Discussion in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Spoilers Allowed' started by The Hellhammer, Feb 13, 2014.
Another great interview (and preamble).
@The Hellhammer should definitely write an Imperial focused novel for the EU.
@The Hellhammer and
@dolphin ! Love this thread...
@dolphin Another excellent entry into this thread.
@dolphin I feel like I should know this, because I've seen you post enough, but I'll ask anyway: When it comes to basketball, which do you like- both the NCAA the NBA or one over the other?
I am partial to the NBA but March Madness is my favorite time in all of sports.
Whatever makes you happy.
Awesome interviews as always!
I agree. The Preambles area amazing. Gotta love the propaganda style images with each interview as well.
I've been derelict in my reading duties here, but I'm all caught up now. Great job, Hellhammer. It was nice to learn a bit more about HanSolo29 and Dolphin, two of our more esteemed regulars.
Call me one of the incurably nosey but I love being a fly on the wall with these interviews. Great stuff!
What I took from this.... I completely forgot about Alta Vista!
Great interview! Thanks for sharing, dolphin!
@The Hellhammer -
Maybe the Empire should consider women.
Thanks to all for the support and feedback, this thread is really great fun to maintain
That being said...
As I have mentioned before, the real life obligations are pressing in rather mercilessly these past couple of months. Now, it's the endgame. Everything is happening at once and the next 20 days will be absolutely hectic. Therefore, in order to maintain the quality and continuity of these interviews the Imperial Spoiler Surveillance Station will be going into hibernation until the 12th of July.
We already have a very special comeback event planned, a reading experience of such magnitude that your browsers simply can't repel it. Stay tuned and thanks for (voluntarily) staying with us so far
Wait, this isn't real life?
We look forward to your return and more interviews.
@dolphin I know we shouldn't have favourites, but I like the cut of jib. Would love to be part of a crew that sparks a Darth Kimball type rumour for Episode VII. Also digging the way you initially got to see the first three movies.
@The Hellhammer seek help
Thanks Darth Punk. That was alot of fun. Back in those days you could call Harry Knowles directly and drop rumors (which were then disseminated across the internets).
ATTENTION ALL HANDS
After a temporary communications blackout, we are pleased to announce that our facilities are fully functional once more. The crew is back to it's full strength and our numbers are replenished. Our recruiting stations have been crowded since we've reinstated the time-honored tradition of forceful conscription combined with the threat of planetary annihilation.
Time to start thinking about your future, son.
The times have changed and so have our methods. It is a sad day when a surgical scalpel laced with synox poison has to be replaced by a turbolaser battery pointed at you continent... but we have to adapt! We must think larger and improve our technology to face the new threats that face the Empire! We bring out the heavy guns. There is only one way to fully test the capabilites and endurance of our new crew and the systems they will be using... they must be tested to their limits, both man and machine... there are not many ways to do this, but luckily, there is a special project that has been months in the making, finally ready to see the light of day...
TK-316 standing guard next to the quantum ultra-core servers, where we have stored the first half of the answer to one question from our newest interview.
The Imperial Spoiler Surveillance Station is pleased to announce
1. How did you first come across the Jedi Council forums?
I actually may have been around even before they were officially even CALLED the Jedi Council forums. When I first discovered this website, as early as the the lead-in to the 1997 Special Editions - if not sooner - what we now know as TheForce.Net was still in its infancy, compared to what it is today and what it promises to become. And I suppose I first came across it because I was a young man freshly graduated from art school with no certain idea what to do, confronted with a computer that could now be linked to an Internet so new you still had to listen to that weird high-pitch signal noise when you logged on. And back then, there were very few Star Wars-related websites at all; this was one of the first, and of the websites from those early days, it is one of the few to have lasted and remained relevant.
By the period leading up to the PT I was a regular on the forums; I'm the man you can credit for starting the then-infamous and now-justly-forgotten "All Things Imperial" craze, when I attempted to make sense of how the PT was going to depict Palpatine's rise to power based on what had already been established to date (that was before the EU became a thing you couldn't count on). Having now seen, with the passage of fifteen years, that rise to power all spelled out for me in cinematic form, particularly with TCW factored in, I think, looking back on it now in 2014, that they did a better job than I was imagining back in 1998-1999.
2. What is your fondest Star Wars related memory?
I've got two for you, both fond to me because they involve connections with my parents.
The first concerns my father. Getting along with him was and is a chore, because we're FAR too much alike: both of us are far to closed up emotionally to truly bond - and yet Star Wars is in part about the complicated relationships between fathers and sons, so it resonated with me in a way that it may not with others. But when Jedi came out in 1983, it was with my father that I saw it. And I don't know that he particularly gained anything from it, but I did. I understood that one doesn't have to necessarily LIKE everything about one's father in order to be able to LOVE one's father. And the distinction has stuck with me: in all the times since then where I haven't been able to like my father, I have never not been able to LOVE my father. Star Wars did that for me.
Honestly, just thinking about it makes me miss him; I think I'll give him a call today.
But while my mother and I never had such emotional stumbling blocks, getting her to understand me and my interests was itself a challenge. Still, in the late 1990s, she and I took it upon ourselves to go on a trip to Washington, D.C. (strictly as a dating point, we arrived on the very day the Starr Report and the accompanying evidence regarding the Monica Lewinsky scandal was being delivered to Congress; it stuck with me because it was happening but blocks away from me even as I was unpacking in my hotel room). We saw the usual sights: Arlington, Georgetown, the Holocaust Museum, the Library of Congress, the memorial sites, that sort of thing. We went to Congress Hall, where I looked upon the signature of (according to my mother, at any rate) my maternal ancestor John Stockton (1730-1781), a representative of New Jersey at the Continental Congress and one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence - which, by the way, I would never have discovered if I hadn't gone; the picture of humility, my mother was and is never inclined to be boastful about such matters (which is more than I could claim; if I could ever confirm that ancestry, I'd be boasting about it from here to Greenland).
But I won't lie: sightseeing aside, the specific reason I WANTED to go to Washington was the Star Wars: The Magic of Myth exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute (I still have the ticket stubs). And boy, did I go. I still have the photographs of all the starship models (particularly the Imperial Star Destroyer model), and I still remember how much bigger the Darth Vader costume was than I ever could hope to get. I had that experience with my mother, who DEFINITELY came away from it having a better understanding of why I even LIKED Star Wars. She listened very carefully when the exhibit established the Saga's connections to older mythologies she knew and understood, and based on her expressions I like to think she left that exhibit "getting it." She was certainly more open to my interests afterwards; that very trip we watched the original Planet of the Apes together for the first time - and she got what I saw in it. She never became a geek, to be sure, but she made an effort to meet me halfway, and that was enough.
Star Wars did that for me. It gave me those two precious experiences with my parents that I will always treasure; particularly now, when their health is declining and I know my time with them runs short. I could not like a single thing in Star Wars save for that, and yet that reason alone would still justify its existence to me.
3. What is your favorite Star Wars possesion? (toy, poster, costume, books, comics, various merchandise, etc.)
It's amazing how long I puzzled over the answer to this one, but in a moment of clarity I found it: the original The Art of Star Wars book, edited by Carol Titelman. I remember my father discovering that on the shelf and pointing it out to me at the local mall Waldenbooks. It was 1979, I couldn't have been seven, and Star Wars had actually just caught my attention for the first time via the 1979 rerelease. I took one look at that book and immediately pestered him into buying it for me (for his part, it wasn't that hard a sell).
