Nuke the Fridge was nice enough to compile all known photographs from the Star Wars: Episode VII location shoot at Dubai (which was being used as a stand-in for Tatooine) this past May in one convenient location. When taken in aggregate, there are a number of narrative or production trends that can be spotted, deduced, and, of course, analyzed – enough, just perhaps, to hold us over until the first trailer or poster hits the scene and starts the process over anew.
Below are a few choice shots, selected due to the tantalizing clues embedded within them. For the full, two-dozen shot collection, be sure to visit Nuke the Fridge.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
Paying homage to the original – and prequel – trilogy
When looking at these two pics, one can’t help but immediately be reminded of Episodes IV through VI, with their earth tones, rustic fabrics, and – at least on the surface – simplistic shapes. (Creator and main director George Lucas has said many times over the years that he went out of his way to avoid fashion in the first three installments, opting to make all the characters’ costumes an utilitarian by-product of their do-or-die times. The prequels, obviously, were an entirely different story.)
But take a closer look, and you’ll see that there is an intricacy of design that is clearly above and beyond anything seen from the ‘70s and ‘80s films, particularly in the first photo. It’s obvious on second blush that Episode VII’s costume designer, Michael Kaplan, is deliberately harkening back to the eloquence and explosion of detail that defined the interstellar culture of the prequel era. Trisha Beggar, his counterpart on Episodes I, II, and III, would be most proud.
What with how much director J.J. Abrams and crew have been talking about continuing the style from the first trilogy, it’s nice to see that they haven’t forgotten the second.
Transporting the past to the present
With that said, however, these spy pictures couldn’t make it any more obvious that Episode VII is, at the end of the day, a direct continuation of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, and Abrams and his compatriots will go to any length to make sure you don’t forget it – including directly taking background props from the original films and inserting them in the Tatootine landscape. And, of course, we’d be lying if we said seeing busted-up astromech droids didn’t make us smile.
Taking this one step further, however, is the presence of the audio-animatronic Dewback-esque creature; although it may be a (slightly) new design, the fact that it is physical and made out of old-fashioned servo motors couldn’t be a bigger manifestation of Abrams’s “we’re the old movies!” mantra of filmmaking – and couldn’t be a bigger repudiation of the Special Editions of the original trilogy and, of course, the prequels. Again, having a more tangible-looking film is something we’re not at all against here at Dork Side HQ, but our fears of Abrams tying himself down too much to the past continue to grow, inch by inch.
And we all know that fear is the path to the Dark Side…
Now this is podracing
The biggest surprise of them all is the inclusion of what looks to be the engines from a podracer, which was one of the single biggest elements of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. This can be the result of the Episode VII crew being very keen on keeping continuity with all previous (filmic) iterations of the franchise, particularly if they’re heading back to a city – in this case, Mos Espa – that was already established. (And it would make sense for the new movie’s story to be set there instead of the more [in]famous Mos Eisley from Episode IV: A New Hope, as it’s a far bigger and more bustling urban center.)
Or the prop in question isn’t actually a podracer engine at all and was just designed to evoke that particular design aesthetic from 66 years previously (in story-time, of course). Either way, as with the costumes from the previous pics, it’s nice to see that this latest Star Wars outing is looking to be all-inclusive instead of self-selective.
The still-untitled Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters on December 18, 2015. It stars returning cast members Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker and newcomers John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Max von Sydow, Adam Driver, and Andy Serkis.