The visual genius of the Star Wars universe is not just about the money shots - the vast views afforded by intergalactic space scenes and epic landscapes of alien planets. What is equally important in creating believability within a fantasy world is the attention to detail. When even everyday items are utilized to encourage viewers to imagine the history and lifestyle that would inspire their invention, narrative becomes richer and movie magic is truly achieved.
It is precisely this reason why a small domestic detail of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, involving Rey's hard earned Jakku dinner, was such a captivating touch from director J.J Abrams. This subtle moment was apparently rather hard work to achieve because, surprisingly, Rey's instantly self-rising bread was created without the use of CGI.
Star Wars opposing factions The Empire and the Rebel Alliance have been represented throughout all seven movies with starkly contrasting visual themes designed to enhance the characteristics of each side. In The Force Awakens, when Rey is introduced, her post-war scavenger lifestyle is shown through her surroundings with an abundance of visual clues. The official story behind the strange expanding bread is that it is scavenged Republic or Imperial military rations.
— Rey (@NoDroidsforMe) January 13, 2016
The Force Awakens visual effects supervisor Chris Corbould has discussed the process of achieving this small but significant scene with MTV News, confirming that practical effects were indeed used, saying, “Surprisingly that was done practically, although so many people have said to me, we thought that was a digital effect!'" He went on to explain the amount of effort and time that went into achieving this brief moment, giving an insight into what it really takes to make a visually authentic Star Wars movie:
“You wouldn’t believe how long it took to actually perfect that one, that little tiny gag in the film... It started off with the mechanics of getting the bread to rise and the liquid to disappear, but then there was the ongoing problem of what color should the bread be? What consistency should it be? Should it have cracks in it? Should it not have cracks in it?... It took about three months. The actual mechanics of it was fairly simple, but the actual cosmetic side took a lot longer.”
These comments should satisfy fans that have been voicing their curiosity about Rey's strange food on social media - although we still do not know what the bread is made from or whether the substance is actually edible. The fan response to what surmounts to only a few seconds of air time in The Force Awakens is testimony that Corbould's hard work was certainly worthwhile, as is the 2016 Oscar nomination for Visual Effects the film has just received.
Charming moments that capture the imagination and show the more humble and grim side to existence within a fictional reality can do so much to transport us into the adventure and aid our enjoyment. Hats off to Corbould and his team for ensuring even the small and quirky effects from The Force Awakens were a visual marvel.
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, and will be followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode 8 on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
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