And I wore that book OUT - it was a softcover edition to begin with, and eventually the pages fell apart, and we had to resort to using a notebook spiral to hold them in place, and even then they began falling out again. I quite literally loved it to death. When they reprinted the book in the 1990s, I purchased it probably within a minute of unexpectedly discovering it on the shelves of the local Barnes & Noble. And still that wasn't enough; when they reprinted it again in 1997 to incorporate material for the Special Edition, I bought it AGAIN. In the pre-recession era, when my company was flourishing and I was rather flush, I ordered the 1979 hardcover first edition - just because I could, and I had never had one. The same thing quite literally goes for all three of the original Art books, by the way, but the first one still ranks as the most important because of the impact it had on my life since.
The reason why, as even I admit, I went batcrap crazy over that book involves not only why I liked that book, but why I chose the career that I chose. I was drawing largely as any child would before I saw Star Wars - admittedly more interested in drawing than most kids I knew, but it was still a nebulous interest. But the first thing I noticed about Star Wars - as I'm sure many others can and will attest - was the level of DETAIL. To go into any great length about how it was revolutionary for Lucas to want a "used" look for his universe would be too much of a diversion; suffice it to say that it caught me simply because I'm one of those guys that notice the little things - the rust, the bolts, the buttons, the lights, etc. Thus I had both a burgeoning interest in art and a definite, if eccentric, interest in little details, interests which Star Wars appealed to within me; and then here came a book in which it was explained to me that those details, all the things I noticed and liked about this movie that had caught my eye, were DELIBERATE, had been designed by people who had artistic talents themselves, and had been put there in the film on purpose.
That crystallized my direction, at least to a degree: my interest in art had been validated, because it had been demonstrated in the pages of that book that such talents could be useful and even sought by people. People needed artists to put details in movies; therefore, regardless of what direction I ultimately chose to take my talent, if I worked hard at it, art was a viable career path. And I learned that the people that do that can become names known by others: McQuarrie, Johnston, and so on. Thus Star Wars had decided, to a certain degree, what I would do with my life: I would be an artist. I am by no means the only person who has said or will say that, but that book probably fixed that decision for me.
A lot of credit for that book, by the way, has to go straight back to Lucas, because he had made a conscious effort to let people know exactly how the sausage was made. A lot of filmmakers really didn't really do so all that much prior to him, and in their defense, most movies don't really smack a culture in the face the way Star Wars did, so such insight perhaps wasn't as widely sought before. I don't know what prompted Lucas to release so much behind-the-scenes material, grateful for it as I am - I have to assume that he had achieved something so mind-blowing for people that not only had he generated interest in how he had done the magic, but at some level he also found himself needing to remind people - and young people in particular - that, realistic as all those details and all those effects made this world seem, at the end of the day it was still artifice, fiction made to look real by ordinary men with extraordinary ideas. Today we have about two generations across the globe that have been raised with the knowledge of every detail that goes into the making of a major feature film as a matter of course - but it had to become a matter of interest to general audiences somehow, at some time; Star Wars had a major part of generating that interest.
I have purchased - and loved - a number of other related products following that first one: I got all the Sketchbooks as well; I got all of McQuarrie's portfolios; I did the same for all of the prequels; my wife understood me enough to green-light my spending $150 or more on the big McQuarrie coffee-table book that came out a number of years ago (again, it was the pre-recession era - and I'm STILL glad I did it); I got bags of production art in the recent Rinzler coffee-table books. But I will ultimately rate that first book, with its delightful - if inexplicable - opening image of a painter's pallette soaring through space right on the opening pages, as my favorite Star Wars possession, in the sense that it has had the greatest and deepest meaning for me.
4. So. A Sequel Trilogy, who would’ve thought. Before the announcement, did you actually expect this to ever happen?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. I was too busy doing what most people were doing: taking George Lucas at his word that there would BE no more (fool that I was). In fact, the truth of it is that at that point, that very year, I was actually very much looking forward to putting Star Wars behind me - for good.
Of course, you might then ask: why would I EVER feel that way, or WANT to? But at that time I had good and solid reasons to, some of them deeply personal and some of them coldly practical.
First, to understand my thoughts, one has to remember the situation in the pre-announcement period: it was becoming obvious to me that the franchise itself was petering out: The Clone Wars, absolutely sterling as it was, couldn't stay on television forever, and there was no indication that a follow-up animated series was being planned or even considered. That years-long tease, the so-called live-action series, never materialized and never would. LucasArts was being managed straight into the ground. LucasBooks' products were degenerating into rotten dreck (more on that in a moment).
Worse still, from 2009 on, LFL's chickens were coming home to roost and the company was on the defensive: the long-awaited backlash of critical flak (which I regard as the natural outcome of resentments in the fan community that had been MANY years in simmering and that LFL itself was partly responsible for) had finally erupted; The Phantom Menace 3D release was, for all intents and purposes, a flop when set against LFL's projected goals, and Red Tails had opened to utter indifference at the box office. Add to that his own repeatedly-stated insistence that he would not be making any more Star Wars films and, furthermore, that no one else would be making them either (Katie Lucas had said on more than one occasion that when her father was gone, there would be no more Star Wars films), and that was more than enough evidence for me to conclude that the franchise was obviously dying, and I could smell the decomposition wafting my way from the Ranch, even in far-off Florida.
And without filmed story content, either on the big or small screen, what was there to propel the franchise forward and keep it fresh? The EU? Please. I held out through the New Jedi Order series by sheer willpower, but I lost interest in that Killik trilogy about a couple pages into Book One, Chapter Two; finally, mid-point through the Legacy of the Force series, I simply threw up my hands and largely walked away from the books altogether. The characters, the situations, the entire galaxy itself no longer resembled anything that truly felt like Star Wars to me, and nothing in them added to the Saga in any meaningful way or made me appreciate the Saga more. The Darth Plagueis novel was a glorious exception, and that book truly rewarded me for my time and met my every expectation; more to the point, it had repercussions for the Saga as a whole - something the books had better do in future if they want to be relevant at all. But books don't propel a franchise forward when that franchise has always been based in the visual medium, and not the printed medium.
Apart from all that, I had just gotten married, and some rather horribly distasteful events befell my beloved wife and I soon after (all of it now in the past and none of it appropriate to relate here; suffice it to say that some of it affected us so deeply that finding solace in a space opera wasn't really cutting it for me anymore), and these books were just too frickin' boring, and life was too frickin' short.
So, having no reason to believe that the franchise had any apparent long-term future, I felt comfortable in thinking to myself: "Well, if Star Wars is going away, perhaps the time HAS come for me to cast off this remnant of my past," to put away childish things as the Biblical saying goes.
After all, being a Star Wars fan can be a HUGE burden sometimes, in some cases LITERALLY so: for instance, we were forced to move a lot during the recession, and of course all those damned books and comics and action figures and posters had to come with us, and it became clear to me that that's a LOT of heavy stuff for someone to move around in a life. That same recession also prevented me from being able to afford new product, so I had been living for four years without buying Star Wars stuff and I hadn't died from lack of it (cool as it is, it still isn't as essential to a man's life as food or shelter). Furthermore, it was keeping me locked in my childhood, I felt, when at that time I had experienced enough pain for me to believe that I simply could no longer FEEL child-like anymore, and when my duties as an adult and head of a household seemed to no longer allow for that kind of mindset in any case.
By 2012, all these factors in my life had reached critical mass. All this trouble, all this time and money, spent over decades - by an adult - on a franchise that wasn't meant primarily FOR adults? With me now entering my forties? And with said franchise apparently set on getting ready to quietly die anyway? Why NOT admit that it was time to grow up and walk away? That, at least, was my thinking. And with that decision, rather like a decades-long junkie making the decision to quit drugs because he had finally grown past them, I confess that I actually felt liberated, unburdened. I felt FREE.
Cue the announcement.
