The High Republic: this will be the new era of Star Wars | Culture

Detail of the cover of the book 'In the dark', by Claudia Gray
Detail of the cover of the book ‘In the dark’, by Claudia Gray

“For over a thousand generations, Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before these dark times. Before the Empire ”. In those 29 words the promise of a mythical time was condensed, the golden age of Hesiod, where the Jedi were not an almost extinct lineage, but the brand-new guardians of order and justice. This promise has been seen as “a silhouette, a backlight”, according to the author Claudia Gray, during the more than four decades of myth that Star Wars has bequeathed. And now, from his hand, and from dozens of writers and artists, the promise is coming true. The High Republic is the new era in the universe Star Wars, shooting, from now on, novels and comics as the first phase of advancement of what (supposedly) will also end up being movies for theaters and series for the Disney + platform.

It all stems, as Gray emphasizes, from that Obi-Wan quote. “It is that spark of curiosity that we try to capture during the process, which Obi-Wan suggests there. Millions of fans around the world, myself among them, have wondered how we can fulfill that promise, “says the author in an interview with EL PAÍS along with Michael Siglain, the creative director of the franchise at Lucasfilm, or what is himself, the archivist in charge of “volumes and volumes of hundreds of pages of art and history that are updated daily.” The bibles that define, in short, the creed of the Jedi and Sith.

Claudia Gray (sitting in the middle in a black shirt) and Michael Siglain (standing right) meeting with various creatives from in a room at the Skywalker Ranch.
Claudia Gray (sitting in the middle in a black shirt) and Michael Siglain (standing right) meeting with various creatives from in a room at the Skywalker Ranch.

To envision the new republic, Disney made an effort with a striking starting point. During two three-day trips to the mythical Skywalker Ranch — for decades, a macro-complex where George Lucas managed the most advanced companies of his empire, a property to

40 minutes from San Francisco of almost 2,000 hectares and now only permanently houses the sound division, Skywalker Sound — almost a score of creatives came together to define the pillars of this world.

Palimpsests and meditation

Gray remembers that phase of the process with a smile, because the ranch, he says, is “a place designed, in all the breadth of the term, to fire the imagination.” The palimpsests are one of the things that most marked her. “They have this amazing library full of books to stimulate you. Treatises of comparative mythology, underwater photography … Everything. And in them, from time to time, you would find handwritten notes and you would realize that there, on that same page, such an artist from such a film had been inspired by the same thing as you. His tracks were visible ”. Long walks in nature, according to Gray, were essential to settle the ideas of the team of storytellers. “You have to walk from place to place, in this beautiful, natural landscape, and that gives you time to meditate on what we were doing.”

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And what they were doing was planting their own flag in Star Wars. One with different objectives and to a certain extent somewhat irreverent with certain central points of Jedi mythology. Especially in the prequels directed by Lucas, the Jedi manifested (Yoda included) a rigid bureaucracy and a martial state occasioned by the gigantic wars in which they embarked for the Republic, that left little room for freedoms of creed. “Sad to see Yoda turned into a bureaucrat, right? In the prequels, there is a rigidity to the order that does not exist in the High Republic. Each Jedi can express their spiritual relationship with the Force. We even have a type of Jedi, the path walkers (wayseeker in the original), who undertake that spiritual path in their own way, as nomads. “

In Grey’s individual case, his Jedi from the novel In the dark It couldn’t be more atypical. The author compares her character, Reath Silas, with Hermione Granger, the extremely clever and somewhat repulsive companion of Harry Potter. “He is someone who feels more comfortable with a book in his hands. Someone who if you say to him, ‘you have to go to a planet full of dangers’ answers:’ Who, me? Gray argues that in the new stage they have created of Star Wars, by unloading it from the monumental wars (“of billions of contenders”), the range is opened to create characters so they fulfill very atypical roles in the Jedi order. “And we have a lot of matches, too, because it’s fun to write them in narrative. But we can afford a character that can be defined without having to draw the lightsaber the first time. ” Curiously, these literary characters did not stop at what was evoked. Lucasfilm and Disney artists, the same ones who designed the iconic Darth Maul or Queen Amidala, captured in illustrations what the writers were proposing in their words.

The diversity of the cast is one of the points in which more emphasis is placed in this new era of Star Wars. Keeve Trenis, the main protagonist of the Marvel comics line focused on the High Republic, is black and female, with a very contemporary hairstyle (half shaved skull, half hair). And on the penultimate page of the first issue of the comic you can see how very diverse and young Jedi swear their ascription to the order amid smiles and tears and lightsabers at the ready. But what remains, according to LucasArts creative director Michael Siglain, is “escapism”: “Especially in these times, if we can get people to evade, we will have done our job well.”

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