Whelp, looks like it’s finally almost official. The Obi Wan Kenobi movie might still not have been officially announced by Lucasfilm or Disney, but with The Hollywood Reporter announcing that Stephen Daldry is in early talks to direct the picture, it’s worth assuming that this movie is actually happening.
Just as we all kind of expected.
Ewan McGregor’s been eager for a while now to step back into the brown boots of Obi Wan Kenobi for his own spin-off movie, and fans have been just as eager to see it happen. Even if Disney hadn’t been planning on this as an anthology movie from the start, it’s hard to see how they would have avoided such a good idea forever.
Most people have surmised that the best story to tell is of Obi Wan’s post-Revenge of the Sith exile, filling in a gap between Episode III and Episode IV of the saga, as the once-famous Jedi watches over Luke Skywalker on the desert planet of Tatooine.
This definitely feels like the best way to take this movie, but if Lucasfilm is going to go through with it, they’ll need to resist the urge to throw an enormous budget at the film.
Yes, that’s right, the Obi Wan Kenobi movie shouldn’t be a big, expensive spectacle. The cheaper the film’s production, the better.
For anyone who’s seen a Star Wars film, one thing is certain: these movies are all special effects juggernauts.
The Disney movies aren’t perhaps quite as innovative as the George Lucas movies, but both the prequels and the original trilogy pioneered a lot of technology that we consider commonplace in the modern era – greenscreens, computer effects, and even advanced puppet work and model explosions were all revolutionary at the time that these various films were created. As such, most people think of Star Wars as being inseparable from big budget spectacle.
The Obi Wan movie, though, shouldn’t be a big spectacle. It should be small, quiet, and understated. The kind of movie that Disney struggles to make because its executives equate big budgets with high box office takings.
If you look back at the original Star Wars (only titled A New Hope after the fact), there’s a lot of different ideas and themes from classic cinema, all mixed in together.
We get a spacey shoot-out first, which is fun, followed by a long, introspective period in the desert. George Lucas threw together the cowboy and samurai genres together to create an east-inspired Western with both science fiction and fantasy elements.
There are sprawling shots of sandy dunes, long moments of quiet, and a sense of isolation and emptiness that we don’t get in most subsequent Star Wars movies (excepting The Force Awakens, which pays tribute to this as part of its scenes of Rey’s life on Jakku).
There’s a lot of beauty in the Tatooine scenes of A New Hope that we haven’t seen much of again throughout the Star Wars saga. The perfect approach to the Obi Wan movie would involve picking this concept up and running with it for a small, isolated, personal story that plays out much like a classical Western.
For this to work, we don’t need any planet-hopping. We don’t need some big, grand, Imperial plot. Just Obi Wan, rubbing up against the scum and villainy of Tatooine, facing off against Hutt land barons or raiders, as he questions what the purpose of his life is now that the Jedi order is in ruins.
This shouldn’t need a huge budget – the smaller the better. A plane ticket to Tunisia for the cast and crew, some creature costumes that make things look cool, and an afternoon of ILM’s time putting lightsaber glow effects onto the final edit.
A smaller film would mean more scope for experimentation and deviation from the standard Disney Star Wars formula. It would be the perfect opportunity to see what happens when Lucasfilm makes genre pieces within the Star Wars framework, instead of making less original movies that work as shadows of the original trilogy of films.
Here’s hoping Lucasfilm doesn’t turn the Obi Wan movie into a big, expensive, planet-hopping affair. A small character piece is far more fitting of Ewan McGregor’s character, and in this case, a cheap film has more potential to show audiences something new than a big budget blockbuster ever could.