Production on the long-awaited, oft-discussed Star Wars: Episode VII is currently rolling along in the deserts around Abu Dhabi. If you missed it, the film just added two new actors to the cast, Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong’o and Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie. Because this film is a J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm, Disney joint, secrecy is going to be paramount. They waited so long to announce anything official that we were starting to suspect there was no movie and they were just spreading rumors. Now a massive gallery of behind the scenes photos has leaked out of the security-heavy set, and you can bet that pisses people off something fierce. We doubt whoever took these snapshots, and subsequently sold them, is going to have much of a future working in Hollywood.
We’re also not going to touch these photos with the proverbial ten-foot-pole. They came from TMZ and we don’t feel like getting the living hell sued out of us (or more likely a cease and desist letter, but those are a bummer, too). But here’s what you should do. Take a few minutes to peruse the more than 40 pictures HERE, and come back so we can discuss the matter further, because there is a great deal to talk about.
Now that you’re back, obviously after having closely examined those photos at great length, what did you think? I have to admit, though the prequels left me a little gun shy—I know I’m not the only one with similar feelings—it’s hard not to get excited about the prospects of Episode VII when you look at these.
The biggest thing you walk away with is that there are going to be a ton of practical special effects. After the empty, soulless CGI of Episodes I-III, this is heartening to see. How excited are you to see that giant pig-nosed boar-thing in action? It supposedly takes five human puppeteers to work the contraption, and we like the sound of that. It looks similar in style and construction to the little dude that appears in that video Abrams release a while back.
We already knew that Abu Dhabi was going to be the stand in for Luke Skywalker’s home world of Tatooine, and these pictures definitely confirm that. The sun-scorched desert planet has always played a central role in the larger Star Wars mythology, and it’s nice to know that will continue into the future. All of the actors and extras pictured look suitably grubby and wind worn to be people who live in such an environment. Even if they are all mugging for the camera.
The machinery and structures fall into the same category. You definitely believe that these ramshackle constructions have been outside during sandstorms and the like. If nothing else, what you see here looks and feels like the sets and props from the original trilogy, and that’s enough to warm even the most jaded Star Wars fan’s heart.
The film is scheduled to film in Abu Dhabi for a few more weeks before jumping to London’s Pinewood Studios. Star Wars: Episode VII opens everywhere December 18, 2015.