A Source of Images For ‘The First Order’

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There are various statements in the worldwide web, which recognize the choice of images when it comes to the presentation of the ‘First Order’ in The Force Awakens.

I think it is quite clear that the sequence before firing the Starkiller weapon is inspired very much by Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda movies for the National Socialist regime. To give you an idea about how these images work and what effect they aim at, I linked one of the most famous propaganda movies of Riefenstahl in this article.

The movie is called “Triumph des Willens” (engl.: Triumph of the Will) and was published in 1935.
I think, especially from 1:01:04 onwards, you will find a lot of impressions which have been used similarly in The Force Awakens. If you watch closely, you will detect analogies in terms of architecture, positioning of troops, positioning of banners and so on.

I am asking myself whether this choice of quotation of images is blunt or necessary, whether it creates a truly frightening atmosphere around the First Order, or whether it is just a means to compensate a lack of content that needs to be disguised with overwhelming images.

I think playing the Nazi-card in such an obvious way wouldn’t have been necessary. From my point of view, that kind of provoking an association pulls the movie too much to a realistic level and too far away from abstraction. After all, The Force Awakens is an entertainment movie and not a naturalistic portrayal or deeply historical allegory about the Nazi regime.

If you watch “Triumpf des Willens”, you will also find out that the specific montage creates an effect of greatness and overwhelming power. A similar effect can be recognized in The Force Awakens, influencing the viewer’s attitude towards the First Order.

I think it doesn’t hurt to be aware of some of the tricks filmmakers use to influence our emotions. Especially if these tricks are also used for political purposes, like in propaganda movies. Maybe we can use entertainment movies to train our sensitivity for these kind of images, so we can detect them in other contexts.


Thomas RitzingerTom is an Austrian actor and director, working in theaters since 2001. He studied acting in Salzburg and currently lives in Germany. He loves being creative, putting the crazy thoughts in his head out into the world and dreaming of being a Star Wars character. In addition he is also studying Media-Management, but only if his thoughts don´t drift to galaxies far, far away.
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