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Axlin16
 Rep: 768 

Re: The Star Wars Thread *NO SPOILERS ALLOWED!*

Axlin16 wrote:

The only one I didn't like was Phantom Menace... the rest were pretty bitchin'.

polluxlm
 Rep: 207 

Re: The Star Wars Thread *NO SPOILERS ALLOWED!*

polluxlm wrote:

We all grew up watching them. Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Star Destroyers. You'd be hard pressed to find a kid born after 1970 that doesn't know what you're talking about. Despite it's popularity and impact Star Wars is not considered very serious, and apart from the two first films they are not very highly regarded as films in the artistic sense. With the prequel trilogy Lucas has gotten even more rap for what is perceived as silliness and bad film making.

But how fair is this really? Granted, some of the issues made against him are based on valid concerns. I'll agree that directing and dialog aren't George Lucas' strongest abilities, but when I look beneath the subpar craftsmanship, when I take a look at the intent, I see a rich, complex story rooted in human nature with parallels to our own time. I see why these films from the beginning have been marketed towards children. I see the true intent behind Jar Jar. Let's take a look at what these films really are about.

The prequel trilogy was conceived in the mid to late 90s, but the underlying idea has been there since before the original films. We begin in the Republic, ruled by the Supreme Chancellor. The republic is very old, and an atmosphere of complacency, arrogance, injustice and turmoil is prevalent. It's basically a symbol for the classic old and dying empire. Rich and bloated. Parallels can be drawn to the late Roman republic, the Weimar republic in pre war Germany and the American republic today.

The guardians of the republic are the Jedi. They are a secret society, independent from government that upholds order as they see it fit, often in the most clandestine manner. They are also a religious society and they are not foreign to using their knowledge for the "common good". Mind tricks and aggressive negotiations is the norm if things don't go their way. Even more interesting they are a bloodline society, and children are taken from their parents by force when mandatory blood tests on the population reveal their abilities. They are brought to their new home, the temple, where they are trained to suppress emotion and fight the enemy. Many parallels can be drawn. From the Catholic church, the CIA, Skull and Bones and secret societies and organized religion in general.

The self proclaimed leader of this society is Yoda. The wise, sweet and good old man. But is he really, at this point? What I see is an arrogant master, set in his ways and out of touch with the new generation and the world in general. In reality the prequel trilogy is just a long string of failures for this man, and he is ultimately partly responsible for the downfall of his entire civilization. In fact all the jedi, although with good intentions, are portrayed as stuck up, conservative old fools. Clear parallels to the establishment, to all establishments.

The enemy in the films, now is where I think it gets interesting, are the Sith. Sith is an obvious reference to Set, the ancient Egyptian snake god of darkness. The architecture of the District of Columbia is interestingly modeled on Egyptian styles, more specifically their necropolis, the city of death. This can also be applied to Rome, London and other former great capitols. The Jedi believe the Sith to be extinct, and even after their reveal they are still in a great deal of denial about the seriousness of the situation. The Sith are of course also a religious secret society. Secret Societies are insidious in nature, and appropriately the leader of the Sith is named Darth Sidious. He is an occultist, a practicer of hidden, forbidden knowledge. He schemes behind the scenes to usurp power and he hides the best way possible, in plain view. 

To gain power he engages in a conspiracy with the Trade Federation and the Bankers Guild. Translated, the top echelon of the business sector in the the galaxy. The money powers. They instigate a false flag operation on a planet so that Sidious can be elected. When he is elected he instigates a fake war where he funds both sides. He uses the war to transform the constitution, overstepping his term as chancellor. Creating "terror laws". Eventually he uses the Jedi as scapegoats to usher in an empire with him as emperor. "A safe and secure society". The parallels her are too numerous to mention. Nazi germany, the holocaust, Julius Cæsar etc. etc.

But there is one force neither side has reckoned with. Anakin Skywalker, the virgin born prodigy, an embodiment of the force. He becomes Darth Vader, the dark father, and he is early on misinterpreted as the fallen one. His story comes to full fruition a little later.