I was sitting in this office in my home, at this same desk, in the same chair I'm sitting in right now, when it happened. I'll cover my reactions in full in elsewhere, but with all the set-up I've just laid out, one aspect of that reaction needs to be said here and now: My thoughts - I swear to God this happened - went to Pacino's oft-quoted line from Coppola's oft-derided film The Godfather Part III: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."
And so within a day I completely and utterly gave up the notion of giving away the books, the toys, ALL that crap; I gave up the notion of giving up the franchise and damned it for the foolish idea that it must have been, and myself for thinking it (although, at 11:59 on October 29, 2012, it frankly still seemed like a great idea). I probably also gave up the entire notion of embracing adulthood, but what can you do? Adulthood is overrated anyway.
Oh, Star Wars... "I can't quit you..."
5. What was your initial reaction to the news of the Disney sale and the upcoming Sequel Trilogy?
Funnily enough, after the shock had worn off, I very quickly decided that Disney was perhaps the only company who COULD do the franchise any justice or even WANT to. Had Lucas sold it all to Fox, for instance, I could never have that security; Fox was always merely the happy beneficiary of something they neither understood nor actively contributed to, and their record with other franchise material hasn't exactly inspired confidence either. Nor could any other major studio claim any better. Of all the possible buyers, only the Walt Disney Corporation has any sensibilities that even REMOTELY overlap with those of Lucasfilm or of the franchise - particularly when you consider that Lucas' stated goal was to offer LFL protection inside a larger structure that would have a vested interest in keeping it healthy. It could never be anyone but Disney who purchased Star Wars; no one else was even in their league. Lucas knew what he was doing.
It's even more important that this is happening at a time when Disney itself has been undergoing a little soul-searching, a little reminder to itself of what it's here for. I can't conceive of anything else a film like Saving Mr. Banks could ultimately represent (aside from some absolutely fantastic character portrayals), other than a kind of mission statement for the organization as a whole, and it comes in the form of Walt's (admittedly made-up) line: "Life is a harsh sentence to lay on a person." That's WHY everyone at Disneyland smiles so annoyingly sweetly for you when you visit there; it's why the Disney brand (at its best) always tries to keep us in touch with that part of ourselves which we treasure more and more the weaker it gets: our innocence. That's the only relief our harsh sentence allows us, and it's that which Disney always has tried to nurture in people. It's a fine thing for a company about to take on Star Wars to remind itself of such basic principles like this before it does so.
And frankly, it's something I needed to see myself before stepping into the ST: I was utterly ASTOUNDED at how much I found myself identifying with the E.L. Travers character, particularly in the sadder moments - never mind all the cute quips she makes at Disney's expense (I adored the moment where she looks at the Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal and says "Poor A.A. Milne..."). Travers had an INCREDIBLE amount of pain and sadness inside, and no escape valve for it. Someone so emotionally introverted frankly NEEDED a dose of Tom Hanks' nothing-if-not-extroverted Walt Disney, who charges into any scene he's in with gusto, backed by a musical score straight out of Aaron Copeland. People like Travers eloquently make the case for the need for people like Disney. And, I realized by the end of that film, I MYSELF needed what he was selling: a little joy.
In short, Saving Mr. Banks was a reminder that one can only wallow in one's pain for so long before it destroys you; and I saw what it had done to Travers. I needed to find my innocence again if I was ever going to properly appreciate new Star Wars films (they're not exactly for cynics, you know). That film reminded me of that crucial fact. That the Disney company gave that film official sanction, when it pulled no punches about how people view the Disney brand, good and bad, says that this company's in the right frame of mind for this enterprise, and that such a company is very much the right hands to put LFL's future in.
Other matters, like their good handling of the Marvel property and their gradual but noticeable efforts to bring the Muppet brand back into prominence (the Jim Henson's Creature Shop show is a treat to watch, and it appeals to the fans of Henson's more mature side, the Dark Crystal/Labyrinth side, even while the recent Muppets Most Wanted film evokes the more goofy, comedic Muppet Show side of Henson); these things stand out as proof enough that Disney's at least TRYING to do something that's true to the source material they've purchased. A hundred thousand things could go wrong with the new Star Wars films, even now; but Disney's track record to date makes it clear that it won't be because they're not trying to do it right.
6. Were you around for the PT speculation? If so, what’s your favorite moment from that period?
Boy, was I ever. And boy, was I ever involved in the discussions.
I don't know if this is a FAVORITE moment per se, but it's the one that still sticks out to me. It's the sheer frustration I had with people who absolutely INSISTED that Palpatine and Darth Sidious were in fact different people, or that one was a clone of the other, or that one was possessing the other's body, or some variant of something that people had basically already read in the Dark Empire comics. That was incredibly frustrating, and it was just wrong on their part - based on the evidence in the films themselves - even to make such an assumption, to say nothing of them then stubbornly digging their heels in and metaphorically declaring that assumption to be the hill they wanted to die on.
To start with, it's really bad first principles (to say nothing of completely unoriginal) to just look at a comic book, a novel, or anything else and assume that sets the rules for how a story is going to be written - particularly if it's being written by George Lucas, who cares about sticking to the letter of the EU about as much as I care about mud. There were a lot of people who just based their perception of what this Saga is on the EU and could care less about anything else; they couldn't see PAST the EU and think of something more interesting, so they went with the clone bit that Tom Veitch came up with years before. And I'm seeing this same thing all over the place now, with the ST coming. People want to see this or that thing or character or place from the EU, and that's all - never mind whether or not the filmmakers could actually be making something BETTER. This is one more reason the EU has long needed to be brought to heel; it can stifle creative thinking if you let it.
But getting back to Palpatine/Sidious, from The Phantom Menace alone it was clear as day that Palpatine and Sidious COULDN'T be different people, and that the character was simply one with multiple layers to him. There were so many subtle, sly winks and nods that it couldn't have been otherwise:
1.) First, Ian McDiarmid's performance: the in-depth or false-bottom language to his words and tone made it clear to me that one word of his had more than one meaning, and the most important meaning, when read properly, was usually sinister and something that favored Palpatine in some way.
2.) Just tracking both character's movements through that film alone, knowing which one was where at what time, showed me that the mechanics of the story allowed for a person with two identities to be able to function exactly as he was doing in TPM, and to effectively juggle both identities depending on whom he's talking to.
3.) Palpatine's apartment is red and we know the Emperor likes red.
4.) Speaking of Palpatine's apartment, did anyone else notice that Palpatine and Sidious have the exact same balcony in that film? Check the design of the railing behind Amidala in the scene in Palpatine's apartment, and the one behind Sidious and Maul in the other scene where they meet - they're identical.
5.) When Mace Windu asks Yoda which Sith was destroyed, master or apprentice, they then cut right to Palpatine in profile. BIG hint.
6.) The music for the victory celebration at the end is largely dominated by the Emperor's theme in a major key rather than a minor one (hidden only by the foolish, unsuspecting children singing their "la-la-las"; in other words, it was meant to represent that Sidious was happy about things. Why would he feel that way if he'd just lost his apprentice and the Trade Federation's grip on Naboo, unless that wasn't what he really wanted? No, he'd GOTTEN what he really wanted when he was elected.
I saw ALL that, and yet still a bunch of people insisted on staying as blind as the people of the Republic itself when it came to this man. But one quote from someone supporting my position remains fixed in my memory to this day, though I have no memory of who wrote it: "Palpatine is Sidious. BET on it."
Then cut to AOTC, where Palpatine has several scenes but Sidious just one brief one at the end. This meant that if there was ever going to be a "Palpatine-Sidious-clone-Dark-Empire-did-this-already-for-God's-sake" story angle to this trilogy, it was going to have to be all summed up in ROTS - and in just two hours, that film was NEVER going to have the time to do that AND do everything ELSE it needed to do. Every possible angle - from the beginning - indicated that these two characters were the same person. It was the simplest explanation, and simplicity in storytelling is essential. And yet people were determined to defend their losing position up to the very last, some of them even wiling to openly pick fights over it.
