PT Camille Paglia's "Glittering Images"

Discussion in 'Prequel Trilogy' started by Jedi_Ford_Prefect, Oct 27, 2012.

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  1. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
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    Anyone else check this out yet? I stumbled over it myself while trying to find her BFI book on "The Birds", and I'm kind of shocked at how little coverage it's gotten in the media so far. Very few reviews of the book have been written so far, and even less attention has been given to it by the geek blogosphere that you'd think would be all over the fact that a major cultural critic is calling George Lucas "the greatest living artist of our time". What's the deal? Is a book like this just too obscure for people?

    I've read most of it besides the obvious chapter myself. I'm glad at least to see somebody taking Tamara de Limpicka seriously and take a better look at Andy Warhol as a Catholic artist, among other things. It doesn't really have her usual stream-of-consciousness side-- too bad we're not getting this embrace of Lucas in "Sexual Personae, Volume 2", but it's better than nothing.
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  2. Mnhay27 Jedi Master

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    Sep 4, 2012
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    I think you'll find that the lack of attention is due to the fact that she's praising the prequels.

    And you're not supposed to do that apparently.
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  3. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I'll have to take a look. Never even heard of this book before today.
  4. WIERD_GREEN_MAN Jedi Grand Master

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    Dec 16, 2010
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    Sounds cool, but everyone has their own opinions now.
  5. sinkie Jedi Master

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    May 27, 2004
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    Not asking anyone to do my homework for me exactly but in a nutshell anyone know how she defend her assertion?
    Last edited by sinkie, Oct 29, 2012
  6. obi-rob-kenobi4 Force Ghost

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    Apr 17, 2007
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    http://starwarsprequelappreciationsociety.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/excerpt-from-glittering-images/

    No need to thank me.

    She raises excellent points and the fact that the media is ignoring such a respected high profile persons passionate statements about Lucas being the most underrated artist of the century is blatant proof of the stubborn bias against George Lucas and his Star Wars Saga.
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  7. sinkie Jedi Master

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    May 27, 2004
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    A quote from the excerpt:

    Encouraging improvisation (there were no rehearsals), he reserved his options for postproduction. He called for naturalistic acting to anchor the space fantasy. He started in close, avoiding establishing shots; long shots were never held. He wanted a nostalgic "filtered look" but kept changing key lights for a "flashing, strobing" effect. He used a loose, "nervous" frame, as in newsreels. The dramatic center was displaced, deflecting the eye to background activity, which in later films would include poetically changing weather. This first film gradually turned darker, following a symbolic color scheme where organic brown and warm gold yielded to high-tech black, white, and steely gray.

    But then, just below this:

    "My films are basically in the graphics": "Everything is visual." He views dialogue as merely "a sound effect, a rhythm, a vocal chorus in the overall soundtrack." In structure, Star Wars unfolds as dynamic action sequences alternating with grand panoramic tableaux, including breathtaking cityscapes stacked with traffic skylanes. Lucas declares, "I'm not really interested in plots."

    There is something here that seems to be at odds with itself, but I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing, just as eye opening. The first description, more applicable by far to the OT (and perhaps one reason some prefer it on a gut or aesthetic level over the PTs visual style), sounds as if he was concerned with making it feel rooted to reality, to a more day-to-day media-experience and aesthetic. I feel the second quote comes close to acknowledging this difference but skirts facing it head on and merely attempts to meld it to the former with a vague description of visuals that could apply to a variety of films in general. The second quote seems to apply much more to the approach to visuals in the newer work, the focus on "action sequences" and "panoramic tableaux" and "breathtaking cityscapes". I feel she is trying to create a unity of style and intention where there really isn't one and I'm not sure why. Would it be wrong if he had evolved toward this new style for personal as well as technologically based reasons?


    Also, Lucas's admission that he isn't really interested in plots and attempting to defend his works, as she later quotes him as saying:



    "Movies are a mass of objects moving across a large surface." His main task, he says, is to decide where the viewer's eye should be and for how long. Lucas calls digital technology "a new color": "It's a whole different way of making movies. It's painting now; it's not photography anymore."


    is both an acknowledgment I think of what I just said, that there is a "new color" in his palate now. But the attempt to describe himself as this kind of "plot-light" artist and filmmaker is in my eyes, at worst an attempt at covering his failures if they fail as story and at best his actual intentions, which would mean that the perhaps more successful story nature of the OT was a mere accident that was simply supported by all these "moving objects across a large surface". I think he (and she) is being too general not only about his own work but filmmaking as a medium. Yes, this aspect is there, but it is not the goal of a filmmaker, it is not the goal of a storyteller to move objects across a large surface. If it was, why would he be making films that attempted to tell stories with increasingly complex plots? How does this benefit the success of moving objects around on a large surface? I think this aspect of filmmaking is a tool or function of the medium through which "artists" express themselves, if he is more aware of it and uses it more self-consciously that is great but it does not explain away why he then makes the films he does or why they are not more self-conscious and simply just "art works". It also does not, in my mind, explain away why they are so popular, why people both love their world and design but also their characters and stories. Unless we've all been duped and we really have all just been dazzled by the pretty things moving around on the wall in front of us and then transfer our pleasure to the figures and story and attach to it a meaningfulness and power that really only comes from his power at mastering the movement of objects on a screen? That's possible I suppose.

