Andor: Star Wars. Revolutionary expropriators strike at the empire
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The authors of the series did a trick: the Force and laser swords disappeared, and quite realistic imperial gendarmes and new revolutionaries appeared – from thieves to senators.
Disney+'s Star Wars series Andor has already aired seven episodes out of twelve (the latest on November 23). In this version of George Lucas's cinematic universe, a revolutionary upheaval took place: magic and luminous swords disappeared, and instead of a space fairy tale-opera, a thriller appeared about the struggle for freedom against the lawlessness of the Galactic Empire. Both gopniks and rulers became revolutionaries: freedom was not enough for everyone.
The Andor series is a new page in the development of the Star Wars universe
The series “Andor” is far from a myth, but as close as possible to hard psychological realism with a lot of detailed details, as in the American social detective masterpieces “The French Connection” (1971) or “Mississippi on Fire” (1988) – only against the backdrop of space scenery. The authors did an unexpected trick, which can be briefly described as follows: now we will show how it really happened.
“Andor” is a prequel to the feature film “Rogue One” (2016), which tells about Cassian Andor before after he was formed into a revolutionary from a gopnik and a rogue. Moreover, actor Diego Luna played his character in Rogue One when he was five years older than he was in Andor.
In the universe of George Lucas, where the eternal confusion with temporary “episodes”, this is not surprising. And the showrunner and screenwriter of the series, Tony Gilroy (“The Bourne Identity”), who completely changed the style of George Lucas, was really struck. From the mix of science fiction and fantasy, he removed the second component – including the laser swords of the Jedi and the Force – both Dark and Light. Everything here is as realistic as possible – and only on a physical level. Not even a hint of magic. Therefore, fantasy is rather poor: either a ram with four horns, or a surgeon with four arms – that's all the mutants.
But the film is replete with dozens of amusing details of everyday life, and all the characters are perfectly written, we see a gallery of intelligible characters: an experienced recidivist thief, a dumb careerist policeman with a strong-willed mother, a swindler with a good heart, a self-satisfied official of the highest rank, leading a double life of an antiquarian millionaire, cheeky rogue cops. And all this – against the backdrop of panoramas of different planets, devoid of a romantic flair, as well as space stations and cars – all this is technically excellently done, but with references to our today's reality. For example, you can see a flying modification of the Rolls-Royce – it certainly belongs to the imperial senator.
Clear directing, deliberate everydayness, accuracy of colors. Instead of magic – social fiction. The bottoms are planetary natives, the middle segment is cops, workers, artisans, then imperial officers, the tops are a family of senators. Even the robots are presented with maximum documentation. The viewer in the course of action easily switches along the entire social scale: up and down, watching the development of the plot.
We see how the revolution is born and why. This topic is close to Ukraine because of our northern neighbor – with an overgrown pseudo-imperialism, as a result of which a war broke out and now the Armed Forces of Ukraine are forced to solve this problem. As for tightening the screws in Russia, a similar process in the Galactic Empire is clearly explained by the IT revolutionary: “The methods and pace of oppression changed so quickly that we did not notice how we were losing freedom more and more until there was none left at all”.
Here is the main motive – why such different people ended up in a sabotage detachment -robbers whose task is to empty the imperial cash vault. They often quarrel, with difficulty rubbing against each other. And they hire an experienced robber Andor so that the expropriation is successful. He seems to be an inconspicuous figure, but he will kill – he will not blink an eye. Andor's trump card – quick reaction.
Hires Andor Luten Rael – a member of the Rebel Alliance, working as an antique dealer – a supplier of space rarities and curiosities for wealthy imperial clients. Luten is a middle-aged, powerful man who can subdue anyone. In his role is the incomparable Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard, whose Boris Shcherbina, chairman of the Commission for the Elimination of the Consequences of the Chernobyl Accident, simply struck sparks in the cult TV series Chernobyl (2019). Skarsgård perfectly portrays his two identities here: a tough underground rebel leader and an obligingly bohemian antiques dealer.
There is not much fantasy in the series, but there is a fantastically powerful effect of presence. Perhaps this is the right tactical move: the June series of the Star Wars universe – “Obi-Wan Kenobi” – after bright social fiction at the start, was ruined by a childishly naive ending, where Lucas's fantasy elements (Dark and Light side of the Force) were brought to ridiculous parodies.
In terms of atmosphere, Andor is close to American social dramas about the 1960s and 1970s, such as The French I Connect (1971) or Mississippi on Fire (1988) with Gene Hackman: harsh a reality that requires difficult decisions to be made extremely quickly. This attracts the viewer, willy-nilly, completely immersed in what is happening. This is facilitated by the magnificent music of Nicholas Britell (“12 Years a Slave”, “Cruella”), which does not speculate with symphonic inserts a la John Williams, but is quite original and varied.
The Andor series is a new page in development Star Wars.