So Star Wars Episode VII was pretty impressive, as it happened. Some fools left the cinema moaning that “Disney has ruined Star Wars”, but most applauded and, frankly, Abrams (and Disney) have managed to deLucas the whole thing, and that can only be good. From the moment we saw that Rey’s land speeder had a big dent in the front of it, it was clear that J J Abrams understood what the franchise was meant to be about better than its creator, and the joy of townscapes with big patches of empty in them, rather than CGI aliens falling off other CGI aliens in supposedly comical fashion, was good enough to taste. What I really enjoyed, though, is that the original actors are old, and that the new folks refer to the events the old folks took part in as if it happened fortyish years ago, which, of course, it did. Like it or loath it, here we have a cinematic epic in the completing which is playing out in real time, and that is quite something.
The Abramsesque nods to the series’ mythos are there, just as they were when he (successfully, in my view) restarted the whole Star Trek thing, and, again, as in Star Trek, the film treads that ever so fine line between making those who have spent at least part of their lives in that universe since the age of seven (e.g. me) feel at home, while not alienating those new to the whole thing. Thus the sands bear the wasted wreckage of Imperial cruisers and AT-ATs from over thirty years ago, but we also find out who exactly dealt with the sanitation on the Death Star. For all the faults and dodgy moments of dialogue (which have always been there) I’ll take this film because it looks astonishingly un-CGIed, and also because there are no Ewoks and, thank heavens, no Jar-Jar Binks. Even BB8, who I thought was an excuse for a marketing department to go mad, has substantial charm, and answers another pressing question – how does a spherical robot go down stairs?
Visits to other galaxies apart, I am in the final bustle before Christmas, and greatly looking forward to getting it all out of the way. I have managed to have one or two days off in the past week, but the driving up and down to London is still there, and it will be good to have a break. I am also very keen to get back to writing and to finish a song commission, also to get sketching on the new Parliament Choir piece, about which I am very excited indeed. This is going to be the kind of piece where (I hope) the ideas that can be expressed on a large orchestral canvas will find an outlet in the smaller dimensions of a choral work. Certainly I think it will be different in style from my previous offerings for the choir.
An evening of organ practice awaits, the kind of thing that needs to be done before the final carol services. Then, come Tuesday, it is back to Somerset, doors closed and car keys hidden at least for a while, and while it might not snow, at least it will be some kind of holiday.