Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Merlin_Ambrosius69, Jul 26, 2011.
You beat me to it.
Even when I was never looking for problems a few years ago, the differences were too blatant for me to ever think it had a consistent look and feel.
From another point-of-view, the, er, "certain point-of-view" dialogue, is a lot more profound than it is generally treated. "Okay, so Obi-Wan is kinda explaining why the prequels are so different..." Yes. And no.
The problem, here, is, indeed, one of basic perception. People only perceive the prequels -- at best -- as a story that subverts the OT. But what if it's more than that? What if the PT *is* the OT, and vice versa?
I sense you're still not cottoning on, yet. Imagine the same building blocks. Lego bricks, let's say. Give them to two kids. Each with their own set. And see what they build, in isolation, unaware of what the other is doing. You will probably find two different structures at the end of it. It's a poor analogy in some respects: What if the kids mess it up and don't really build anything? And two kids building things simultaneously does not reflect the way the saga was made: one main creator, who constructed one thing first, then made another in light of the first. But the basic principle is there: IT'S THE SAME BLOCKS. IN A DIFFERENT ORDER. "Execute Order 66!"
Consider the ends of ROTJ AND ROTS. Partially-constructed Death Star. Darth Vader and the Emperor. Ships flying low in atmospheres. The Skywalker clan. People huddled around a fire/suns. Which is which? Or this: Guy in black waistcoat. Cynical about the Force. An individual of dubious valour, but turns out to be a hero. Who am I talking about? Han Solo or Jar Jar Binks? In order to perceive any difference at all, you need to consider confounding variables. In the former example, the end of the PT shows the Empire in ascendance, apparently unstoppable; the end of the OT shows the Empire in decline, apparently defeated. In the latter, Han Solo is calm, cocky and sure of himself; Jar Jar is anxious, fearful and overly-eager. Rather than "history repeating itself", or some other psychological homily, the specific nature of the two trilogies is, to return to my Lego example, same blocks, different structure. In other words, the PT is not a "backstory" to the OT -- it *is* the OT, told in a different way.
The OT is a story without a beginning and the PT is a story without an end. They *appear* to complete each other, closing a circle. But their manner of construction is such that they are, essentially, propaganda pieces. The opening crawl motif explicitly brings this to mind: war movies with war rhetoric. It's like Lucas is saying, "The OT is not the history of this galaxy. The PT is! No, wait. The PT is not the history of this galaxy..." In other words, Lucas is exploring or satirizing the degree to which details get changed around -- by mistake, by consequence, by design -- such that you can essentially end up with two entirely different stories with entirely different (but broadly identical) outcomes. That's what happens with propaganda: truth and lies, through human fallibility and willful contrivance, mix ineluctably together, developing endless variations on classic themes. In this sense, Star Wars is exploring/extruding history: human weakness through a cinematic lens.
The two trilogies can be seen as unique totems, made of the same basic material and patterns, partially-explicable when they're compared against each other, but unique in their essential forms. "You thought a young Skywalker saved his dad from the Dark Side? You thought wrong! That's the story the Big Green Monster Party told you! But we're the Small Purple Monster Party! And we're telling you a young Skywalker JOINED his (spiritual) father when he TURNED to the Dark Side!" Sex, lies and videotape. "I must know the truth, Master..." As he goes into a VIDEO recording. "You thought some guys battled a Sith Lord with a tall gait and deep voice in a cave-like spaceship hangar? Bah! That's the story the Small Purple Monster Party told you! But we're the Big Green Monster Party! And we're telling you this was a METAPHYSICAL fight where one person peered into their own soul!" It's all scrambled. "Scramble Code 5 to Coruscant..." Obi-Wan... In the words of Padme, "He knows".
I think the other great thing about the 6 SW movies is that there really is alot more in it then meets the eye. For example: Harry Potter is essentially about Harry Potter's story, even if one were to look at the 6 movies as the Tragedy of Darth Vader, there are other stories/characters that are going on that could be their own movies in one way or another.
For the PT: You could essentially follow it as Palpatine's rise to power the same way Hitler rose in the 1930's. There is a very cool story of how one person can get LEGALLY elected, and become a dictator when it is all said and done.
