My Han Solo Story – A Fan’s Reaction to The Force Awakens

New_Logo

The following is a guest contribution from our friend James Fuqua.

Riley Blanton – Editor in Chief – Star Wars Report

——————————————————————————————————————————–

My Reaction to a Certain Watermark Moment in The Force Awakens (Spoilers Ahead)

han.solo_

Han Solo has always been my favorite character in the Star Wars galaxy. He represented a confidence and assertiveness that I’d always wished I had. Knowing he was still out there after ROTJ going on further adventures with Chewie in the Falcon made me feel so happy and in some weird way secure. When I saw him die, especially in the way he did, I went numb.

14

I knew that he would probably die in this film for the reasons we all already know (Harrison Ford and Lawrence Kasdan saying he thought Han should have died in ROTJ, Ford not being signed on for VIII and IX, etc.). I’m not saying he shouldn’t have died. I think it was a good choice for the story. But seeing someone die like that, someone I’ve admired and loved all my life, my favorite scoundrel, I took it a lot harder than I thought I would. The rest of the film was slow motion for me. My girlfriend and I left the theatre and I wasn’t talking. She kept asking what was wrong and I wouldn’t talk because I didn’t want to erupt in tears there in the theatre in front of all those people. Im a 6’1″ 250 lb bearded guy. That’s not a good look. She thought I hated the movie. We went out to the car and I just cried. I was telling her how hard I took Han’s death and seeing Chewbacca grieving after the battle. Even now, while writing this, it makes me emotional. She comforted me and I was feeling better after a while.

11

What really vexed me was how, after the film, everyone else in the lobby and whatnot were laughing and yelling and it was just a general sense of jubilation, and I get it. It was a great movie. But I also couldn’t believe I was the only one in the state I was in. I was practically a basket case! I could barely contain myself. But I suppose we all deal with grief in our own ways.

That being said, my new favorite character in this film by far is Poe Dameron. He was only in the film a relatively short amount of time compared to Finn and Rey, but Oscar Isaac made that character come to life! He was so amazing. Funny and confident and a real mensch! I realized I loved him so much because he was like Han. He’s our new Han Solo! I hope to see a lot more of him and follow his adventures the same way I did with Han.

Powered by
  • https://edwardsedition.wordpress.com/ Derek Edwards

    But Harrison Ford is signed on for Episode VIII.

    • The Star Wars Report

      That may be because there could be flash back scenes, though I don’t know. I wouldn’t get my hopes up though… he was stabbed, fell into a bottomless pit, and then that bottomless pit exploded and turned into a sun….
      ~Bethany

      • https://edwardsedition.wordpress.com/ Derek Edwards

        Darth Maul was cut in half, and he went on to conquer Mandalore.

  • http://aeiouwhy.blogspot.com/ Dex

    I knew it was coming the second he started out on that hand rail-less walkway. What really got me wasn’t the actual death, but the reactions of Chewie and Leia.

    • The Star Wars Report

      Oh man! Those parts get me too. Plus Rey’s reaction, since she was starting to see Han almost like a father figure to her since they connected so well.

      ~Bethany

  • Zarm

    This was the transition point when I went from boyhood glee revisited to such a complete, utter loathing that I’m having a hard time remembering just how much I was loving the movie beforehand. The whole ending fell flat for me, in a multitude of ways… and I can’t help but wonder how much of it is due to a death that I repeatedly reassured my hesitant-in-case-they-killed-one-of-the-beloved-characters wife “Don’t worry; absolutely NO ONE would be stupid enough to kill off an OT character in the reintroduction to the franchise; in Ep. 8 or 9, maybe, but not a chance they’d alienate people that way on their first outing.”

    (With the caveat, of course, that I’m pretty sure it’ll be about 2 years before I know what I really think of the movie; the same-day impressions are seldom the lasting ones. But my on-the-day reaction is that this was a terrible move, and the film lacked the cathartic, triumphant punch of a heroic climax to counterbalance it.)

    I wonder if this will become the rallying cry for Bring Back Legends; “Bring Back Legends- WE still have Han!” 😉

    • The Star Wars Report

      Hey Zarm!

