A Return to Star Wars



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

            I went out and bought copies of The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith movies.

            While New Hope was a monumental movie in my life, I’m not a huge fan of the franchise.  Indiana Jones is more my cup of tea.

            But I figured if I’m doing a parody film of Star Wars New Hope I should drench myself in the mythology. I read most of the scripts for the six basic films in the series, and The Clone Wars was the one I know nothing about.

            From time to time, I caught glimpse of the TV show’s reruns, and remarkably I liked them better than I did the prequel films.

            Most of those characters work better as cartoon figures than they ever did in the original films.

            I didn’t even like Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, which is arguably the best single film of the series – although New Hope remains my favorite.

            I struggled to get through The Return of the Jedi – but as in the more recent Jones film, Crystal Skull, Harrison Ford made an otherwise very flawed film tolerable.

            Part of the problem for me were the Muppets

            Like many people, I had great hopes for the prequel right up until I actually saw the first in the series, after which I did not bother until the third episode came out, and it received better reviews that episodes I and II.

            Even then, my copy of III is a preproduction copy, something smuggled out with all of the numbers giving a running time at the top.

            Smart enough to recognize that “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” was a text book for mythological fiction writing, Lucas recognized the need for grandiose history, but like his close friend, Steven Spielberg, often missed out on the concept of story. Spielberg is actually a better storyteller than Lucas is, even though he often slips into cliché and worse – sappiness.

            Of all Lucas’ non-franchise films, I liked Willow the best because he actually followed a relatively solid story line in it.

            Perhaps I might have been wiser picking up the Star Wars saga in order of history, the way I eventually did the expanded Godfather series that put all the pieces in order. But since my parody is about someone who is consumed with Star Wars, I needed to feel inspired again, and New Hope is the one who does that for me.

            I’ve just started The Return of the Jedi and figured I should get a better copy of Sith before I delve into that series.

            For the most part, my original instincts about the films were right – New Hope is the most emotional, the Empire Strikes Back, the most grounded in solid SF storytelling, and The Return of the Jedi, a significant and disappointing drop off from the promise of the original release.\

            Critics have been very hard on Lucas, even as Lucas raked in the cash from his merchandising empire.

            I understand Lucas’ need to build his own universe, and why he clings to it.

            He sees things in it, his films cannot yet convey. He has something significant to say, and is struggling to make the medium of film say it for him, when his lack of storytelling ability acts as a road block for us.

            One critic claimed The Clone Wars was so stuffed with insignificant details and sword fights that it was unbearable to watch.

            I had a similar reaction to Sith, and was really revolted by the race in Phantom Menace.

            Yet it is clear, Lucas is using every element to make his universe real in much the way a brick layer might build a house. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t always entertainment, but it is what he sees as reality.



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