There is a vast difference between a storyteller who is passionate for the story they are telling, and a writer who is simply creating something of interest to them. The case seems to be aptly demonstrated with J.J. Abrams who is famous for rebooting film franchises. Not long ago he recreated Star Trek and recently his Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters with a thunderous response from critics and viewers. After watching the film myself I realized that the love of the story made a huge difference here.
Long-time Star Trek fans, almost as a whole, did not care for and some even despised Abrams’ remake. Vulcans lost their emotional control to a level not hereto seen, big bad villains ruled the screen, and action packed the screen time instead of relationships and good ol’ theoretical science. Transformers had met Star Trek. Many people speculated that the cause of this failure to catch the loyalty of long-time Trek fans was due to Abrams’ personal admittance that he was never a Trek fan himself. In addition to that it turned out that much of the cast had not even watched Star Trek, with the exception being Karl Urban who beautifully embodied the beloved Leonard McCoy also affectionately called “Bones.” Urban was himself a Trek fan and it showed in his part. The consequence was a movie that did not leave die hard Trek fans thrilled, instead it left them asking for a return to the old style of storytelling. The fans’ passion for the Star Trek universe has now successfully launched a rather impressive series called Renegades and other fan-funded projects are well on their way to success as well.
The point in all of this is that good storytelling requires a passion for the material.
As a long-time Star Wars fan Abrams’ approach to The Force Awakens has paid off. Rather than changing everything that we know and love about the Star Wars universe he has taken the look, feel, and the light and the dark again into familiar territory. While there was much good action throughout The Force Awakens, it never feels forced but rather melds with the drama each character is experiencing. Old characters are treated like old friends, with numerous hat-tipping to the original Star Wars trilogy. Quite unexpectedly (even though Disney officially declared the Expanded Universe of novels and video games irrelevant to this movie) there were several blatant steals from the EU… and they were good ones. They pulled a few choice elements that I was hoping to see carried into the new movies, though they did change it up a bit.
Writers need to be passionate for the stories they are creating, otherwise the effort leaves no lasting impact. Abrams demonstrated with this film that he truly is passionate for the Star Wars universe. What a difference it makes when a creative individual works at something because they love it!
Q: How do you see passion driving better storytelling?
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