      Wow, it sounds like you had a pretty emotional reaction too! When we took a bunch of family members to see it, they had been laughing out loud multiple times throughout the film. At this point, they fell dead silent, and didn’t laugh much afterwards.

      I love The Force Awakens, and though I wish Han had lived, I don’t see it as a major story telling or movie making mistake. In a way, I think this movie ended more like Empire because of that, because we’re left with tragedy, and fear, going into Episode 8.

      I left the theater in a bit of a shock the first time I watched it, and enjoyed it far more with later viewings, I think largely because I was saddened by the death of Han. That said, I sure hope Luke and Leia survive this trilogy.

      ~Bethany

      • Zarm

        That’s part of the trouble for me; to me, tragedy has no place in Star Wars (which is part of why I so thoroughly reject the prequels and the deplorable tone they brought to the entire franchise for a decade).

        But, even if you accept the concept, I think it was a major mistake nonetheless. I don’t *like* the death of Han, but I think that it could have been a valid story choice, if it had been correctly handled.

        Firstly, this was not a tragic movie. Taking a sudden swerve ino a horrifically brutal death was emotionally jarring. Revenge of the Sith was a tragedy, but at least it was set up that way. This was more akin to watch 105 minutes of Flash Gordon, then suddenly splicing in the last 15 of Schindler’s List. (Okay, a little bit of hyperbole to make a point…) The tone was not tragic, so injecting sudden tragedy into an adventure-romp was extremely out-of-place.

        Secondly, the ending did not compensate for it. Yes, Empire had a darker ending, but it still had that moment of cathartic triumph (R2 fixing the hyperdrive), and ended hopefully with the heroes together, enacting the start of a plan to save Han. It was not a tone of suspense, or fear, but of trepidation and hope. (Now, even that kind of ending would, for me, be a poor choice to close out the first act of a new trilogy; this one was even worse. Being left with tragedy and fear? What the ^#@*&^$&*# kind of Star Wars is that?). Attack of the Clones, by contrast, had a quieter, more ominous ending with no major heroic/cathartic moment… but they hadn’t killed anyone or had a moment of major tragedy to come back from, either.

        Having the death of a major character, followed by an underwhelming and phyrric climax to the battle, followed by quiet moments and a quiet finale, is a mistake. Star Wars has had each of those elements- but never *together.* (Save, arguably, Revenge of the Sith, but… really? This movie is not Revenge of the Sith. It is completely atonal (and a terrible idea for a new generation’s introduction to Star Wars) to end a movie so like A New Hope in tone with a sudden swerve into Revenge of the Sith’s darkness). You can have the dark ending (like Qui-Gon’s death, or Luke’s confrontation with Vader), but it needs a triumphant catharsis to counterbalance. (Anakin destroying the control ship, and the end celebration; R2 fixing the hyperdrive). OR, you can have a downer ending (Dooku defeats them and escapes, the Clone Wars start) so long as you haven’t had any major preceeding tragedy. You can’t have both at the same time.

        It’s kind of like how onions, salt, and garlic are all valid ingredients as part of larger recipies… but if you put them, and only them, together into one recipie, it will have you clawing at your tongue and gasping for water.

        For me, that was Han’s death; it could have worked, but it was the wrong tone for the movie that it was written into, and it lacked the required opimism on the other end to balance it out. Even a more celebratory destruction of Starkiller base- less sustained, more cheering and fanfare- might have been enough. As it was, ‘R2 woke up for no reason’ didn’t do the trick (only served as a reminder of how poorly everyone from the OT *but* Han (and 3PO) had been used in the film), and going to find Luke didn’t serve as the optimistic, ESB-style ending, either, as it was left ambiguous and mysterious; uncertain and unfullfilled. It left on an unresolved note rather than a joyful or hopeful one. And to me, that’s why Han’s death was the turning point; it was an emotiuonal curveball the movie up to that point had not properly set up, and it threw the emotional tenor into a nosedive that the movie never pulled out of well enough to end satisfactorily.

        A great movie over all… but poor filmmaking for the last 15 minutes. They just screwed up the tone, it’s as simple as that. For my money, it is still a great film up to that point, but it is flawed because of the ending. I’m glad for others that are able to enjoy it more… but I still think it was an absolute miscalculation in crafting the film.

