. a comedy tradition that dates back to at least Buster Keaton.
  54. Abrams’ voice becomes more distinct as he starts to transform and combine his sources more.
  55. The influence of Steven Speilberg emerges in "Joy Ride,"
  56. a killer truck movie that resembles Speilberg’s "Duel" crossed with a road trip film.
  57. The TV series "Felicity" was his take on the popular
  58. self-aware teen drama genre of the nineties
  59. and it incorporates some unusual elements,
  60. like a Twilight Zone-style episode and this shocking twist.
  61. "I am down... but I am not in anyway, out".
  62. His next show, "Alias," was a Felicity-like college drama crossed with a spy thriller.
  63. Abrams first big success was "Lost,"
  64. which took the stranded on an island genre of "Survivor" and "Castaway" and added the nonlinear timeline
  65. popularized by Quentin Tarantino and the surreal plot twists of "The Twilight Zone."
  66. Since graduating to the big screen, Abrams specialty has been rebooting familiar material.
  67. "Mission Impossible III" was an Alias-like version of the Tom Cruise vehicle and renewed an aging franchise.
  68. "Super 8" was directed in the stye of Spielberg and resembled a monster movie version of "ET."
  69. And his Star Trek films successfully relaunched the franchise while pleasing most — if not all — of the existing fans.
  70. So with this knack for updating and refreshing familiar material, Abrams brought his remix-like approach to "Star Wars: Episode VII."
  71. "The Force Awakens" incorporates a bit of George Lucas-style remixing.
  72. There’s a shot inspired by "Apocalypse Now."
  73. The x-wings skimming over the water was taken from the film "Firefox."
  74. And the sword fight in gently falling snow recalls "Kill Bill,"
  75. which itself copied "Lady Snowblood."
  76. But most of the remixing in "The Force Awakens" is of story elements,
  77. and the primary source is "Episode IV: A New Hope."
  78. In both films, an old Jedi must be found.
  79. Vital information is tucked away in a cute droid.
  80. On a desert planet, the droid is found by a young orphan.
  81. Storm troopers search for the vital information and kill innocent people.
  82. Our heroes narrowly escape in the millennium falcon.
  83. The orphan forms a relationship with an elder figure.
  84. Han Solo has a confrontation with someone he owes money.
  85. There’s a space bar filled with wacky creatures, where our heroes are stared at in silence for a moment.
  86. The villains have a planet-like weapon that destroys planets.
  87. This is also the second time JJ Abrams has destroyed a planet.
  88. The villain murders the elder figure, which the orphan witnesses.
  89. The heroes go into the planet-like weapon to incapacitate something.
  90. Ships fly down a trench, shoot a particular spot, and destroy it.
  91. This is the third time this has happened.
  92. There’s even a joke:
  93. "How do I blow it up? There's always a way to do that".
  94. Which suggests there’s a twist coming.
  95. But then there isn’t.
  96. And there’s also elements copied from the original Star Wars that seem like they really should have been changed.
  97. The First Order, like the Empire, is modeled on Nazis, despite there being no significant nazi threats since 1945.
  98. And the Jedi are again a semi-mythical clan, despite sensationally saving the galaxy only a few decades earlier.
  99. Maybe they left the record keeping to the ewoks.
  100. The film certainly isn’t all copying.
  101. There’s plenty of transforming as well, especially in the characters.
  102. The hero is a woman,
  103. another lead is a former stormtrooper,
  104. and the villain is a raging, failure-prone fanboy.
  105. These changes provide some of the freshest narratives.
  106. So "The Force Awakens" clearly is a remix...
  107. but so is everything else.
  108. For as long as humans have been creating, we have been copying, transforming and combining.
  109. The issue isn’t the remixing, it’s that the film is heavy on copying, and lighter on transforming and combining.
  110. But this was an intentional choice.
  111. "FAMILIAR"
  112. "The Force Awakens" was designed to be familiar because we love the familiar.
  113. That’s why more and more of Hollywood’s top hits are new versions of old stories.
  114. But the familiar isn’t the only thing we love.
  115. We’re also attracted to the novel,
  116. the unusual,
  117. the innovative.
  118. This is a smaller, riskier market but it’s influential
  119. and it’s where many of the most enduring films are born.
  120. The familiar and the novel both appeal to us.
  121. Think of them as two halves of a spectrum.
  122. Box office hits tend to land on the left, critical hits tend to land on the right.
  123. But some films land right in the middle,
  124. like the original "Star Wars."
  125. It felt very novel because it blended previously unrelated pieces
  126. into a highly unusual and innovative package.
  127. Yet it also felt very familiar because it copied something well known,
  128. the mythical structure of countless heroic tales of the past.
  129. The result was something that strongly appealed to our desires for both the novel and the familiar.
  130. This target between the novel and the familiar is something we can all aim for.
  131. We can make our novel ideas more accessible and understandable
  132. and perhaps more impactful by copying familiar elements.
  133. And we can make our familiar ideas more fresh, exciting and surprising
  134. by extensively remixing from diverse sources.
  135. And if you can create that perfect hybrid of the new and old,
  136. the results can be explosive.
  137. Support Everything is a Remix on KickStarter and Patreon.
  138. See show notes for links.
  139. Okay, one last thing.
  140. In the book, "The Art of the Force Awakens"
  141. you can get a glimpse of the remix method at work.
  142. Most of these tags are references to remixing.
  143. This illustration includes an image of a water bear, a weird little microscopic creature.
  144. This one is very closely modeled on the Nazi’s Nurembourg rally.
  145. This early image of Snoke was based on the Lincoln Memorial.
  146. Rey’s speeder is a combination of Luke’s speeder and a tractor.
  147. Maz Kanata was inspired by Abrams’ high school teacher, Rose Gilbert.
  148. And with this image the artist thought he was copying this scene from "The Right Stuff,"
  149. which he thought featured a girl dressed as a mermaid.
  150. But it actually doesn’t.
  151. So he thought was copying, but we actually transforming.
  152. And one last piece of evidence that suggests the team behind "The Force Awakens"
  153. were intentionally employing the remix method is Rey’s last name:
  154. Mixer.
  155. Rey Mixer.
  156. Get it?
  157. Or perhaps someone working on the book was just having a little fun.
  158. You be the judge.
  159. Hi everybody, and welcome back to Everything is a Remix.
  160. First things first, we have a new Kickstarter campaign with awesome Star Wars inspired t-shirts.
  161. First is an Empire Strikes Back style design
  162. the other is a our nod to the opening sequence of the very first Everything is a Remix.
  163. And you can get the beta edition of "The Remix Method," a short book about using remix techniques in your work.
  164. And that is available exclusively via Kickstarter.
  165. And all shipped order come with free stickers.
  166. And if you’d like to see more free videos from me, come back me on Patreon.
  167. Right now when you back, you'll also get access to my video on demand series. This is Not a Conspiracy Theory.
  168. I hope you enjoyed the video,
  169. and if there is sufficient interest, there should be at least a few more of these.
  170. They won’t be an episodic series like the original four videos were.
  171. They will each be independent installments,
  172. but if you guys are still enjoying them, I think I've got a few more in me.
  173. My thanks to the awesome people at
  174. Cross-industry Innovation,
  175. MailChimp,
  176. Provoke,
  177. and XOXO for their support.
  178. And thanks to Ray Kimber, Antonio Garcia and Youssef Abdelmohsen for their help.
  179. Up next from me is the fourth episode of "This is Not a Conspiracy Theory"
  180. and it should be epic.
  181. You can check out that site at thisisnotaconspiracytheory.com.
  182. Thanks so much for watching
  183. and I will see you next time.