Technology Advances in The Force Awakens
In this article SWNN staff Bluestreaking shares how he enjoyed the way JJ and company made a point to show how technology had developed in the 30 years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. In case you couldn’t guess, for those who have yet to the see the film there are definite SPOILERS on the way.
Immediately we were granted a tangible difference between old and new. Luke’s old macrobinoculars which could barely make out some Banthas at point blank range were replaced with Poe’s which vividly captured the approaching First Order forces. Grainy images replaced by crisp outlines, before I even realized this would become one of my favorite aspects of the film I noticed the difference. But I truly began to notice the change during Poe and Finn’s daring escape from the Finalizer.
As you can see here the old single-seat TIE Fighters give us some lovely red lines that resemble an X-Wing. The dual-seater that Finn and Poe commandeer gave a lifelike thermal image of their targets for Finn to fire at. Targeting software should of course be one of the main advancements in military technology but the lack of distinction presented to us between the PT and OT left this advancement without precedent. Also of note was a very different method of control for the turrets here, one that become more pronounced when Finn was placed in a more familiar (to the audience at least) gunner’s seat.
As soon as Finn hops into the gunner’s seat he is startled by the clunky and hard to manage controls, and while he doesn’t say as much I am certain he missed the clear targeting computer of the TIE Fighter. On a side note I finally figured out how those darned targeting computers on the Falcon worked, so a big thanks to Finn for figuring that out for me. But there is only one technological advance that was so noticeable that it fooled several us viewers when first presented with it.
We had gotten used to holograms being blue and grainy and it appeared they had been that way for decades, at least that’s what the PT showed us. Thus when Snoke is first seen on his throne many of us assumed that Snoke happened to be 25 feet tall. Never before had we seen holograms depicted as so lifelike in the Star Wars universe with the light playing off of it and little to no graininess. The switching off the hologram was the moment that I knew I had decided on my favorite part of TFA. JJ and co had used technological advancement not only as a natural difference between films but as a storytelling device in itself.
We think back to our own lives and imagine how much technology has changed in 30 years it should be expected that we are shown the same sort of advancement in the Star Wars universe. Too often worlds are built with stagnant technology but JJ has shown us that his vision of Star Wars is not limited by such convention. It was something I felt was lacking in the Prequel Trilogy which depicted an aesthetic of an older time by evoking the Italian Renaissance/Baroque periods but little in the way of actual noticeable differences.