        • The Star Wars Report

          But tragedy does have a place in Star Wars, both the OT and the PT. In the first film of each trilogy, we see the death of the mentor/guide character. Old Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and now Han. It’s very much a part of the Hero’s Journey. For me, when I watched The Phantom Menace, and ANH, both deaths were jarring. In the OT, just when Vader is redeemed, he dies, and that was a tragedy. Luke’s aunt and uncle (who are basically his parents) die horrible, jarring deaths. That doesn’t make any of the SW movies tragedies for me (except ROTS), but movies with tragedies in them.

          We are left with tragedy and fear leading us into Episode 8, but I failed to point out that we’re left with hope too. Firstly, Starkiller base was destroyed, which was a triumph (if hard won). Secondly, and almost more importantly, we end with Rey finding Luke, which is a moment (at least for me) of very poignant hope. Hope for the resistance, hope for Rey and Leia, hope for light side, and hope for the galaxy. For me this shot worked so much better than the triumph of celebration at the end of TPM, for instance, or even, in some ways, than the triumphant celebration at the end of ANH, because Luke means so much to me, that the ending brought as much if not more emotion, hope, and YES IT’S LUKE feelings of excitement!!! Admittedly, I was reeling too much from the death of Han the first time around to feel that way.

          If you think about it, the reason why the tragedy strikes us so hard in this film as opposed to the OT is because we’ve lived with the character of Han for so long. For some people, for decades. We didn’t have the same level of attachment with Obi-Wan when he perished. We do now, but we already know he dies, so the blow is softened.

          Han’s death does serve a purpose, though we may not yet know it. He finally came to terms with what happened with his son, and was willing to face him (even if that turned into being the wrong decision). It may also be the catalyst for Ben Solo’s character into fully transforming into a Darth Vader like, true villain who ceases to feel so pulled towards the light side. Or, it could wind up driving him back to the light, when he understands how truly horrible, and empty a thing it was to do. Kylo is triumphant when he kills Han because he thinks it makes him strong, completing his path to the dark side. But, what will happen when he sees that Rey doesn’t have to kill anyone and yet she’s powerful? What happens when it finally dawns on him that you don’t have to be evil, or devoid of emotion, to be strong?

          I think TFA is almost too much for Star Wars fans who’ve been fans for a long, long time, because we’ve almost had too much time with the characters, too much time for the older films to grow on us, becoming more and more familiar with us, that TFA becomes jarring. With more familiarity, (or maybe 2 years as you say), I think some fans will actually enjoy it more than they did the first few times/few weeks.

          I know that I definitely didn’t enjoy the film as much the first time, because everything that was similar to previous films was like deja vu, and everything that was different was jarring, or in the case of Han’s death, just left me stunned.

          Anywho, just some more thoughts on it. It’s not something I’ve fully processed through either.

          ~Bethany

          • Zarm

            I think your first paragraph hits the distinction correctly; there is a place for tragic events, but not an overall tone of tragedy. To me, TFA crosses from the former into the latter, wrongly. You make good points, but I can’t help but feel that the sense of hope or triumph was not communicated in a way through the film to adequately counterbalance Han’s death, as they were after Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Vader’s deaths. They existed intellectually, but not emotionally. (And of course, the ending with Luke was a ‘your mileage may vary’ instance, since that was not so much hope as anticipation, and not particularly cathartic since it was sort of the expected end of the movie.)

            I guess, to put it somewhat clumsily, ANH, TPM, and ROTJ both had a pound of tragic, and a five pounds of triumph… and the triumph came after, to wash away the lingering taste of the tragedy so that it is not what the film ended on. Even ESB had basically an equal pound of both balancing the scales. Where as TFA ended with a pound of tragedy and only an ounce of triumph. The bad outweighed the good, the taste was not washed away, and a film that had been in ‘adventure’ mode suddenly shifted gears into something that the audience hadn’t been prepared for and the film hadn’t laid groundwork for… and then the film never shifted *back* before the ending. To me, that just made it jarring.