In the original trilogy the Empire has ruled supreme for 20 years, and Sidious is still Emperor. A resistance is forming and once again it is shaping up as a battle between the Jedi and the Sith, good against evil. Yoda and Obi Wan are seen as repentant men. What was once arrogance and complacency have been replaced by a new, heightened sense of reality. Yoda is wiser, more understanding of Luke. A boy that breaks the Jedi rule of conduct when he can, much like his father.

Contrary to popular belief "good" does not conquer "evil" in the original trilogy. Ultimately Luke must rely on his anger and passion to defeat his father, and in return he is himself saved by another passion, the love of his fater, who now becomes not only a fallen jedi, but also a fallen Sith. If the Jedi are the thesis and the Sith are the antithesis, Anakin and Luke are surely the synthesis. Darth Vader kills the ancient Sith order and puts an end to their rigid ways. Luke does the same to the Jedi order and emerges as the birth of the new order. One where emotion is cherished, where love and anger are accepted and embraced instead of abused and suppressed.

In the end both trilogies are commentaries of life. The prequel leans more toward political and historical commentary, while the original is one of philosophy, religion and belief. They are also obvious products of their time. The OT is basically one long story of human rebellion against tyranny. A "you can do it!" type of experience. The PT is a more serious and direct commentary on the current world. A "not everything is as it seems" type of experience.

And that is where the kids aspect comes in. What does it mean that every kid in western civilization has grown up with dreams of rebellion and fight against tyranny? The Star Wars trilogy is many things, but apart from the complex message, they are mainly products made for kids. Toys, commercials, Jar Jar Binks, Ewooks. Lucas is trying very hard to push his subliminal messages onto the open minds of children. It's not all about the money. If it was we wouldn't get these carefully thought through stories. He is himself a self proclaimed occultist. Indiana Jones should be evidence enough as to what he actually believes in (yes, he actually believes the Germans found the grail). His first film, THX, is a portrait of a futuristic, totalitarian society where people are drugged down drones in servitude of "the economy". A clear nod to 1984 and think thanks such as Ayrn Rand Corporation, for GN'R fans Atlas Shrugged will be his immediate work.

There is a lot more than this to Star Wars of course, but I think this is a major underlying idea that has always been with Lucas. He wants the world to know something they generally don't, and that is why he is actively seeking an as open minded audience as there is, children. He is to kids what Stanley Kubrick is to grown ups. Not only a good storyteller, but also in possession of that little extra that we can all relate to. Some kind of truth that appeals to us all.

If anyone reads all of this I demand some karma for the 2 hours it took me! 16

Neemo
 Rep: 480 

Re: The Star Wars Thread *NO SPOILERS ALLOWED!*

Neemo wrote:

ok i'll definately read and respond in a little while...i'm a huge SW geek wink

Communist China
 Rep: 130 

Re: The Star Wars Thread *NO SPOILERS ALLOWED!*

Karma indeed.

I agree the story being told is very complex, philosophical, and rightfully epic. But I can't call the prequels good movies based on what they were supposed to be at their core. The execution is too piss-poor to earn that. They become bloated action movies where CGI is more important than the themes you discuss.

Instead of hinting at the comparisons to Rome and the visual context of the world and deeply exploring the deep conflicts of that universe, he flips it - hinting at the deeper meanings and conflicts, and going in depth to the action and visuals.

myillusions
 Rep: 5 

Re: The Star Wars Thread *NO SPOILERS ALLOWED!*

myillusions wrote:

I love Episodes 4, 5, and 6!

Episodes 1, 2, and 3 were just absolutely horrible. What a shame to what was an amazing series.

metallex78
 Rep: 188 

Re: The Star Wars Thread *NO SPOILERS ALLOWED!*

metallex78 wrote:

I think of the prequels, Episode 3 was definitely the best. It's just hard to get past the sub-par acting of Anakin Skywalker, that guy is just BAD!
I know the acting in 4, 5 & 6 wasn't all that great either, but there was still something those movies had that the new ones were lacking.

But I love the overall tone of the film, as it is much darker and I'd compare it to Empire Strikes Back as far as ending on a not so happy note.

