I know I’m not helping you much but I don’t think the newest crawl is much of an improvement. While you do accomplish some things, like making the existence of the superweapon apparent, I don’t think it adds much else that your previous crawls haven’t already.
And I think it is a little confusing. The last sentence in the second crawl seems to imply that destroying what’s left of the Jedi will help to keep the weapon secret. In the third paragraph, though, “To prevent this atrocity…” seems to imply the Republic/Resistance already knows about it. I’m sure this isn’t exactly what you meant but that’s how it comes off to me.
Also, I don’t think this crawl flows as well as some of the others. The repitition of “To protect this perilous secret” and “To prevent this atrocity” feels redundant, and the last paragraph feels like it is missing some kind of energy that should get me excited for what I’m about to see.
I think you bring up some interesting thoughts about the function of the crawl and how the theatrical TFA crawl might raise a bit of questions for new viewers, but I think you have to somewhat trust the audience to get the gist of it, just how previous crawls just gives you basics of the premise. I mean, I could come up with similar questions for both the ANH and TPM crawl.
I think it is cool that you’re trying different crawls and seeing what lands/feels right, I just think this most recent iteration is not the right direction.
I think you should really break down what is the most basic information you’re trying to get across to audience with the crawl without overloading the audience with information, which I think is the beauty of the other crawls.
If I had to summarize the goal of a good TFA crawl, I would suggest these items:
- Luke and the Jedi are gone.
- The First Order, their status in the galaxy and goal.
- The New Republic’s status.
- Its relationship with the Resistance and their goal.
- The present mission/first scene transition.
I think the theatrical accomplishes this to extent, though sort of drops the ball on the New Republic/Resistance relationship and maybe it could’ve given more context on the First Order. Have they been in hiding, or are they publicly active at this point? And something to explain the Republic’s inaction. You have had previous crawls that have touched on this and I know I’ve thrown out a suggestion or two.
Basically, it comes down to explaining who the players are and what are the stakes. I think defining the stakes is what makes it compelling for an audience. This is another thing I feel the theatrical crawl is missing. It’s missing some energy and maybe a little bit of poetry that the other crawls have.
If something you’re thinking about including in the crawl is addressed in the movie itself, don’t put it in.
And honestly, and I hate to say this because I know you’ve tried really hard to add this in, but I don’t even think it is really necessary to mention the weapon at all. I think it is better not to, because it could make people feel like it is a ANH rehash before the movie even starts.
If anything, I think you could just allude to an imminent attack, or something more vague. It gets difficult, because if you mention a weapon or attack, then the audience will question why the New Republic didn’t act. But if Starkiller Base is a surprise to us, in a way we also feel like the Base is a surprise to the protagonists, by extension the New Republic. And luckily the nature of Restructured gives the film some breathing room between discovering its existence and seeing it being used.
Talking about the Death Star in the 4 and 6 crawls make sense because they’re central to the story and we know about both of them from the get go. Starkiller, on the other hand, is more of a reveal and it isn’t the focus of the story, either.
Without being flowery, I think the crawl should cover these things.
Luke and Jedi have disappeared. Without their protection, the remnant of the Empire, reborn as the First Order, has come out of hiding to take back the galaxy.
For whatever reason the New Republic is not taking action (either pursuing a diplomatic solution or First Order spies/sympathizers have compromised the Senate), so Leia forms a covert Resistance to hold back their expansion and prepare for the worst.
And let the last paragraph cover the first scene. Leia thinks Luke is the key to stopping the First Order, so she has sent one of her pilots to retrieve a clue to his location.
^I think Luke/the Jedi being the key to victory is important, because it adds weight to why he must be found. In the theatrical crawl, it makes it seem more like a last resort. She knows that Snoke, Kylo Ren, the Knights of Ren, are all challenges that only a Jedi can truly stand a chance against. Luke and the Jedi were the only thing holding them back, and now the galaxy needs them to restore peace.
You also could go with the angle that the First Order are only targeting what’s left of the Jedi, but maybe mention in second or third paragraph how Leia believes these attacks will eventually spread to the New Republic. The Jedi are their major threat, but once that is out of the way…
This statement could eventually contradict with the Resistance show, though I don’t know how much that matters. Luckily though I think either angle addressin the New Republic’s inaction is technically canon, so shouldn’t be much of an issue either way.
I also know you had an issue with the “In his absence” phrase, since it almost implies that Luke’s vanishing had something to do with the creation of the First Order. To me though, I think the First Order has existed for a long time before Luke’s vanishing, but like I said, without the threat the Jedi presented to the First Order, it gave them the confidence they needed to slowly emerge from the shadows.
So instead of “in his absence”, maybe something like “without his protection”, “without the Jedi [Knights]”, “without the protection of the Jedi” could also work. And honestly I don’t think you need to explain who the Jedi are. In the first scene, Lor San Tekka states, “Without the Jedi, there can be no balance in the Force.” And I think pop-culture has helped people know what a Jedi is in a general sense.
This is another reason I think the phrase, “The sinister First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire” should not be in an edited crawl. While technically true, it makes it seem like the First Order’s rise was fairly recent, even though it seems more likely that they have existed for an extended period of time, but just been in hiding.
I understand your logic of a new opening sentence since they mostly present a statement on the status of the galaxy or a particular faction (sans ROTJ which imo is a poorly written crawl in general).
Maybe to find a happy medium, what if you went with something like, “The Jedi have vanished.”
The disappearance of Luke and the Jedi seem to be the catalyst of the events of Sequel trilogy, so I think such an opening is appropriate, but making it about the Jedi in general instead of Luke makes it more fitting with the other crawls and also makes it not feel like Luke is particularly responsible for the First Order’s rise.
Though it makes it even more ironic that the title of the previous movie was called Return of the Jedi, and to start the next movie off with “The Jedi have vanished.” You can’t really get around that fact though. If you had to do something different, I do like your most recent opening sentence, but I would suggest making it, “The New Republic is in crisis.” I do think people easily forget that there has been three decades of peace in-between these movies though, even longer than the Empire existed.
A lot of thoughts, I know. And I know you have already made a lot of such changes in previous iterations of your crawl. You put a lot of thought into the crawl so I figured I would throw out my thoughts as well. Basically, I think the skeleton of the theatrical crawl is a good structure to follow, but addressing those major points and tying it all together with stakes can make for a powerful crawl.