            Anyhow, I think I’ve restated that point about three times no, so I will refrain from doing so anymore. As I said, I’m glad you enjoyed it; I certainly want to see it a few more times myself to ruminate on the tone (but thanks to budget and babysitting requirements, probably won’t be able to until the DVD release). My first impression was simply ‘that ended wrong for Star Wars; the movie wasn’t ready to go there,’ and so far, that has remained the lingering impression of the movie which, unfortunately, blocks out pretty much everything that came before. It’s like the movie fell to the Dark Side for the last act… and they neglected to have it redeemed before the credits rolled. :-)

  • Robert Vogel

    The Force Awakens:

    Before i begin my comments about the movie, i must say i’m fan when i was 8 years and i’m now 45, i, just like a lot of other people where seized by the sci fi flu.
    I have a small dvd/blu ray store in my house, so you can say i have seen a lot of movies good and bad.

    Sci fi is one of my favorite choices in film because of all the fantastic imagination people put in it.

    I’m still a fan of Star Wars but i got a lot of questions about this movie, i also like people to know what they think about my view of the movie and my questions.
    Am i right or wrong?

    1- What have the Rebel forces done in all those years, I only saw some X-wing fighters none big battle ships or shipyards they could have build in all those years, where were they?

    2- Why not make a very good new story of the come back of the surviving Jedi’s and new younglings in training, instead make a remake of A new hope?

    3- Why make a Deathstar planet that could have whipe out everything, and was so easily destroyed in this movie, and why that, come with some originality, like the first Order was a big Armada the last line of defends with some kick ass new technology in ships, weapons,new AT-AT’s,new Tie Figthers,Commando Stormtroopers with cool arms and gadgets, hell bring a Army of cool Boba Fets (Mandalorians) in it.

    4- What’s it with all the overacting and bad choices of lines, come on you guys, you all had so much years to think about it, so long time to do your research in comics and asking Fans what they would like in the new Star Wars movie,none i see back in this movie.( check dark horse comics Star Wars Dark Empire!!!!)that was a cool storyline to begin with,could be better, but is much better than this storyline, no surprising plots in this movie,totally crap, so much better in the comics or even the animation series like Star Wars Clone Wars,Star Wars Rebels are so much better than this movie.

    5- Were was the action action of the First Order Stormtroopers, was that it?
    They are supposed to be the first Order of Kick Ass Stormtroopers, the end of the line, the last defense for the Sith, but also where were the Rebels?

    So many years to build up a kick ass army of soldier rebels to fight back, ships, battlecruisers,you name it, and still they are now a smaller army?????

    6- Why didn’t the movie begin with what happened all those years?
    then you could fill out all the blanks and questions what you now get by all the fans in the world!!!!!for sure the Hardcore Fans.

    7- Why let Han Solo die in such a predictable way, come on, no wonder he was acting so bad, if you let him die like this?and in the first movie?one of the favorite character in the whole Star Wars Universe?was that wise?

    8- Why make the Kylo Ren figure such a weak character?he could stop a blaster ray in midair,and he has daddy issues ????? you must have a good mental state of mind to do that!!!and all so training for years.
    Why didn’t he act that he was a very bad ass Sith, and why his face, you know that people are sensitive how a bad ass figure must look like, don’t you guys?
    it’s all about the looks,the acting, the moving,the voice, check out vin diesel, that would have been a kick ass Dark Lord of the Sith.

    How about i do a remake of gladiator and let pee wee herman do the gladiator.

    How in, yeah i will say it,gods name did those guys and females supervise the movie?

    About that, a female commander Stormtrooper, First Order, who was so easily subdued by the rebels and put in the trash compactor so easily, i thought it would be a kick ass commander, she is much better in game of thrones then this.

    they suddenly want to make everybody happy and put some feminism in this movie?oooohhhhhh come on you guys,this is Star Wars, get your shit together.

    9- so you can see i’m quite critical in my movies, i have seen a lot, but how is JJ going to fix this ???
    Is he more a Star Trek Fan?and you let this opportunity slide?JJ?
    This movie sets the motion for Star Wars 8 and 9 and i must honestly say, after i saw the movie i saw more and more flaws.