Of course, in the end (and I DO mean at the VERY end, with the leaking of material from ROTS), I was proven entirely correct, and all those hotheads had to eat crow, and I took my place on the RIGHT side of history, and that moment did feel pretty sweet - so maybe I CAN call this my favorite moment from that period!
7. Just how spoiled do you plan to be for Episode 7?
Entirely spoiled. COMPLETELY spoiled. I mean, who am I kidding? I know damn well I'm not going to be able to hold myself back from reading a spoiler the INSTANT it comes out, and I won't lie to myself or to you by pretending I will or even could. I couldn't even hold back from getting spoiled for Jedi; I got the Marvel comic adaptation and read the whole thing in something like ten minutes.
And that was when I was eleven; it hasn't gotten any better since. I bought the novelizations first for ALL of the prequels, and read them - and LIKED them. I still recall a rather marvelous Saturday poolside read for the Sith novelization, and that was a damn well-written book to be enjoying poolside...
So yes, I intend to make my camp here, on the "spoilers allowed" side of the forums, for the entire ST. I'm sorry, Hellhammer, but you and the rest of the people here will have to put up with me for at least another SEVEN YEARS!
8. What is your favorite theory concerning Episode 7 from these boards?
As a rule, I tend not to go by what I'D like to see in these movies; I learned at least a decade and a half ago that it pays NOT to have theories of my own because to bring expectations like that into a movie like this is disastrous. For that reason, I tend to not pay attention to theories in general, whether mine or anyone else's. I'm not above throwing theories out on occasion, but I'm under no illusions that the screenwriters have any sensibilities or wants that overlap with my own.
That said, I'll tell you a theory I HAD, in the days before it was certain there would ever BE an Episode VII, VIII or IX. A little exposition: about three or so years ago, when the only Star Wars-related subject on everyone's plate was the state of the books, there was much talk about the need to kill Luke Skywalker, or at least to make better and smarter use of his character in said books. But of course (as we're reminded on a daily basis now) killing Luke is one of those third rails of the Saga - you can't touch it without exciting controversy, not the least of which is HOW to do it (if we're going to do it at all) in a way that's appropriate for a character we've come to love so much that NO death seems appropriate. Take a look at the recent controversy regarding the Archie comic character being shot dead saving a friend from a bullet - a heroic death, to be sure, but one that still rankles with people. If a heroic and selfless death doesn't suit Archie, what possible kind of death would? How DO you kill a character that iconic? It's no different with Luke Skywalker.
Immediately after the airing of the episode Overlords on TCW (which I'm record as regarding as one of my favorites), I saw the answer: you kill off a character like that by NOT killing him, at least not conventionally. Mortis offered the way forward. Assuming they wanted to keep close to the EU (which I now regard as mere wishful thinking on my part), I speculated to myself that they could use the TCW animation crew and essentially do a direct-to-video feature-length story in which Luke and Ben somehow re-discover Mortis and in which Luke is given similar tests and essentially asked the same question: stay and fix the balance, or the troubles in the real world keep on keeping on. But Luke, being selfless in a way Anakin never was, probably WOULD accept the offer, say goodbye to his son and tell him to keep doing him proud, send him off to tell the others what happened to him, and stay on Mortis.
What were the advantages of this plan, at least to me? Because Mortis represented Avalon, or the Undying Lands: in other words, it was a place where Luke, rather than dying and ending (or at least getting his individuality sucked into the Cosmic Force), can enjoy a form of eternal rest without the need for an ugly death scene. The EU had been making repeated references to Luke receiving deep, hard-to-heal wounds (which never became plot points later, I might add); Avalon was the island Arthur was taken to in order to heal from his last wound, as Frodo was taken to the Undying Lands to find rest from his wounds. Could not Mortis serve the same story function? For that matter, since Qui-Gon proved that dead people with the right knowledge can appear in Mortis, that would have been a simple way to undo the most-unpopular death of Mara Jade in the books. The story, I speculated, could end with Ben flying off and Luke, standing alone (as if he was in ANH looking off into the twin suns) watching his son fly off, only to be joined by Mara, and the two happily join hands to one last rousing rendition of that "twin suns" version of the Force theme ringing triumphantly as their son vanishes in the distant sky. Credits.
It was an idea that, for one brief moment, I THOUGHT had some merit. All the proper handling of writing off his character with none of the mess. Of course, two weeks later, Ghosts of Mortis upended the whole idea, but... (shrugs). Ah, to see Star Wars just in terms of the books - how naive I was then!
9. And the least favorite?
And mention of the books leads me right into answering THIS question, because when you get right down to it, my least favorite theories now are the ones that DO attempt to keep the books alive or factor their elements into the story. I'll grant that I risk appearing a hypocrite for discussing a rather EU-heavy theory of my own just one question ago and then bagging on such theories in this question - but my idea was FOUR YEARS ago, back when the books still appeared to have something of a place in the scheme of things. This mindset has since been entirely surpassed by events, at least to me. The books are now hopelessly stuck on the box that is yesterday's news.
But then I may have to ask myself if I'm ready for their possibly using EU-related concepts in the ST. As we'll discuss below, there's at least SOME potential for them to go the Emperor Reborn route with this story, based on what little information has been learned. But the problem I have with their doing things like that is the same problem I have with us here on the forums having ideas like that: it speaks to a failure of imagination, an inability to think BIGGER and GRANDER. Even my own idea, which gave above, completely fails from a lack of willingness to have bigger ideas, from a lack of willingness to think outside the EU box.
Short version: anything involving the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn will be seen by me as a cowardly fall-back idea. If he IS in the film, I fear a Star Trek Into Darkness situation: in a universe of now nearly-unlimited storytelling potential, they went with Khan, and they put him there solely for the sake of (so they thought) keeping fans happy (only to alienate them further by completely mishandling his character). I now fear that they'll just decide to put Thrawn in because every fan and their brother has been asking about him. And he wasn't THAT good a character to begin with; he was an effective military tactician, yes, and his enthusiasm for art was a nice little character quirk, true enough, but is he impressive enough as a villain to hang an entire film trilogy on this guy? Not following on the heels of Darth Sidious, he isn't.
10. Describe your ideal Villain in the ST and who would you cast to play him?
This brings us to one of the major problems with crafting a sequel to the OT: ensuring that the villain won't be anticlimactic in some way. You see, the OT had been built on a progression Lucas either had planned or discovered along the way, in which he first established Vader as one among several villains In Episode IV, and then built him into the principal villain of Episode V, and then revealing that there's an even greater villain behind him for Episode VI - a villain who was built into the principal villain of the PT and was quite literally overthrown at the end of the OT. Basic logic dictates either that the villain be the same one throughout the Saga, or that Sidious be revealed as having an ever greater villain behind him who is revealed for the ST (and I have a VERY hard time accepting Sidious, at that point in his life, being a front for an even more powerful villain that he would answer to). Assuming they don't actually stoop to going with the Emperor Reborn approach, how does one then build a better villain for the sequel? And if they don't do that, any villain they do produce risks being seen as a lesser character, somebody less impressive and terrifyingly evil than Darth Sidious was. And if that's the case, the ST can neither be a satisfying story in its own right nor a satisfying conclusion to the Saga as a whole.
