Saga Star Wars: "Space Opera" or Simply Sci Fi at its Best?

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Dinos4Ever, Sep 12, 2013.

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What does Star Wars identify most closely as?

Space opera 27 vote(s) 93.1%
Science fiction 3 vote(s) 10.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. Dinos4Ever Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2013
    star 2
    Okay, I have a question. To me, Star Wars has always embodied the quintessential science fiction movie: robots, space battles, laser swords, ray guns, blasters, aliens, the list goes on. But, many Star Wars fans say it is a "space opera", which I don't really get. What is a space opera, and what makes it different from conventional science fiction like Star Trek? And what qualities does Star Wars display that makes it a space opera and not simply one of the greatest science fiction franchises ever created?
    Last edited by Dinos4Ever, Sep 12, 2013
  2. Alexrd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2009
    star 5
    With science fiction, science usually plays an essential role in the plot (e.g: I, Robot, Jurassic Park, Star Trek, etc...).

    Star Wars, on the other hand, is fantasy. The only real difference from other fantasy works is that it's set in space.
  3. Normal_Nerds Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2013
    star 1
    That's exactly what I was going to say.
  4. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    Agreed. 'Space opera' is a bit of glib term that's become popular.

    Dubbing SW as 'Space Opera' is much the same as the way the Godfather saga or Gone With the Wind are often described as 'soap opera' - epic storylines with very basic narratives stretched to their utmost limits (as if the writing was on the same level as a very simple TV drama). It's just a cheap way for critics to dismiss basic storytelling done on a large scale that they might consider too mainstream for their own delicate, sophisticated minds.
    If it's actual rubbish, the critics will call it rubbish, but every so often they'll be faced with something magnificently done with a very basic sensibility, in which case, they'll find a way to trash it - just so everyone knows they're too clever to be sucked in by such fodder.

    The real question is whether Star Wars is fantasy or sci-fi.

    In which case I'd say SW is fantasy. Science fiction is driven by specific concepts (e.g. artificial intelligence, space exploration), while the fantasy genre is focused more upon story arcs and characters - and can occur anywhere or anytime. The 'fantastic' element frees the author from scientific or historical constraints.
    The story at the heart of Star Wars could be easily rewritten to be set in ancient Rome, medieval Japan, the Wild West or the trenches of World War I - however, GL chose to set it in a galaxy far, far away. The fact that much of the story involves space travel, laser guns and aliens is purely incidental.

    Something like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Westworld, Star Trek, even the original novel of Frankenstein - sci-fi. The entire storylines are based around concepts, and couldn't exist without them.
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Sep 13, 2013
  5. Alexrd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2009
    star 5
  6. Vthuil Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2013
    star 4
    @Darth_Nub, I'm not sure where you're getting this view of "space opera" as a pejorative from. In my experience, it simply describes a particular sub-genre of science fiction that has some overlap with "space fantasy". I'm a self-professed "space opera fan", in fact.

    I do agree this isn't really a relevant distinction to be arguing in the case of Star Wars.
    CaptainHamYoyo likes this.
  7. Frank T. Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    I don't think "opera" is a dismissive word. It doesn't matter what critics think.

    Space opera, space fantasy or fantasy are all fair ways to describe Star Wars. Science fiction should be speculative or alternate reality fiction that observes the rules of science. Star Wars has no regard for science.
  8. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    'Space opera' seems to have been a somewhat dismissive term when it was first coined (being derived more from 'soap opera' than opera itself), but has since caught on. The fans took it for themselves.
    I wouldn't really describe it as an actual genre, though, more a general description.

    I'm half inclined to change the poll (and the thread title) if @Dinos4Ever has no objection.
    Vthuil likes this.
  9. Vthuil Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2013
    star 4
    I think it's a sub-genre of science fiction in the same way that, say, cyberpunk is.
    Darth_Nub likes this.
  10. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    Yeah, that sounds about right.
  11. Darth Eddie Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 14, 2013
    star 3
    Star Wars is a serialized epic fantasy romantic suspense thriller motion picture, containing elements of opera, lietmotif, bildungsroman, and magical realism.

    Oh yeah, and it takes place in space.
    Ord-Mantell70 and Mystery_Roach like this.
  12. SlashMan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2012
    star 3
    Science fiction usually has some kind of basis in real life, whereas most of the technology in Star Wars cannot be explained in real life (lightsabers), nor can something like the Force. Star Wars intentionally set itself far apart from our world in order to tell its story.
  13. bstnsx704 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2013
    star 3
    Star Wars is history, politics, religion, mythology, and fantasy dressed up so as to look like science fiction.

    Your eyes can deceive you; don't trust them.
  14. Loupgarou Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 19, 2010
    star 3
    I never thought of Space Opera as negative; it refers to a sweeping story dealing with large concepts on one of the biggest stages of all, Space. It's just a sub-genre and Star Wars is definitely a part of it. It's true that sometimes people will try to act like it makes star wars less smart, as if Techno-babble was the smart part of other science fiction stories. But it really has nothing to do with quality, just with priorities. Star Wars is about a battle between Good and Evil before it's about the technology that plays a role in that battle.
  15. TX-20 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 21, 2013
    star 3
    Fantasy is how I would classify it.
  16. Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2009
    star 3
    Science-fiction often deals with the future of Mankind, is of course set in the future, and plays a great deal on the technological evolution : artificial intelligence, robots, spaceships, space travels etc...

    That's why, to me, Star Wars is a lot more fantasy or space opera than science-fiction actually. Even if some of the traditional Sci-Fi elements are there (spaceships, ray guns, cyborg, technologically advanced background). It takes place "A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away" and it's far from an anticipation on the future of humanity, even if antticipation doesn't necessarily means "science" fiction (Mad Max, post apocalyptic movies etc...)

    Unlike THX 1138, which I'd say is real hard science-fiction.

    But it can still remained attached to the general "science-fiction" genre in movies in a way.

    It really depends on how you precisely define science-fiction in the end.
    Last edited by Ord-Mantell70, Sep 17, 2013
  17. Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2009
    star 3
    Hasn't Lucas himself once referred to Star Wars as "the soap-opera of the Skywalker family" ? ;)

    Think it was just before ANH started filming, when he was devising future sequel novels (Splinter of the Mind's eye and the other) with Alan Dean Foster, if I remember well.

    Anyway, to me, there's an undeniable "opera" element in the Star Wars saga, with the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, and the real machiavelian arc of the PT.
    Last edited by Ord-Mantell70, Sep 17, 2013
  18. bstnsx704 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2013
    star 3

    That's not necessarily the case. Jurassic Park, for example, is set in the then-present 1993 and still deals with many of the important themes and questions that serve as the backbone for science-fiction. Cloning and creating life via artificial means and questioning whether or not humanity has any right meddling with these forces are important concepts in the film.

    "Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should."
  19. Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2009
    star 3
    You're right...

    Let's say it's often set in the future.
  20. Garrett Atkins Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 11, 2013
    star 4
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