It's been nearly a year since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and secrets of the movie are still being revealed. A collector's edition Blu-ray of the sequel was recently released and it (finally) featured a commentary track from director J.J. Abrams. In it, he reveals that he had a little help from none other than Steven Spielberg.
CinemaBlend dug into the commentary track a bit and during it, J.J.Abrams talks about a couple of specific scenes in the movie that Steven Spielberg gave his two cents on. The first scene from Star Wars: The Force Awakens that the Raiders of the Lost Ark director helped out with was when Finn crawled out of the wrecked Tie Fighter on Jakku. It turns out, the explosion was Spielberg's idea. Here is what J.J. Abrams had to say about the director's contributions to this Star Wars reboot.
"While this is a CG effect of the swallowing, this explosion was Steven Spielberg's idea. He loved the idea that the thing get sucked into the sand and then... that!"
The second scene that Steven Spielberg helped J.J. Abrams out with came much later in the movie. During the lightsaber battle between Kylo Ren and Rey, there were trees falling down in addition to the other chaos going on. It turns out that was also a suggestion made by Steven Spielberg. Here is how J.J. Abrams explains it.
"When I showed the first cut of this scene to Steven Spielberg ... he suggested 'What if trees were falling while they were fighting?' And I said 'That's cool, but we've shot the scene already.' And then I said to [visual effects supervisor] Roger Guyett, 'Is there any way we could have trees falling?' And he said, 'If you want to pay for it.' So we did."
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a massive undertaking and by most accounts, J.J. Abrams did a pretty good job of reintroducing the franchise to the masses. It is pretty cool that he is so candid about the help he received throughout the process, because it would have probably gone uncredited otherwise. Not only did his pal Steven Spielberg lend a hand, but Selma director Ava Duvernay also gave him a couple of suggestions that he put to good use. Her ideas were also put to use during the Rey and Kylo Ren fight. She suggested that Rey take a moment to close her eyes and tap into The Force to help her fight the Darth Vader-wannabe, which J.J. Abrams acknowledged was a "little thing" but helped a lot.
It seems fitting that Steven Spielberg was able to lend a hand in some small way, since he was the one that helped get J.J. Abrams the job directing the movie in the first place. No one little thing can make a movie that much better, but the sum total of a lot of these little things can definitely help to elevate something like The Force Awakens. Not only in terms of quality, but to the tune of more than $2 billion worldwide at the box office. Even if George Lucas, who created this entire universe, was left in the dust. If you want to listen to the commentary in its entirety, you'll have to pick up the new 3D collector's edition of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray, which is out now. Star Wars: Episode VIII is in theaters next December.