As for who I'd cast, again, I'm going to let them surprise me - so long as they keep such considerations as I've stated in mind. But when my wife happened to notice the rumor that Adam Driver was being considered for the main villain, she expressed the thought that he seemed too damn scrawny for the part - and I agreed, save for the fact that certain features on Driver's face reminded me of those of Ian McDiarmid for some reason. I have no idea what that portends for the ST, but if there's even a kernel of truth to that rumor, it hints at the direction they seem to want to go regarding the ST's villain. Do I WANT them to go that way, when I frankly stomp on others for being so unoriginal as to just go with Dark Empire's plotline? No, it wouldn't be my preference, but if they do choose that route, I'll judge it by the execution. That's how I elected to judge the previous resurrection of Sidious (it worked, but it only worked once; to continue doing it for the other two stories in that trilogy, Dark Empire II and Empire's End, just made the character utterly boring, to say nothing of making the concept of death itself completely toothless and leeching all tension from the story); hell, it's how I judged the resurrection of Darth Maul (it was rather thin on explanation, but I found that I ended up liking what they did with the character's arc so much that it justified my suspending any disbelief I had).
11. And the Hero?
There, I confess I don't have the first clue. All I can say is that this is going to have to be a character that can realistically follow in Luke's footsteps and carry on his cause. Because this has been to date a generational story, that Hero is going to have to probably be a child of Luke's, though even that is by no means guaranteed at this point. Whatever gender they choose, however they choose to write the character, I'm quite prepared to let them surprise me - save for one consideration: the character HAS to be seen to go through Joseph Campbell's steps of the Hero's Journey in a way that is both true to the rules he identified and unique for that character.
I understand that there are people that are tired of that now oft-used (and oft-abused) set of rules for character growth and plot development, but Star Wars pioneered it, and it falls to Star Wars to make the best possible execution of that set of rules. There are limits to the amount of innovation one can introduce at this point without compromising the spirit of the Saga; or, as I've put it numerous times before and will probably put it again beforte the end: you can't make Star Wars better by making it NOT Star Wars.
12. Every Star Wars movie needs awesome supporting characters. Any ideas for those?
I have even less of a clue about supporting characters than I do about the Hero. Here too, I'm more than prepared to sit back and say "Let's see what you got," and have a reasonable expectation that I'll be happy with the results. That there will BE supporting characters in the new trilogy was always a foregone conclusion - that R2-D2 and C-3PO will be present can be taken as a given at this point, and Chewbacca can be counted on to be a safe bet as well. With those three characters already established and present, how much room will there to give proper screen time to other supporting characters? I just don't know.
If I could make any suggestion, it's not that Jar Jar Binks never return to the screen (I just don't think that's realistic, and in any case I don't really have any issues with the character anymore), but that the writers and director learn from the lessons the controversy surrounding that character. First, Star Wars has always been about complexity of characterization, and to have any one-note character does a disservice to the character, the film and the Saga (it's only when TCW began adding some complexity to Jar Jar that he truly began to work as a character). Second, Star Wars works best when the humor is both sophisticated and organic to the situation and to the character, not when it's shoved in by means of awkward slapstick gags. Finally, if you're going to use digital effects to create a supporting character, always use restraint when animating that character, or you'll just distract your audience.
13. Any special cameos or easter eggs you’d like to see in Episode 7?
I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that the PT burned me out on cameos. There were more of them than were needed, and they were usually the children of the filmmakers themselves, either acting badly or just sitting/standing there with bored or impatient faces that clearly said they weren't interested in being there on that hot set in that heavy costume. Even Lucas himself, in his own ROTS cameo, was probably not needed; I'm sure it was fun, but is that the purpose of a movie? To have fun sticking yourself in it? Or is it to tell a story that engages the audience, rather than doing something that risks taking them out of the story you've spent God knows how long trying to get them caught up in?
And for that matter, assuming it's a different kind of cameo, with a major figure involved, that only makes it worse. If I'm caught up in something, do I really want to be made to divert my attention, even for a moment, to say "Hey, look, it's Warrick Davis!" or "Hey, look, it's THIS guy or THAT girl!" Stop taking me out of the movie, please. I'm trying to immerse myself in this universe and I don't wish to be distracted, thank you very much.
A film is usually better and more effective when it DOESN'T have cameos, easter eggs, or any attempt whatsoever to "wink" at the audience. That works for comedies only, and Star Wars isn't a comedy; in that venue, the "wink" is the kiss of death. I can't STAND the fourth wall being broken in these kinds of movies, particularly in Star Wars, where maintaining the illusion of reality from frame first to frame last is absolutely essential. The best non-comedy films out there have no instances of the director or other filmmakers involved attempting to get "cute" with the audience by making references or showing faces that the audience is supposed to notice, but the characters themselves are not. And if they DO choose to do that, there had best be a damned good story-related reason to do it, or it's just not worth it.
So please, Mr. Abrams and company, let's not get cute in that fashion. Let's get SERIOUS.
14. This one’s a bit tougher than it seems at first glance. We don’t have any facts so let’s just go by gut feeling. How good do you think Episode 7 will be? Are you optimistic? Pessimistic? Reserved? Will it be great? Abominable? Average?
Tough as it may be to answer, one thing I can say with confidence is that I'm optimistic.
First, regardless of any other consideration, all of the people involved are people who really passionately LIKE the franchise and WANT to make this film. That comes with risks of its own, to be sure - one can be too precious with the material, too reverential - but that's still better than the risks that come from people making a film that either don't understand or don't care about the material, or don't want to be there. Fortunately, there's just no sign of that here: Kennedy, Abrams, Arndt, Kasdan, and their respective staffs all seem determined not to phone this one in. By definition, a crew and cast set on bringing their A-game increases the chances that it's likely to be "good."
This doesn't mean that there won't be missteps, of course, but I know they won't come from being careless or disrespectful of the material. The recent departure of Michael Arndt and the rumors surrounding it have illustrated to me that, even when there are arguments among the people making this film, those arguments are being held between people that are all concerned with what decision is best for the film and the franchise. I've seen what happens when this goes on: The Clone Wars was staffed by people who understood and respected the material, and often had passionate debates about what writing decisions to make based on their genuine love of the material. The result is that though there were missteps there too on occasion, we got some fantastic moments on that series that can stand proudly with some of the best moments of the films.
If THAT'S that attitude that governs the decision-making processes of the people making Episode VII, then my gut feeling is that we'll be just fine.
15. Is there a particular, weirdly specific scene that you’ve come up with in great detail that you’d love to see in the ST, regardless of how plausible that is?
Actually, yes, and "wierdly specific" is probably the best description of it...
It's actually something that probably couldn't and shouldn't be done until Episode IX, because it's intended to be an interesting way to pay off R2-D2 as a character. Granted, the droids' primary story function is to be the Greek chorus commenting on the action, looking around at all these epic, emotional events going on and shrug because it's all above their heads, as it is ours. They're there to say "What fools these mortals be," in so many words. But they're still characters, individuals, and one would think that by the end of the Saga they'd deserve a little moment that wraps them up AS individual characters.
So here's my take on that: you'll probably recall how in most of Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob films, Jay gets all the dialogue save for one moment in each film when Bob gets a line, usually a crucial line because it pays off something either dramatically or comedically. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back probably had the best such moment when Bob, unable to take Jay's constant prattling anymore, finally grabs him by the lapels and yells straight into his face at the top of his lungs.
I'd love to see something like that happen with R2-D2: let C-3PO go on and on about something (God knows what; the story will determine that) until you can begin to see R2-D2 begin to shudder uncontrollably on his two feet until finally, at last, he lets loose with a blue streak of beeps and other sounds that are utterly incomprehensible to us in the audience, but ENTIRELY comprehensible to Threepio. Let it sound generally like someone on a Joe Pesci-style rant, and unlike Artoo's usual dialogue, which clocks in at a couple seconds per line, let it go on for a while. Twenty or thirty seconds. Hell, a MINUTE. TWO minutes. It would be Ben Burrt's masterpiece.