You can also follow the PT as Obiwan's story, as Ewan McGregor did a great job trying to recreate a younger Sir Alec Guiness. If you look Obiwan after the 6 movies, in many ways HE's redeemed because alot of the blame for the rise of Anakin and the Empire could be put on his shoulders.
For the OT, you can follow Han Solo as his character comes full circle in Episode VI from a selfish arrogant smuggler, to a guy who is key to the rebels victory. Just think of that guy at the Cantina Bar and then the guy kissing Leia at the end of ROTJ, totally different person!
I think this is why SW has such a diverse and large fanbase compared to other movie series. As I said, if you don't like the character of Harry Potter, the movies are probably not for you. If you are not a fan of the Batman character, then it would be hard to identify with those movies. But with SW, you can gravitate to one part of the stories in the 6 movies, and EVERYTHING will feel like a sub-plot, so many of us can be watching Episode I-VI and come away with a totally different context as to what we just watched.
I'm not sure about that. A lot of people who never cared for Batman before loved The Dark Knight.
You ain't kidding. From eavesdropping I know that some people in line for TDK knew literally nothing about the character. It's like, why are you here?
Because they heard that Heath Ledger was good in it and they wanted to see him in his final role.
Cos that's how u learn.
And yet TDK, for all of its problems, is a magnificent achievement. It's a real movie.
Quoted for complete truth.
And that's more than you can say about The Phantom Menace, which feels less like a movie than an ILM special effects reel run amok.
Its better than Return of the Jedi
Although it wasn't so much of a phenomenon as The Dark Knight, INCEPTION was even better IMO. True cinema.
Maybe I'll agree with you on that, if only because The Phantom Menace wasn't an ending where the Galactic Empire was defeated by Ewoks.
It's one story told in two parts. Each of the two parts has three chapters.
If the Star Wars Saga were "The Bible", then the trilogies would be the Old Testament and New Testament, except that the New Testament in this case ocurred chronologically before the Old Testament.
What about Boba Fetts lack of screen time and death?? He had no dialog at all with Jabba. Endor would have been better off if it didnt have high security...remove the troopers altogether. during the little battle have it be the rebellion fighting the imperial agents...but the ewoks?? smh.
It's a very good film. However, I think Nolan's literal-mindedness undermines some his ambitions; he's not a great visual director, and the film lacks the sort of truly disturbing power that an accomplished surrealist like David Lynch or Spike Jonze might have brought to the visual tableaux. Also, Nolan's skill in crafting elaborate works of narrative oragami comes at a cost, at least where human dimension is concerned. Leonardo DiCaprio's Cobb notwithstanding, Inception is populated by a group of interchangeable ciphers who are burdened with portentous expository dialogue that does nothing to inspire our emotional commitment. Still, the film was exhilarating on the level of craft, and the second hour was an entirely compelling piece of showmanship that helped to compensate for some its other deficiencies.
I think another way to look at the Saga is to centralize it around the OT. Going off the 'period theme' thread, the Original Trilogy seems to be primarily within the 'present'. In other words the monomyth of Luke Skywalker is the 'present', neither being historically focused nor necessarily futuristic in a certain sense. In this way the Prequel Trilogy are period films (like historical epics), and a hypothetical Sequel Trilogy would likely be a 'futuristic' type epic in relation to the original films (a 'Star Trek' to 'Star Wars' if you will).
If the ST were made this platform would work rather well in my opinion. All Lucas would need do is choose another 'take' on the Saga:
I-II-III-IV-V-VI: Journey of Anakin Skywalker
IV-V-VI-VII-VIII-IX: Journey of Luke Skywalker
I-II-III-IV-V-VI-VII-VIII-IX: The Skywalker Epic
What if bringing balance to the Force is the first step to bringing peace? Luke could be the further part of that epic story of restoring balance to the force, by fixing the damaged caused by the Sith. But I digress...
