The Star Wars twitter account today tweeted the official title for the upcoming and much anticipated Episode VII. With many industry insiders and analysts whispering about the possibility of a teaser trailer being released before the year is out it makes sense that Disney would want to get out ahead of the game with the title of the latest installment in the space opera saga. What Disney get credit for is dropping this announcement out of absolutely nowhere. What they lose credit for is…well…the fact that the title is kind of boring.
The seventh (official!) installment in the saga and the start of Star Wars‘ third trilogy is officially titled Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There’s no indication thus far that Episode VII will be a part of the official moniker, although it’s unlikely that it’ll be referred to as much else, given the decades of speculation about the possibility of an chronological extension and what is already years of anticipation since Disney’s 2012 announcement.
There’s already plenty of speculation as to the meaning of the title. Episode I: The Phantom Menace referred to a threat and Episode IV: A New Hope referred to a possible salvation, so it makes sense that Episode VII: The Force Awakens is immediately…ambiguous. For plenty of us the Force brings to mind all of the most heroic feats of the two trilogies, from Luke firing the fatal shot to the Death Star or lifting his shuttle from a swamp, to Obi-Wan using his Jedi skills to bring an end to Darth Maul and avenge his mentor’s demise. But at the same time, it can also reflect some of the darker elements of the franchise: It was the Force that thrust upon Anakin visions of a tortured mother; that chilled us as Vader proved his might upon the throat of an unruly Admiral for the first time or the power that the Emperor harnessed throughout multiple films to throw lightning at anyone he pleased.
There was a lot of talk throughout all of the previous features about there being balance in the Force, an equal measure of the good and bad. After the dissolution of the Empire at the end of Return of the Jedi is it possible that the galaxy is maybe a little too squeaky and that The Force Awakens refers to the rise of a new threat and a new evil? Perhaps, although the more clinical, skeptical perspective that creeps to mind is that the title makes little sense as the Force is a constant ethereal presence and to imagine it as having laid dormant for however many decades is in the same vein as suggesting that gravity could just disappear for a while. Whether you notice it or not, it’s really more of a constant presence.
Whilst the title does smack somewhat of committee-approval (say what you will about the prequels, there was always something charming about George Lucas doing whatever he damn well pleased with a multi-billion dollar franchise that a Disney boardroom will never be able to replicate) it’s not a dumb choice; It will certainly cater to the lowest common denominator of Star Wars fans and any optimists let down by the title will continue to hold out hope for footage before making any sort of declarative statements. For the skeptics, though, this isn’t the title we’re…oh, it’s just not very good.
Header image rights; Disney