    But she is onto something overall. I'm interested to read the book now. I think even if she is perhaps glossing over details in order to keep her point coherent (another example, a debatable "fact" she throws in is "Before writing the Star Wars screenplay, Lucas read extensively—fairy tales, mythology, and anthropology, including Frazer's The Golden Bough, Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces..." which I have seen Lucas refute with his own admissions quoted here and there over the years, especially the Joseph Campbell work), there is something to Lucas as an artist and film pioneer that does bear more reflection upon, praise and perhaps more serious integration into the history of art.
    Last edited by sinkie, Oct 30, 2012
  8. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    Ridiculous.

    If that's to be considered a "debatable" fact, then everything is "debatable".

    You've seen Lucas refute that he has read sources like Campbell? Really? I don't think so. Lucas has talked often about the Campbell influence. If Lucas' own words aren't considered credible on this point, the Campbell infuence on SW can be easily detected by one's own inspection of the Campbell texts.
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  9. sinkie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2004
    star 1
    I've seen him admit in interviews that he didn't read it until he was done writing ANH. Any "detection" of Campbell's influence is on the part of the one doing the detecting. Campbell himself was pointing out generalities in works of fiction and myth that cross cultures unconsciously, Lucas discovering he had done so post-creative act doesn't make him evil or anything, far from it. Simply another human being that has read and absorbed culture and then has it naturally recycle in his own ideas and stories. Just pointing out that the author herself recycled a common myth about the creation of the original script. So, nope, not ridiculous.

    And the reason I put "fact" in brackets was to make it "non-factual"...so a debatable point is what I was inferring...a point that, based on other sources, makes it debatable as a factual statement.

    Thanks for pulling out one aspect of what I wrote however and trying to spin what I said in a completely negative light. I am actually quite interested in the book and far from dismissing it in its entirety. That would be arrogant without having read it.
    Last edited by sinkie, Oct 30, 2012
  10. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
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    Not quite. He's said in interviews that he read it between writing the first and second draft. So he was hardly "done writing ANH" by that point. This is one of those so-called "myths" that turns out to be largely accurate. The similarity between the structure of the Force ( Lucas' version, not the fanfic revision ) and the content of Campbell's text is not my imagination.
    Last edited by Arawn_Fenn, Oct 30, 2012
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  11. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
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    Paglia has infuriated and exasperated me on many an occasion--most recently regarding one Sarah Palin--but I absolutely must check this out.

    With every passing year, I become more resolute that Revenge of the Sith is one of the indelible masterpieces of the last decade.
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  12. TOSCHESTATION Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2003
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    1. Were any of these "interviews" from the 70's???

    2. Wasn't it actually prior to writing the THIRD draft that he 'turned to' Campbell for influence/'guidance'??? Doesn't Rinzler's TMOSW mention this?
  13. -NaTaLie- Force Ghost

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    Nov 5, 2001
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    Lucas as the greatest artist? Umm, I don't know. As one of the greatest visual filmmakers of the last 40 years? Absolutely. Add "underappreciated" to that.
  14. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Paglia has always liked the classic mythological stories and heroes over post-modernism.

    She's a bit off-kilter but all genuine thinkers are.
  15. DRush76 Force Ghost

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    Jan 25, 2008
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    It's a message that very few people want to hear, these days.
  16. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    Jul 2, 2004
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    One time I was in a bar and I looked over and she was sitting at a nearby table.
  17. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

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    Jun 9, 2003
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    Either way, Campbell's work bore an influence on how he shaped the scripts.

    I don't know if I agree with Lucas being the "greatest living artist" either, or even the greatest living filmmaker for that matter (hey, Godard ain't dead yet). But he's definitely an underrated talent, and the only major live-action American director from the past few decades whose name I'd offer for consideration (the rest would be foreign, or animators, or both).
  18. sinkie Jedi Master

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    May 27, 2004
    star 1
    Good point. In the years of debating these films, I've come to appreciate his talents and what makes him unique. Though I think he failed to package the PT with a solidly acted story, I don't any longer see issues with his use of special effects, design, world building. Compared to a lot of other things out there, his use of imagery often at least feels serious, subtle, motivated, driven by a vision. I think the accusation that he's effects or even CGI heavy comes from those that misunderstand (myself included) that it is actually the dissatisfaction with the overall story and its execution that allows those things to come to the fore and feel like they are being relied on too much, overused. Opening of AOTC for example. I actually really really like the visuals, the pacing, the execution. It is only within the context of the film that it falls flat for me after what follows.
  19. sinkie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2004
    star 1
    She will be interviewed about this book Thursday on the (Canadian) CBC radio program Q with Jian Ghomeshi which I believe a lot of NPR stations have picked up.
  20. sinkie Jedi Master

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    May 27, 2004
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    Bump for the interview tomorrow (morning here, maybe evening on NPR???)
  21. TOSCHESTATION Force Ghost

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    Jan 17, 2003
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    Either way, Campbell's work was AN influence on the scripts. NOT THE influence on the scripts/treatments/stories, as 1990's-era hagiographies about Lucas/SW would have it. Hidden-Fortress and Flash Gordon were the main influences/impetus in the early days.
    Last edited by TOSCHESTATION, Nov 19, 2012
  22. Alexrd Force Ghost

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    Jul 7, 2009
    star 5
    Does she talk about TPM and AotC as well, or just RotS?
  23. Alexrd Force Ghost

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  24. -NaTaLie- Force Ghost

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    I wonder if the even watched TPM and AOTC
  25. Narutakikun Force Ghost

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    Nov 8, 2012
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    One thing it's important to remember is that Paglia has always seemed to enjoy being something of a contrarian/gadfly. She does that kind of thing a lot, So I'm not particularly surprised that she's done that here.

    Some people just like to kick up dirt. Paglia's one of them. Take what she says with an appropriate grain of salt.
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