There were a whole lot of questions thrown out when Chris Miller and Phil Lord were fired from directing the untitled Han Solo movie in the middle of production. First one: What the hell is Kathleen Kennedy thinking? Second one: No, really, what the fuck is going on with Star Wars?
Way down the list of questions is the matter of Bradford Young, the director of photography on the Han Solo movie, and whether Ron Howard will keep him on when he took over directing duties. Well, we got confirmation yesterday that Howard has kept Young on for the rest of the shoot via Twitter, where the director posted a picture of him setting up a shot alongside the brilliant cinematographer.
This effectively makes Young the de-facto auteur of the film, seeing as the movie will have to reconcile the scenes and tone that Kennedy didn’t appreciate and whatever Howard is cooking up. Maybe they can pull this off without the movie feeling like a total mess, but Rogue One certainly suffered from having Gareth Edwards‘ vision reshot and cut into a largely miserable, occasionally stunning nostalgia trip meant primarily to remind the film’s audience that they had indeed seen the original trilogy and liked it a whole bunch.
No matter what comes out, however, Young’s touch with the imagery and the overall aesthetic of the movie should lend the film an overall cohesiveness, even if the editing and the inevitable, suffocating references to events in the former Star Wars movies corrupt the film’s level of imagination. Maybe that won’t happen but it’s difficult not to be cynical about Kennedy and company firing Lord and Miller, who are an irrefutably seasoned big-studio directing-writing-producing team. The idea that the Star Wars movie that the 21 Jump Street directors were making was too “out there” or too funny or without at least a handful of clever references to the canon simply does not square for me when one looks at their exceedingly populist track record.
We’ll just have to see when the movie finally hits theaters, but we know exactly what Young can bring to movies. His work on Arrival and Ava DuVernay‘s excellent Selma would be enough for him to be included in any current list of the most talented cinematographers currently working. Cobbled together with his work on A Most Violent Year, Pawn Sacrifice, Mother of George, Pariah, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, I Called Him Morgan, and DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere, Young’s oeuvre represents a uniquely varied collection of aesthetics and tones, collaborated on with a series of major filmmakers like Denis Villeneuve, David Lowery, Dee Rees, and J.C. Chandor. Having him as the lead artist behind the look of the Han Solo movie is the only resoundingly optimistic spot in this mess at this point.
Here’s Howard’s tweet:
Working out a shot w/cinematographer Bradford Young for #UntitledHanSoloMovie pic.twitter.com/z4ZYFZXBE4
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) July 28, 2017
Related youtube video: (not from post)