And let Threepio say nothing, but react with a shocked expression like he's never been talked to that way in his life. And then have Artoo roll off, having finally said his piece AND gotten the last word (after nine films); at best, Threepio could have a quick line to button the scene, possibly something to the effect of "I've never heard you use such language!" and of course they'd be fine by the end of the film and the Saga; but at last Artoo will have shut up, for one brief, shining moment, the Man with the Golden Mouth.
16. Congratulations. You’ve been contacted by The Powers That Be to create a ten episode Star Wars series. Live action, animated, CGI… it’s up to you. Give us a short synopsis.
The first thing I would tell them is that I'm not interested in doing a ten-episode Star Wars series. I'd be interested in doing a full series, or nothing.
Truth be told, The Clone Wars has opened up the playing field considerably for Star Wars storytelling, and it's that model that ought to be followed more often than any ten-episode model. If I had to go with what I myself dream for the Saga (and it is ONLY my own pipe-dream, I emphasize), I'd have arranged for a similar series to TCW being set during the Classic Era, involving Luke, Leia and the gang, set in and around the films of that trilogy much as TCW was for its respective trilogy. They could expand on the course of the Civil War in this period, giving the major film events like Alderaan, Yavin, Hoth and Endor greater meaning.
TCW clearly demonstrated that the potential for layered, complex storytelling was there, and I can't imagine that there'd be nothing to go into. Never mind anything going on between Luke, Han or Leia (although that WOULD be part of the interest) - the potential maneuverings between Vader and Sidious alone in this period seem so potentially interesting to watch that they just beg for a series. Like TCW, they can also take a chance to expand on the lesser characters (you think Piett couldn't benefit from a little arc through the series? Have him fueding with Ozzel for a while before they lead into the movie where Ozzel's killed off, to give both characters greater depth) or, yes, even have certain TCW characters make the rare occasional guest-star appearance (just for instance, assuming Rex survived into the OT era, what would he be like? If he met up with Vader, would he sense something was up about him, something that felt familiar to him? And how would Vader take it if he broached the subject?)
Same with the Sequel Trilogy, once it's all done and out there, and the means can be discovered to craft a more expansive story onto it in the form of another animated series for THAT trilogy. Simply put, for the sake of both storytelling and simple symmetry, there should be one animated series per trilogy. And, now that Rebels stands ready to demonstrate the storytelling potential in BETWEEN trilogies as well as in the middle of them, I'm sure that I should also add a series set between the OT and the ST as well. Undoubtedly there's a lot of story there to be covered. And we covered an incredible amount of ground with just ONE series; I can only imagine what could be covered by my dream-plan. But as it is ONLY a dream, I need to treat it as such - still, it's a dream that I believe makes sense.
17. Episodes X, XI and XII - yea or nay? Why?
I'm going to have to say nay.
In the first place, there was never any great expectation regarding those episodes; one can make the case, based on the available evidence, that they were indeed at least thinking about VII, VIII and IX for some time, which is what gave so much impetus to the expectation that there would indeed be a Sequel Trilogy someday. It was always just taken as a matter of course, inside and outside Lucasfilm for many years, that VII, VIII and IX were a real possibility, but that X, XI and XII were far less so, if indeed they were anything but an ephemeral "wouldn't it be interesting if?" scenario that was otherwise never given any serious consideration.
In the second, there's just more symmetry to the structural concept of three trilogies of three films each. When one gets to four trilogies, the symmetry goes out of whack. And on this, wierd and eccentric as it is, I just LIKE symmetry in this Saga. It's a concept that's has been pre-built into the Saga by means of Lucas' oft-tried "rhyming" scheme, using different characters in the same situations to allow for a broader range of reaction to such a situation. What rhymes better than three-three-three? Besides, trinities are a spiritual concept, and it is clearly Star Wars, if any franchise ever does or could, that fundamentally bases its brand of action/adventure storytelling on the spiritual. Why compromise that by destroying that almost-sublime symmetry with one trilogy too many?
18. Let’s talk about the Saga in general a bit. A classic question - favorite movie?
The most truthful answer is the go-to answer: The Empire Strikes Back. The reasons have to be as myriad as there are sand grains, so I'll refrain from listing them all: suffice it to say that I was the perfect age for it to make the perfect impression upon me.
What's most important to know is that it's the film that made me a FAN. The first film simply grabbed my interest creatively and artistically; the second gave me a rabid have-to-know interest in everything related to the franchise from that moment to this one. I suppose it couldn't have been otherwise, given that the film had just drilled into me the shocking lesson that I can be taken by surprise by things I don't know about regarding this universe, even when the evidence was somewhat there in front of me the entire time. Perhaps I had resolved never to be taken by surprise again; incredibly ironic, given that the thing I most want for the Sequel Trilogy is to be taken by surprise again!
The other thing to note is that it's the film I go to the most when I need, at some basic level deep inside myself, a reward for when they're something going well in my life or a comfort for when there's something going wrong in my life. I'll go into more depth on that in answering the next question, but that's a place I afford to not just my favorite Star Wars film, but one of my favorite films.
19. Which scene from the Saga had the strongest emotional impact on you?
Okay, I have two answers for this question, both of them from The Empire Strikes Back, and they both generate great little anecdotes. These are scenes I like to go to when I really need either comfort food or a treat; and as you'll see, they sometimes are both at the same time.
The first is the Revelation Scene. Ah, yes, that beautiful, immortal, sublime moment. The eight-year-old filmgoing boy's 9/11; that moment where what he thought he knew about things was now fallen to bits, where he learned that he could not necessarily trust his friends or mentors to be truthful to him, and where he realized that the world was more shocking and dangerous than he had thought - and that it promised little aid or comfort. And yet I praise it as I will only one other (we'll get there); the view of a forty-year-old towards that scene is obviously going to be different than that of the same being as an eight-year-old, so now I treat myself to it in moments such as this:
As I've said, my family and I had been through a few things and we had been forced to essentially swim against the tide for a few years. But as Return of the Jedi illustrated, all such dark times must eventually come to an end (unless Disney/LFL thinks they can get another trilogy out of the franchise, that is. ), and finally the day came when we left all that behind and started the task of rebuilding things, settling at last into a place of sanity and stability. And what did I choose to celebrate it with? Aside from discarding my sobriety for the night, I watched the Revelation Scene alone five times, almost as if on a loop, watching Mark Hamill's confidence try to hold, wilt, and die as he understands, at a gut level, that Vader IS his father (truly his greatest on-screen acting moment to date - his voice acting career is its own magnificent thing). I drank that moment up repeatedly, and to the dregs, with the same vigor with which I drank the wine: "I love watching this kid's will snap like an old pretzel!" I shouted passionately to my wife - who, bless her, nodded and smiled with tolerance and love and let the tipsy kid in an adult suit have his way.
It was a GLORIOUS moment.
That one story ought to be enough for any answer to such a simple question, but since you knew you were never going to get that from me, I'll discuss in brief my other favorite scene: Yoda's monologue, in which he discusses the Force with a half-believing Luke; in fact, pretty much the entire sequence is something I'll watch repeatedly, much as I watched the Revelation Scene, but for different reasons. Back when we all still WERE in a time of troubles, that scene was the one that gave me peace. If I had to answer why, I'd say that it was that scene, when I was still but eight, that awakened an interest in matters of spirituality (which only means that Lucas actually achieved what he had set out to do), and so it was there that I went when I needed to FEEL spiritual. It was undoubtedly the seed for all my interests that came after, including and especially Joseph Campbell. That scene laid a lot of groundwork for The Me That I Am (but then, that's a running theme for this entire discussion, isn't it?).
Of course, that film, and that scene, has limits as a wellspring of spiritual comfort. It is neither writ nor scripture, most assuredly not a full and complete theological mode of thought - and yet it DID bring me comfort when I most needed it. And that's enough.
