I have nothing against shooting movies on digital. There are certain effects and shots that you can only achieve by using this format, and it’s allowing great filmmakers to push the boundaries of what they can do with the art.
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That being said, one side effect of the boon of digital is the decline of good old-fashioned 35mm film stock. Except for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, all the Star Wars movies were shot in this format. That’s why J.J. Abrams’ announcement that The Force Awakens would shoot on 35mm was a welcome surprise, as the film tries to emulate various aspects of what made the original trilogy so great.
Although it was uncertain whether the rest of the new Star Wars canon would continue that trend, this latest piece of news seems to confirm that it’s a priority for the filmmakers. Star Wars Episode VIII director Rian Johnson commented on Twitter that his contribution to the universe would be shot on 35mm for “some specific, logistical reasons.”
It’s an encouraging sign to see Johnson embrace the format for the new films. I was hoping the look of the new trilogy would at least move away from the glossy sheen of the prequels, which popped in some scenes but also gave off an antiseptic look for the universe.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it shouldn’t be used in Star Wars again, just that Lucas didn’t take advantage like he should. It’s been announced that Rogue One will be filmed at 6K resolution, but it’s perfectly logical for the Anthology films to have a different aesthetic than the core trilogies.
Also, how cool is it that this came out through Johnson replying to a fan’s question on Twitter? Episode VIII will likely be the secondmost well-guarded movie shoot in history, yet we learned a vital piece of information through an offhand remark on social media.
I think it speaks to Johnson’s down-to-earth nature that comes across in his interviews, and his appreciation and respect for the fans of the franchise.