The Cinema Behind Star Wars: New Required Viewing

With the announcements over the last few weeks of cast, crew, and creative teams joining the Star Wars family, it seems only fitting to create a new list of movies that almost instantly rocketed to the top of every Star Wars fan’s must-see list.

We’re like that. We want to know everything about Star Wars, and when there’s someone new to the universe, we want to know everything about them, too.

I’ve put together a list of movies you’re going to want to watch. They might not influence Star Wars directly going forward, but they’ll certainly give you a taste of the ability of those involved. Only after the films are out will we be able to see how much they truly influenced Star Wars, but the experiences of the actors and filmmakers in making these films will certainly inform their decisions.

Super 8: The first film on the list is the J.J. Abrams directed Super 8. It tells the story of a group of adolescent filmmakers who stumble upon an alien trying to escape Earth. It perfectly captures the sense of wonder, adventure, and danger that personified the filmmaking of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas through the late ‘70s and ‘80s. (Rated PG-13)

Monsters: If you watch one Gareth Edwards film to prepare for his new role as director of the first Star Wars stand-alone film, it should be his first. Monsters was an independent film made on a shoe-string budget about a journalist escorting a tourist through the infected zone after an alien invasion. (Rated R)

Attack the Block: Another alien invasion film, John Boyega stars as a street tough who finds that his city is under attack. Along with his gang of hoods, he defends his block against the invaders with swords, bats, and anything else they have on hand. Equal parts funny and terrifying, the film is a winner and Boyega carries it, exuding a quiet confidence that makes me excited about what he’ll give us in Episode VII. (Rated R)

The Seventh Seal: Possibly one of the most influential films ever made, Ingmar Bergman’s Swedish classic from 1957 stars Max Von Sydow (rhymes with Greedo (Thanks, Bobby Roberts)) as a knight on his way home from the crusades. There he encounters the Grim Reaper, whom he challenges to a game of chess in hopes of staving off his own inevitable death. It’s a brilliant film and one I recommend you all watch, but if you’re looking for a more modern Max Von Sydow film, try Spielberg’s Minority Report. (Not Rated)

Inside Llewyn Davis: Someone else must have loved this latest effort from the Coen Brothers as much as I did, since this film produced two actors that will be appearing in the new Star Wars film. Oscar Issac plays the titular character, a musician with a knack for making people not like him. He’s abrasive in a charming way, but unlucky. At one point, he’s crashing on the couch of Adam Driver, who plays a gangly singer that just seems a little off. (Rated R)

In case it was a problem before, the level of craft in both acting in filmmaking on display in the above-mentioned movies will actually double your excitement for the new Star Wars movie. I promise.

Bryan Young is an author, a filmmaker, journalist, and the editor in chief of Big Shiny Robot! He’s also the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, Full of Sith.

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