    You can do that in Star Trek because you made another time line, but this is a follow up.

    Maybe young people will like it who have never seen Star Wars, but i think it’s a dissapointing movie for a lot of hardcore fans in the world, who made Star Wars a Culture thing and have put a lot of money and time in it i think.

    The only way this movie was viewed so much and made money this much, is because everybody wanted to know, also me.

    JJ, if you read this, i think you have been under a lot of stress, or you like Star Trek better than Star Wars, you must come with a Hell of a good, no a Incredible Fantastic Star Wars 8 and 9 to convince me to go to the cinema for that.

    10- My advise will be, do your research with the hardcore fans, read a lot of star wars comics and see the other star wars movies again, over and over.

    If i would have make a follow up of an epic movie, i would do research, why is this movie so good to make another one, not only the special effects or bring old actors back, what made them thick, i can say it in a few words like a kid would do.

    watch this: Fantastic Space ships, epic space battles with fantastic space ships,jedi’s,epic battles with jedi’s,kick ass bad guy or girl / woman,mercenaries,fantastic plots, surprising elements,put some more pauses in the movie, let the people enjoy some scenery,good fight scene’s ( not a stormtrooper doing kung-fu with a tong fa),don’t do a rip off ,of the first movie,big ground battles with big war machines like the AT-AT or other Machines, things or machines that can transform,cool heroes.( not a girl who talks so british in a american movie that it is irritating).

    After you got all that, then a kick ass story line, with some kick ass actors.

    I had a lot more to say, but these were some main topics.

    Greetings from Holland

    • The Star Wars Report

      Hey Robert, thanks for the long comment! First I’ll have to mention I’ll have to delete your comment shortly because we have a policy of keeping the comments section at a PG level (like most of the Star Wars films). But I did want to respond to your points!

      But I did want to say, many of the “plot holes” you mention aren’t actually plot holes. I’ve seen the film five times now, and each time I noticed something that explained what I had previously not understood or thought to be a plot hole, just because the film is subtle, and not all the editing does a great job of explaining things.

      For instance, the Resistance (formerly the Rebels) led by General Leia is really small because they’re like freedom fighters. The new Republic government is large, and has a whole fleet of ships, but those ships get destroyed when Starkiller base blows up the planet system that the Republic capital is in. So, they did have a large military, but it was destroyed.

      As to it being like a reboot, I’ve heard this article does a good job of discussing that aspect, but haven’t read it myself yet: http://mashable.com/2015/12/23/force-awakens-is-no-remake/#2Gaizvc9usqa

      To make a movie about the surviving Jedi and the younglings in trailing, the actors who play Luke, Leia, and Han would probably have to be younger for it to make sense….

      It makes sense for the First Order to create the Starkiller base as their home base in part because they greatly admire the Empire, and want to emulate them. Similarly, they’re going to stick to Stormtroopers, but just train them better. That’s why the troopers are shown to be trained in melee combat as well as blasters. If you watch the movie lots of times you notice a lot more action between the Resistance fighters and the First Order stormtroopers, there just aren’t a ton of shots of it since the film focuses more on the main characters. Kylo Ren is a much weaker character than Darth Vader precisely because he’s living in the shadow of Darth Vader, like the First Order is living in the shadow of the Empire. The First Order and Kylo Ren are obsessed with bringing back the Empire and being like Darth Vader, and that actually hurts them and makes them more insecure. To me this made Kylo a very interesting character because he’s so different. I wonder if he’ll become more powerful after Snoke finishes training him.

      I know a lot of research was done for the movie, including going through the books and comics. It shows because of how similar Kylo is to Jacen Solo in the books, and has Ben’s name, like in the books, for instance. I actually really liked Rey’s accent because it reminded me of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s accent.

      Leaving fans with questions to ask is far preferable than answering the questions, because if we had all our questions answered, why would we bother seeing episode 8 and 9?

      Lastly, there was SO much going on in the film that I think the more times you see it the more you start to piece together things. BUT, I know they cut a good 15-20 minutes of footage from the final film. I really hope we see a special edition or director’s cut with all that extra footage. I think that would explain more things.

      ~Bethany