P.S. - I might add that it never hurts to watch that sequence in a condition not unlike THIS charming fellow...
20. If there was one thing you could change about anything in the Saga - what would it be?
Honestly, at this point, there isn't anything. I will grant that I'd like to see the original version of the OT cleaned up and released officially, and that there are a few decisions about the revisions to those films that I'd reverse if I could (that damned rock in front of R2-D2 is one), but in terms of changing something related to the story or plot, such questions right now are pointless: the very fact that we're now going to have a Sequel Trilogy means that we can't properly judge whether everything in Episodes I-VI works without seeing those films alongside Episodes VII-IX. The context of the ST will ultimately determine for me whether the PT and OT are fine as they are or not. Such an attitude is correct considering that we were told that the PT would make us look at the OT entirely differently, and it did; we can expect no less from the ST.
21. What was your least appropriate use of a Star Wars quote in real life?
I'm fortunate enough to say I dodged that bullet, since I can't remember any incident where I used Star Wars quotes in conversation outside of these forums. I would imagine, though, that if someone's sitting on the toilet, saying "Evacuate? In our moment of triumph?!" to them would probably not be entirely welcome, or appreciated...
But I will confess I wish I've always had regarding a line you hear a lot in Star Wars: I've always wanted to point at someone dismissively and then say to a bunch of guys, "Take him/her away!" I don't even know where the aforementioned someone would be taken TO, to say nothing of where I ever got these guys to do the taking (Did I hire them? Did I rent them?); I just know I've always wanted to do that.
22. If you lived in GFFA, what would be your ideal occupation?
Well, that's easy: assuming I couldn't be the Emperor (because it's just common sense to establish yourself as the alpha in any imaginary setting), there's no question that I'd have the same job I have now. I'm an artist and illustrator, and I've been fortunate enough to make a decent living at it, but that's on boring old Earth: can you imagine the vistas I would have before me to paint if I lived THERE? In a galaxy with skies that are blood-red, or lavender, or teal, or any color that's possible for a sky to be in physics (and some that flat-out aren't)? Or perhaps I could paint faces that here on Earth would be called surrealism, but there would just be called a proper portrait. The possibilities are endless, as is the enjoyment of them. After all, painting a single sun setting is majestic; painting TWO setting at the same time, well, that's just plain awesome.
23. Favorite Force ability?
There's really no contest. I want the ability to fire Force lightning at people. I have a lot of people I'd like to see in the fetal position and screaming.
24. Let’s move away from Star Wars for a bit. Have any hobbies or interesting pastimes?
Recently, I've taken up an old love of mine: Wagnerian opera. Though we wanted to move away from Star Wars momentarily, and though one would think on first glance that Wagner has as much to do with Star Wars as French does with classical Greek, in fact there are astounding coincidental similarities as well as some very stark differences:
First and foremost, Richard Wagner, like George Lucas, correctly figured that he would find a deeper resonance for his stories if he used a mythological basis to hang them on (in Wagner's case, the semi-invented mythology of Germanic prehistory; in Lucas', the fully-invented mythology of a long-ago and far-away galaxy), and with the scholarship available to him (which was more than a century behind that of Lucas; Joseph Campbell was not yet born, and his intellectual progenitor, Adolph Bastian, but a young man when Wagner began the forty-year labor to complete his Ring Cycle), crafted an art that did indeed strike home with an audience that sorely lacked a mythology to call its own and needed one (in Wagner's case, late nineteenth-century Germans; in Lucas' case, late twentieth-century Americans).
That very mythological approach by definition means that a lot of mythological and psychological motifs can be found in common between the Star Wars saga and Wagner's operas: two characters, one male and the other female, discover they're in fact twin siblings only AFTER they've done some questionable things for siblings (Die Walkure); a sword belonging to a character's father is given to that character (who never knew his father) by someone who claims to know where it came from while leaving crucial facts to himself (Siegfried); two characters in love are forced to keep their relationship a secret and cannot express their love for each other publicly, their bond known by the female character's handmaiden (Tristan und Isolde); a villainous character pretends to be a nice person while secretly manipulating others to bring his evil designs to fruition (Gotterdammerung); the central problem at the heart of the story, the problem that drives all others, is ultimately resolved by a certain chosen character who, at the climax of the story, redeems the world (Gotterdammerung). That's just a fraction of the similar motifs I could cite, but we don't have all year.
And while we're on the subject of motifs, it should be noted that Wagner is the composer most specifically credited with introducing the idea of using a little musical cue for characters, ideas or emotions, referred to today as a leitmotif or "leading motive," into general musical discourse (he didn't invent it outright, but he developed it into what it is considered to be today); this concept, a century later, was what John Williams brought back into general discourse by, at Lucas' direction, reviving the classical orchestral score with broad use of leitmotifs throughout the scores. The scores of John Williams, rightly called "the oxygen of Star Wars," would have been impossible to appreciate as we currently do in a universe where Richard Wagner, himself one of the most powerful and sublime composers of his or any day, had not been present.
Which points to a general desire for innovation that both Wagner and Lucas shared: so intense was their desire that their respective works be seen at their absolute best that they had to practically invented new things and new ways of doing things from scratch. Wagner established his Bayreuth Festspielhaus and an entire organization around it to give his operas properly; he invented a musical instrument, now called the "Wagner tuba," to get the notes he wanted; he asked for visual effects that were well ahead of their time and had mixed success in getting them accomplished with the materials available in his time. All of this sounds familiar when we think of George Lucas.
The point where the two people differ is largely in terms of their personal characters, and the ends to which people were able to take their works based on those character natures. Both were firm people who insisted on getting what they wanted and refused to take "no" for an answer, true, but Lucas was far more modest of character than Wagner, a vain and arrogant braggart with an inferiority complex. It also made a crucial difference that, as a German nationalist, Wagner's politics lay with the radical Right and his operas, based on ancient German myth, were subsequently exploited by the radical Right (his writings, crowded with anti-Semitic and misogynist sentiments, make it clear that the Nazis really weren't perverting his ideas all THAT much). Such statements could never be made of George Lucas: he was and is of the mainstream Left and his work reflects that - despite the fact that the very title is about warfare, the basic stance of the Saga is solidly ANTI-war, making it quite clear that by even joining battle, one has ultimately already lost something very precious.
So I can't promise it will be everyone's cup of tea, but I urge everyone to give Wagner's music a little taste; it may offer you some of the most sublime musical experiences you're likely to have - and that's something I'm more than happy to share with you.
25. Any other favorite franchises, besides Star Wars?
None that come anywhere NEAR as close to my core as Star Wars does. I suppose Star Trek is the obvious second, though that's by no means a CLOSE second. Trek seems to have spent itself already, while the Saga is poised with the near-limitless resources of Disney behind it for a major comeback that will keep it in the public eye to stay.
There was Battlestar Galactica - and by that I mean the ORIGINAL series, not the Ron Moore follow-up - but then they ended it without any kind of satisfactory conclusion; they followed it up with Galactica 1980, which also ended without any kind of satisfactory conclusion (unless you consider Earth at the end of the Carter Administration to be such; I sure didn't); there were then comics and books and all sorts of Galactica spin-offs, none of which had any kind of satisfactory conclusion. By the time they got to the conclusion of the Ron Moore version, I think one of the reasons I like it so much had less to do with its quality and more to do with the fact that by then, I had waited for the franchise to reach a satisfactory conclusion for thirty years - it's rather akin to holding in a breath for a very long time; when you finally get to take that next breath, it feels SO GOOD just to HAVE it.
Then they followed that up with a prequel series - which ended without any kind of satisfactory conclusion. "All this has happened before, and it will happen again?" Yeah, no kidding...