I'm on holidays now, so I think I'll have to bust out Epidode 4, 5 & 6 for a viewing, it's been a while since I've watched them back to back.

Dreamline
 Rep: 64 

Re: The Star Wars Thread *NO SPOILERS ALLOWED!*

Dreamline wrote:

I'll have to come back and comment when I have more time to do so, but anyway awesome essay there, polluxm.  Karma for an interesting read.

metallex78 wrote:

I know the acting in 4, 5 & 6 wasn't all that great either, but there was still something those movies had that the new ones were lacking.

*cough* Han Solo *cough* big_smile

RussTCB
 Rep: 633 

Re: The Star Wars Thread *NO SPOILERS ALLOWED!*

RussTCB wrote:

removed

Neemo
 Rep: 480 

Re: The Star Wars Thread *NO SPOILERS ALLOWED!*

Neemo wrote:

i got the clone war animated movie for xmas....cant wait til the tv series is released....

but yeah i gotta reply to this thread myself 17

sic.
 Rep: 150 

Re: The Star Wars Thread *NO SPOILERS ALLOWED!*

sic. wrote:

Well pollux,

As much as I see the valid points in your text, I find an equal amounts of issues open for debate. If we begin by taking a look at George Lucas the filmmaker, we'll notice A New Hope is the sole original trilogy film which could be claimed as wholly his. Like Sergio Leone with A Fistfull of Dollars and John Sturges with The Magnificient Seven, Lucas used a Kurosawa film as a dramaturgical blueprint for his sci-fi epic [a feat soon to be repeated by Battle Beyond the Stars]. While Leone and Sturges used the reknown Yojimbo and Seven Samurai, respectively, Lucas turned towards the little-known Hidden Fortress. Two ne'er-do-well peasants end up smuggling a princess of a fallen royal family across the enemy lines, oftentimes tempted by her golden treasure (a direct lift to Han Solo's character). While they succeed, the story is left open, and we are left to our own cognition as to whether the princess will stand a chance reclaiming the family throne.

As far as source material, another work vital in understanding New Hope's underlying dynamics is Joseph Campbells A Hero With A Thousand Faces, which describes in detail the run-of-the-mill hero myth, detailing every step of the protagonists journey by cross-referencing various tales across the ages. Obviously, Skywalkers journey is a fluent one, as he's doing everything stritcly by the numbers, literally by the book.


In this light, A New Hope can hardly be claimed to be an original story in any sense of the word. On the other hand, this argument is ultimately a moot point, as the films greatest singular achievement is to reintroduce the Campbellian monomyth to a new generation, effectively by moving that iconic tradition in American cinema from the Old West into space.

Therefore, what Lucas'd wish to say with his films should be considered as a rather great responsibility. As his greatest strength as a filmmaker is to analyze and dissect the existing patterns of filmmaking tradition and storytelling, arising from the dawn of times, one should pay close attention as to what sort of a message he's trying to send across.

This brings the events surrounding the latter episodes of the original trilogy to an interesting light. Lucas decidedly took a more 'hands-off' approach to Empire, leaving creative partner and producer Gary Kurtz to the helm with new screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and veteran director Irvin Kershner. The final result was by far the darkest hour to the characters, with a whole new sense of melodrama and more fleshed-out interpersonal relationships. In my opinion, this shift is what saved the original trilogy.

Whenever a three-part story arrives at the second act, things get tricky. You're starting with a story which has established characters and setting, take them through hell and leave the story open, without a readily-available katharsis for the audience. Only the third part will bring closure, and the opening entry has the luxury of letting everyone into the world; the second part always ends up with the uphill battle of the middleman.

If you have a lackluster second act, no-one gives a shit about your grande finale. Yes, Wachowski brothers, I'm talking to you.


Gary Kurtz and Lucas parted ways after the Empire production, which is definitely an interesting turn. Apparently, Lucas felt his baby was sliding away from him and he felt the need to take the reins on a more day-to-day basis. Kurtz has later claimed their original vision for the third act would've been far darker; in the place of Ewoks, there would've been wookies, Han Solo would've been killed in battle, Leia would've finally claimed rule over her people and set out to lead to a new age. Never his brother, Luke would've set out for a walkabout beyond the stars, desolate and without friends, having killed his father in a moment of Pyrrhic victory.

