2023 Emmys: ‘Andor’ Can Hold Its Own Against ‘The Mandalorian’
“Andor” will make a big splash in the upcoming Emmy-winning craft competition as the best “Star Wars” since “Rogue One.”
With three “Star Wars” series competing in the same Emmy season for the first time — especially in the craft races — how does the critically acclaimed but underperforming “Andor” stack up against “The Mandalorian” (which has 14 craft wins over two seasons) , not to mention the Jedi-infused “Obi-Wan Kenobi” limited series?
Simple: Its strengths as one of the 10 best shows of 2022 (according to IndieWire’s Ben Travers) and the best “Star Wars” since “Rogue One,” which first introduced Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as part of the series. daring mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. In the prequel “Andor,” written by Tony Gilroy (co-writer of “Rogue One”), we learn how Cassian went from world-weary scavenger to rebel spy.
Along with the sci-fi, it’s a gritty spy thriller that emphasizes politics more than any other “Star Wars” show, slowly unraveling the details of this complex loner who ends up lighting the fuse that ignites the rebellion against the Empire.
Granted, there are downsides to “Andor’s” Emmy chances. “Andor” isn’t as flashy as “The Mandalorian” or as iconic as Ewan McGregor’s return in “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” It’s the first “Star Wars” series to ditch the Jedi and their lightsabers, disappointing fans and hampering Disney+ ratings. However, it provides constant galactic tension throughout the 12 episodes and concludes Cassian’s five-year journey leading up to the “Rogue One” mission in Season 2.
But “Andor” already showed promise for the awards when he received guild recognition early on. It won an ACE Eddie TV Drama Award for editing and received ADG, VES and SCLA nominations for its fantasy production design, created environments and Nicholas Britell’s brilliant score.
Part of the special appeal of “Andor” is that it’s a Gilroy brother collaboration, with Tony joined by writer-director Dan (“Nightcrawler”) and editor John (“Nightcrawler”). Unable to direct, Tony relied on the team of Toby Haynes (“Black Mirror”), Susanna White (“Billions”) and Benjamin Caron (“Wallander”). In addition, there were two additional writers: Stephen Schiff (“The Americans”) and Beau Willimon (“House of Cards”).
In keeping with the grounded and visceral quality of Gilroy’s performance (“Michael Clayton”), much of “Andor” was shot on location. Abandoning the volume — ILM’s StageCraft LED wall used in the other “Star Wars” series — “Andor” set up shop in the U.K. (including a misty Scottish landscape) and at Pinewood Studios in London.
Although the three “Star Wars” shows are submitted in all craft categories, “The Mandalorian” is expected to dominate again in Season 3 (previously won cinematography, production design, VFX, prosthetic makeup, score, sound mixing, stunt coordination and stunt performance). . Still, “Andor” has to be the most competitive in terms of editing, production design, and score (Episode 10’s “One Way Out” prison break on Narkina 5 and the finale “Rix Road” stand out).
What is special about “Andor” is that its dramatic beats are grouped into four mini-movies of three blocks each. It’s a testament to the strength of Gilroy’s blueprint that helped solidify such an outstanding edit. New to TV, John Gilroy worked with Tim Porter (“Game of Thrones”) in the first three episodes, as well as the Garrison heist in episode 6 (“The Eye”), with Dan Roberts (“Peaky Blinders”). Other episodes were edited by Hazel Baillie (“Black Mirror”), Frances Parker (Emmy winner for “Band of Brothers”), Matthew Cannings (“Black Mirror”), Simon Smith (Emmy winner for “Chernobil”) and Yan. Miles (“The Crown”, “Game of Thrones”). Smith won an ACE Award for One Way Out.
“Andor” explores Cassian’s childhood trauma through a series of emotional flashbacks in its first three episodes. In the second block, Cassian performs the first robbery; in the third he is imprisoned in Narkina 5; and in the fourth, his desire to join the Rebellion and fight back against the Empire intensifies.
Emmy-winner Luke Hull (“Chernobyl”) pushed from the start to treat “Andor” as a grounded, political, period drama, bringing that departure from “Star Wars,” particularly the sterile Narkina 5 with his white prison. that’s not all: The detailed world building set in the working-class mining town of Ferrix, where Cassian lives, required the art department to create an outdoor practical building that contained several city blocks. One of the highlights is a warehouse firefight with Cassian and Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) with dozens of security guards.
In contrast, the luxurious galactic capital of Coruscant, home to Luthen and Imperial Senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), offered a stunning visual contrast. He owns an eccentric antique store (full of “Star Wars” references), but leads a double life organizing the rebellion, and he leads a double life as their financier.
The “succession” became Britell, an Emmy winner big fan of Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton” that he was excited to reimagine the “Star Wars” musical landscape for “Andor.” And he’s encouraged to lean into the gritty and dark mood that reflects Cassian’s personal rage against the Empire, created using a pulse motif. Britell was free to experiment, so he used analog synthesizers and created atmospheric elements. At the same time, courtesy of the 50-piece orchestra at London’s AIR Lyndhurst Studios, there are parts that are very much in keeping with John Williams’ majestic drive.
But there was also a very strategic in-camera musical sound, a ringtone developed as a warning system on Ferrix. This rhythm was not only time-consuming to figure out, but it was also essential that it not be confused with the rest of the score.
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