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Warning: minor spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens ahead
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is truly a marvel of modern filmmaking. While such an immense spectacle obviously required the assistance of CGI to complete, an astounding amount of the visual effects showcased within the movie were achieved primarily through practical means. With so many amazing shots and effects present in the film, it begs one very important question: which of which sequence is the crew of The Force Awakens most proud? Luckily we now have an answer to that question.
Variety recently queried Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould about his favorite scene to put together in the long awaited sequel, and one particular sequence immediately came to his mind. Said Corbould,
Weirdly enough, there is a pyrotechnic sequence where they were tracking back with Daisy [Ridley] and John [Boyega] running towards camera and the explosions were going off behind them and getting closer and closer and closer and closer. I remember the shot vividly because the camera was on the back of a little quad bike and they were running and I was cueing all the explosions. Everybody loved the shot after we had done it, I think it was like a kilo of high explosives in each one of them and some of them were twenty gallons of fuel.
Anyone who has seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens knows exactly to what scene Chris Corbould is referring. It takes place on Jakku just after Rey (Ridley) and BB-8 meet Finn (Boyega). As they begin to get to know one another the First Order attacks, forcing them to flee to the nearest available ship and escape. Amid all of the amazing set pieces in the film, it’s arguable the most pulse pounding.
What makes the scene work so well in Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the combination of practical effects, solid camera work, and convincing performances by the film’s two leads. Without resorting to shaky cam, the frame tracks Rey and Finn as they sprint through the desert to try and escape the attacking TIE fighters. The authenticity of the explosions and the sheer fear on the protagonists’ faces sells the danger of the scene while keeping the action coherent for our eyes to track.
Check out Chris Corbould’s interview with Variety about Star Wars: The Force Awakens below to get a better sense of how the sequence was accomplished by the film’s crew.
If there’s one thing we have to be grateful for, it’s the fact that The Force Awakens brought the Star Wars series back to its roots and created genuine worlds and action sequences that don’t rely on computer generated imagery. It leaves us hopeful that future installments in the series will build upon this success and create action sequences unlike anything we have ever seen before.