At the time, Lucas and Kurtz had outlined material for Episodes I-III, as well as VII-IX. In that light, the original trilogy should be considered as the 'Empire of trilogies', as far as the greater story arch is concerned. While an individual storyline, it should also tell of the years of pestilence, the middle children of history. They'd reap whatever the fall of the Republic had sown, and the Empire would've been properly defeated only in the final trilogy, which would've been the final, perhaps more upbeat entry and a return to a status quo resembling that of the beginning of (or preceding) Episode I.

(Covered in the exquisite Gary Kurtz interview, which is definitely worth your while.)

However, Lucas went out and closed the story in a rather forced manner, merging the original ideas for Episode IX with VI. Therefore, a lot of loose strings were tied up in a rush, among them the grimacing abuse of Yoda's remark in Empire about Luke having an equal somewhere out there. In the film, Leia only gains clairvoyance through Luke, which reminds of Obi-Wan's mind control. Their connection could be explained with Leia possessing a more open mind than Han Solo, the one other person as close to Luke, as the Force as a telepathic signal seemingly comes through clearer to those less sceptic (in that sense, Solo represents the classic Doubting Thomas figure).


The original trilogy definitely lost me by the third act, particularly with Leia's character development taking wild turns from warrior woman to a bikini-clad prostitute and further down to the sister of a God and the lover of a swashbuckler. She was first degraded from her position as an equal to men, and after doing penance, she was ready to embrace a new role as a warrior with submissive relationships to the two men she'd fought alongside with. Down with the independence of a fierce lady shouldered with the future of her people.

The paternal relationship of Luke and Vader is not as bad, but the much of the intended emotional impact of the aftermath is kibboshed as Luke receives an absolution by seeing the ghost of his late father alongside the other late Jedi. No longer is there a shadow of a doubt whether Luke can ever cope with the fact that his father, possessing the same strength as he does, made the opposite choice and became a tyrant. No self-doubt, no questioning as to whether he himself can keep those same powers at reins, instead of turning against Leia and her cohorts as their relationship is bound to change forever when the rebuilding of the nation ensues. Like any revolutionary hero, Luke should pay heed to Spartacus and take the high road before they'll crucify him.


Those are my main gripes with the original trilogy, and I'm rather vexed by the fact that Lucas decided to switch horses mid-race. I cannot comment on the prequels as I only saw The Phantom Menace in the opening month (as well as half the Western world, it seemed), leaving terribly underwhelmed and annoyed by the presence of midichlorians, the illegal alien from the Twilight Zone Jamaica, and lastly, the horrendous Jake Lloyd.

I even gave the film another chance, revisiting it years later in the form of The Phantom Edit. By the time I made to the underwater city, I felt immensely bored, and was shocked to find out that the edit'd actually removed a fight Obi-Wan and co have with an underwater entity en route to surface. Had it remained intact, I would've probably passed out.

Therefore, I'd like to imagine neither Episode VI or Lucas' pussyfoot reimaginings of the original trilogy never quite happened, as the person who struck such a fine balance between myth and pop culture in A New Hope has seemingly gone to a very different direction somewhere down the road.

What his motives are, I don't understand. What his message is, I can't hear it anymore. One thing's for certain; I'd be hard-pressed to introduce my kin to the Star Wars trilogy with Episode I. It was never supposed the be a toy-fair, nor did it need to be. My first contact with A New Hope was at a Spanish hotel room at the age of six. Even when dubbed into a foreign language without subtitles and whatnot, the sense of an ageless adventure glued me into my seat, speaking to me from the land of the ancients, from the courts of dead kings.

I was enchanted, for I understood the language. I needed no accessories, translations or any sort of cognitive adult interference. My relationship to Lucas as it has evolved over the years can probably be best coined in the words of Roger Waters:


When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.

I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.

The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

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