On May the Fourth, aka Star Wars Day, Disney and Lucasfilm announced that the celebrated Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi will direct an upcoming installment of the Star Wars movie series. This news comes six months after Game Of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss decided to detach themselves from a commitment to oversee a trilogy of Star Wars features for Disney. The studio has not specified a theatrical release date for Waititi’s project. It is unclear whether it is one of the untitled Star Wars films already slated for December 2022, December 2024, and December 2026.
The rise of Waititi
Waititi’s stock as a filmmaker and performer has shot to the moon over the past few years. He directed the 2017 Marvel tentpole Thor: Ragnarok, which was both critically acclaimed (93% on RottenTomatoes.com) and a cash cow. The film raked in over $850,000,000 in worldwide box office revenue. Then, he wrote, starred in, and directed the 2019 Fox Searchlight production, Jojo Rabbit. That film, an edgy but heartwarming WWII satire, centered on the experiences of a 10-year-old member of the Hitler Youth named Jojo. The boy’s imaginary best friend is a bombastic caricature of Adolph Hitler, who, oddly enough, is played by Waititi, a self-described Polynesian Jew. When Jojo discovers a Jewish girl hiding in the attic of his house, he must reassess the fascist propaganda that had previously defined his world view.
As a comedy about Nazi Germany, Jojo Rabbit generated a certain amount of controversy. Some critics argued that it made light of the Holocaust, while others felt it did not go far enough in lambasting the atrocities of war. But, overall, a worldwide audience embraced the film’s moving performances and uplifting themes of tolerance and the power of love. Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie shine as awkward young sweethearts Jojo and Elsa, respectively. And Scarlett Johansson turns in perhaps the best performance of her career as Jojo’s strong-willed mother. The movie garnered a slew of prestigious accolades including the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, the BAFTA award for best adapted screenplay, and the Oscar for best adapted screenplay.
Comedy has always, for thousands and thousands of years, been a way of connecting audiences and delivering more profound messages by disarming them and opening them up to receive those messages. Comedy is a way more powerful tool than just straight drama, because with drama, people tend to switch off or feel a sense of guilt, or leave feeling depressed.Taika Waititi
Waititi was born and raised in New Zealand. His father is Maori, and his mother is of Ashkenazi Jewish, Irish, Scottish, and English descent. Early in his career Waititi made the acclaimed short films “Two Cars, One Night,” which was nominated for an Oscar, and “Tama Tu.” His 2010 movie Boy became the highest grossing local feature in New Zealand history. He followed that with two more critically acclaimed releases: a vampire mockumentary entitled What We Do In The Shadows, and Hunt For The Wilderpeople, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016.