26. Any specific goals you hope to achieve by the end of the year?
The goal I have this year is the goal I shall probably have every year: to learn how to enjoy life more every day. It's not easy, but it becomes easier over time. To give both a proper sendoff to this interview, and to share a part of myself with you and the readers on the forum, it would be prudent to give a little insight into why I chose that goal AND make it relevant to Star Wars in some way; and, of course, because it's written by me, it can't be just one paragraph long (insert your collective "dammit!" here). Nevertheless, I'll try for as much brevity as the subject will allow. You see, I've mentioned that I had been through some hard things and yet managed to get past them. What I will do is describe HOW I finally began to heal, and what Star Wars specifically had to do with that. Not the short-term patches for pain, like watching Empire just to point and laugh at Luke at his lowest moment, as I described earlier, but the long-term cure, the thing that took hold and truly worked.
During the publicity campaign for the return of Darth Maul during TCW (yes, that recently), Sam Witwer frequently made the rounds giving interviews to the press and to fansites, and did so with a wonderful relish and a willingness to be open about his thought processes in making this or that acting decision. It's one of the reasons he quickly became a fan favorite. And when it came to Witwer's description of spider-Maul, he expounded on his own personal theory of the dark side for the first time in my recall, a theory that he would develop further and reiterate. Rather than attempt to give it justice and fail, I'll let Witwer say it in his own words as I heard them on the Forcecast and as they registered on me (emphases are mine):
That resonated with me. My problems had been gone for a year - and yet I realized at that moment that I had not moved past them in my mind, not at all. When people suffer blows, it's entirely natural to want to hide to lick one's wounds; but that can only go on for so long, and I hadn't quit hiding. When people are in crisis, it's entirely natural to feel fear; but it becomes harmful when you're still feeling fear every day a year on. I had myself become consumed by what I was afraid of. I had ceased to pay attention to the people around me. I could see Witwer's words overlapping with my life in ways that were entirely uncomfortable. I have already mentioned my shock at my resemblance to the deeply wounded and introverted E.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks; I was equally shocked, if not more, to hear myself reflected in Sam Witwer's well-considered and insightful words. And I had heard Witwer's words first; Travers simply reminded me of the eternal validity of those words.
I considered those words deeply. The last thing I wanted, I knew, was to become the very thing I hated. Without going into any depth, it's sufficient to say that what had happened to us did so because someone else thought only about himself, and therefore decided to hurt people I care deeply about - and, by extension, myself. That person faced justice for it; but the last thing I wanted to do was become another like him, concerned only with myself to the extent that I don't see that I'm hurting other people, or preventing them from healing themselves. That is indeed insanity, as Witwer put it. And with that insight, I resolved that, come what may, I would be sane. I would no longer cut myself off from the world simply because I had been hurt. EVERYBODY gets hurt; what matters is how we deal with it. Star Wars has spent six films (and will now spend nine) trying to knock this point into our heads. I had forgotten that point in all the excitement; Witwer had reminded me of it.
So I began processing that realization, and whenever Witwer had something further to say about it, I took notes. He was absolutely right: perhaps the most evil word in the entire universe (when misused) is "I." When one puts "I" at the center of one's universe, and closes all else out, terrible things are possible. "I" can deafen you to the cries of others and makes hurting people a potentiality where it otherwise would not. But when one ceases to feel that way, when one allows in the rest of the universe, with all its splendor and terror in equal measure, one is enriched by it, and life - the "harsh sentence" that Hanks-as-Disney (fictitiously) describes - is made significantly less harsh. It can even appear as something worth being sentenced to - as long as you understand that bad things are simply an inevitable part of that experience, much as the dark side, for all its destructive effects, is a part of nature. But that doesn't then mean that I have to be contributing to that darkness when there's a light that I could be contributing to instead.
Isn't that, at least in part, what Star Wars is about? Witwer certainly makes a convincing case for it.
Two years on, the consequences of that realization are enormous. I'm going to step back from saying that Star Wars (via Witwer) outright SAVED my life; I WILL say that it helped me to UNDERSTAND my life a lot better, and improve the way I was leading it. It saved the QUALITY of my life. The person I was before that realization wasn't really functioning and could easily relate to the shrieking arachnid Darth Maul. But that was then; this is now. I feel quite differently today than I did only a few years ago: I'm very happy with my own life, with life in general, and with all the wonderful potentialities still to come in that life. The pain I felt then now barely pricks me at all; joy has gradually come to replace it. That joy enables me to see that the new Star Wars films are but the tip of a much larger iceberg: for all the fantastic things in store for us from that new trilogy, it's just gravy compared to the much more fantastic things in store for us in life - if we're willing to just let them in.
That's roughly what Star Wars has meant to me.
A truly awesome read and a baptism of fire for our newest crew members. All have performed well, and we thank our guest
@Pfluegermeister for helping us test the new cores and only burning through 17 memory nodes during the interview!
The Imperial Spoiler Surveillance Station would like to inform all our subjects that the interview applications are once more OPEN. Sign up, join us - unless you want to read this from the charred remains of all that you once held dear, as our glorious fleets blot out the sun... by blowing it up.
The "Wall of Text" hath spoken. It is truly a pleasure to get to know him better. To understand 'why' he thinks as he does. I enjoyed drinking 5 cups of coffee while I read through this weighty tome. All the best to you
@Pfluegermeister and thank you for your candor.
It's good to see you back on duty Commander
@The Hellhammer. Great job!
That was an incredible read! I'll admit, when I first saw the length of those answers, I was like "Weeeeell...maybe I'd better go wash those dishes.", but then it hit me; "If Pfluegermeister took the time to respond with that much depth, there's going to be something of value there." More than just the perfunctory "Ah lahk Stah Wahs ahlot." kinds of answers (not that anyone here has given those. I'm always impressed by how articulate and enthusiastic the subjects are).
Great job, the both of you. Glad to see this is back up and running .
It think this is a very hard thing to learn, and I agree that Star Wars teaches it well. I feel the same way about my uncle (so does my mom) and while I know it's not the same as with a parent, I know exactly where you are coming from.
I'm glad that things are better (it seems) for you in life... you have a fantastic outlook! We should all strive to be more like that.
If it helps, I had suggested to Hellhammer that the subtitle of this interview should be "We didn't ask you for your frickin' autobiography!"
I should also note (admittedly at the risk of violating the double-posting rule) that that particular relationship has of late been far, FAR more pleasant and warm. Age can and does mellow hardened hearts, and that's as true (if not MORE so) for sons as it is for fathers. I'll actually be flying up to visit my parents in a couple of weeks; I look forward to cooking with Dad, one of the ways we enjoy spending time together. We also love us a good history discussion; I didn't get a pretty good layman's knowledge of history from the void, after all.
It's the things like that prove to me that things really ARE better.
Star Wars never stops teaching. And it never stops helping, it seems.
That was a mind-blowingly awesome interview,
@Pfluegermeister! The longest interview yet, too, easily eclipsing my two-part interview on the first page haha.
Also, I noticed you stole borrowed my TCW Lom Pyke gif. Haha I remember you said you loved that image! Only the finest spice from the mines of Kessel, my friend.
I really enjoyed how much effort and detail you put into your interview, as well as how you applied Star Wars into a number of revelations about your own life, and allowed yourself to get over those hard times and enjoy life again. To see the reality of Yoda's words, "Fear leads to anger...anger leads to hate...hate...leads to suffering", embodied by the maddened Maul, so self-obsessed that he was unwilling to accept death, that was definitely an impressive scene, and I like how you took Sam Witwer's articulations to heart. Ultimately, I feel it's always important to retain some of that innocence of childhood well into your adult life, and as you put it, Star Wars is capable of doing just that.
Imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery...
Thanks for all the feedback, folks. It was really a great read, very insightful
Also, just a heads up to
@EHT to update the title and interviewee list