Andor, or a Star Wars in the galaxy of our present

The first season of Andor – 12 episodes on Disney+ – has just ended and there is a question that recurs on the net: Andor really Star Wars? Well, before explaining why in my opinion Andorbesides being a masterpiece of its kind, it is the only one Star Wars that it made sense to see in 2022, this so-called issue is worth addressing. If, after nauseous things like Kenobiinstead of wondering how it was possible to have wasted actors of the caliber of Ewan McGregorone wonders if Andor be it right Star Wars, is the symptom of a substantial problem. Why overthrow Cassian (the protagonist of Andor) out of heresy is indecent: as if shooting the series of a franchise had to necessarily consist in repeating certain styles, certain atmospheres, certain narrative mechanisms as they are.

And then down with the various «Where is the light-heartedness of Star Wars? – But where have all the droids and all the aliens gone? – Where are the dandyish space battles? – Where are the Force, the jedi and the lightsabers?». This type of criticism, this way of thinking according to which one must first of all – even before enjoying the qualities, when there are any as in this case, of the novelty – compare a new thing to the past, “to tradition”, and start counting the shortcomings – because shortcomings, when the past is placed on a divine pedestal, are always immense, infinite, unbridgeable – has a precise name: conservatism.

It is the idea behind the desire to put labels – Star Wars or not Star Wars? Fantasy or sci-fi? Adventure or swashbuckling? – which must have guided Lucas himself into the craziness of the prequels. Which, in fact, put him in the position of having to resurrect the myth he invented himself in order to give fans exactly what they expected. And so, here are many Jedi with the same tunics of old Ben Kenobi, custodians of the deepest wisdom of the galaxy, who send an Anakin – the chosen one – eighteen years old, who has never seen a girl in his life, to guard the body a Natalie Portman (carnal love, attachment, as we know, is the automatic checkout of the dark side).

The same Jedi who, in the incredible Episode 1, ransomed little Anakin – the prophecy says he will save the galaxy – bartering him for a moped but leaving his sweet mother in the hands of the slaver, because they don’t have another moped (come back to redeem her the next day , with a luxury spaceship, to lodge her in a luxury hotel on Coruscant it wasn’t worth it), only to then tell the child, more powerful than any other force user ever seen (it will be Darth Vader, eh), that inside him there it’s so scary. Not to mention the face of Obi Wan who, knowing that every night Anakin dreams of his mother dying (the poor thing who, ten years earlier, had been left in chains on Tatooine, the criminal planet), discovers that, left alone with Natalie Portman, Anakin went to Tatooine: «But what did he go to do there?», says Ewan McGregor stroking a beard that makes him look a lot like Alec Guinness. To finish with the most sensational coincidence in galactic history: when the Jedi discover that they are building the deadliest army in the universe on behalf of but without the knowledge of the Republic – the down payment had been given by a certain dead man years before – by cloning the arm right hand of the leader of the villains (and nothing, the Jedi will kill the very bad right arm but they will start acting as generals of the great army that will eventually, and rightly, kill them).

In short, there is more intelligence, humanity and poetry in the shy, affectionate, reserved droid of Cassian than in all the characters of the prequel trilogy (plus those of Alone And Kenobi). And the crazy thing is that the droid is not alone: ​​all the characters from Andor, even the extras who tip off the Empire or who regret having made it, are real, contradictory, suffering, capable of arousing empathy. Dark and breathtaking characters like nocturnal landscapes illuminated by luminescent rivers of asteroids, torn by spaceship engines and blaster shots, dragged by an intricate, innervated, tumultuous plot that connects every detail, every politics, every emotion.

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The title is Andorthe protagonist of the story is him, Cassian (Diego Luna). But the truth is that this series shapes an ensemble story as even the best cinema only rarely manages to do. A complex story, where the protagonist is nothing but the tip of a comet whose wake is no less luminous, indeed. Mon Mothma, the intrigues of the palace, the doubts and fears of a strong, just, yet fragile woman who is trying to build a military force on her own to fight evil – the real one, which can be seen: here the Empire does truly fear, just like the forces in our world that are gaining new strength with every passing minute, and about which there is very little to joke about – all this is simply exceptional. With her, every look, every mechanism, even those that desperate prisoners assemble on Narkina 5, a prison-factory that makes even the chilling penitentiary of 2013 The fortress, open new horizons, regenerating the entire universe born around Star Wars over almost half a century of movies, books, comics, board games. Giving everything a new, deep, real meaning, capable of touching us as it is sacrosanct that every work of art – is cinema or is it not the seventh art? – must do.

Because Star Wars was the masterpiece of 1977, another era, another world, while Andor try to be the masterpiece of 2022: for this reason everything changes, the tone, the tenor, the rhythm change. Because it tries to transform the Empire, the Rebellion, the far distant galaxy that we all know, in a way to tell about us, about this time, about our anxieties – Andor, an orphan of a clean, simple, naive planet that does not trust no one, in a corrupt and dark world. Giving us splendid, dark sequences and music, which for visual and emotional power equal the instant classic Blade Runner 2049.

So let me launch a provocation. Self Star Wars was the funniest, most popular, light-hearted metaphor on a galactic scale of the eternal feud between good and evil, the one where a group of down-at-heel but talented oppressed manages to prevail over the very powerful oppressor, then, perhaps, in our horrendous 2022, there could not be nobody else Star Wars.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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