All that, PLUS... Nolan seems to sell Manichean worldviews, packaged with an annoying blend of po-faced seriousness and trite sentimentality. Hardly anyone comments on this, so maybe, hardly anyone shares my view, but I see it in all his movies. I mean, even before he got into this blockbuster lark, or, rather, when he was TRYING to get into it, he re-made a powerful, sinister and genuinely bleak European movie into a relatively staid and mawkish studio film looking for mainstream approval. There was much that was dark and terrifying about the original "Insomnia", but the screenplay he ended up directing (not one of his own making, but one he, nonetheless, ultimately approved, and had some input on) turned it into this broody, emotive piece, with a simplistic, nullifying conclusion. Nolan basically did the same with Batman, I'd argue, changing Bruce Wayne from this fierce, psychotic, lone-wolf persona, who spent many years subsequent to his parents' death training himself for a self-fashioned war on crime and criminality, to a self-pitying, wayward twenty-something obsessed with simple-minded vengeance, then lost in fear and loathing. In addition, he lead-weighted the balloon by having Bruce actually attacked by bats to effect certain outcomes and symbolism; but the original comic book was actually more realistic, and far less lugubrious, in having Bruce choose the symbol of a bat based on his own ironic rationalization that criminals are a "superstitious" lot, using it give shape to his own dementia. This latter aspect is there in the films, but somewhat heavy-handed in execution, and still secondary to the more subtle shift towards Bruce using it as a kind of self-proof he had conquered the better part of his own fear: an emotional solipsism fitting of Nolan's film-making (just see "Inception"), but somewhat short of Batman's strict, driven nature. And blond-haired boys, as simple emotional connection points, have had this habit of weaving their way into Nolan's last three movies, as if their cherubic innocence is enough to justify main protagonists shooting and lying their way to salvation. All that's without saying anything about Michael Caine's humble patriarch or Hans Zimmer's piano music. Of course, that's just my take on matters, but I tend to find myself distanced from his films for these reasons, and several others, despite the nice cinematography and good casting. In my view, Nolan pretends complexity, but actually pumps juvenile, even fascist, ideologies, into the multiplex.
The age-old question: Which of the Saga's two (arguably) weakest installments is better: TPM or ROTJ? My opinion is they're about on-par with each other in terms of cinematic excellence, and are tonally and thematically aligned with one another better than any other two episodes.
Both films are rather overtly kid-friendly, with loads of Muppetesque creatures and animatronic masks, some in latex and some in pixels. They're both the most visually colorful episodes of their respective Sagas, and boast the most varied palette over the other films, and an overall brightness of image seen also in 'ANH'.
In terms of artistic merit and filmmaking craft, I personally think TPM edges out ROTJ; there's a sloppiness to Ep. VI that is the result of a rushed schedule and a pressure to top the previous movie, ESB, which had not been as well-received critically or commercially as the first film. Beginning in about 1996, Lucas and co. had more time (and money!) to prepare for and plan TPM; they had more and different effects resources at their command; and the result, TPM, is a very slick, polished product that outshines ROTJ on a scene-to-scene basis.
IMHO, comparing shot composition, production design, action sequences, depth of character, uniqueness of core material, crispness of dialogue and melodic score, TPM wins by a lasersword tip. ROTJ has a lot going for it thematically -- the final 30 minutes is beautiful, heartbreaking stuff, the very core of the Saga -- but I don't think it's quiiiiiite as well-made as TPM.
Just one man's thoughts on the matter!
"Age-old question?" Poppycock! I'll settle this in my typically simplistic fashion.
Question: Which bookend showcases Liam friggin' Neeson as a Jedi Knight and Duel of the Fates as its chief composition?
I rest my case.
Tune in next week, when drg4 determines which narcotic is more dangerous, marijuana or crystal meth.
Hah! Sez you. I agree TPM is the winning horse, but let's not get hysterical. The film has its faults and its inconsistencies. I'll see your Liam Neeson and raise you an Ian McDiarmid, if it comes to that.
I think, in terms of sheer imagination -- art direction, cinematography, sound design, etc. -- TPM wins by a country mile. I'd also say, on the whole, it's the much more poignant and thoughtful of the two pictures. The sense of irony and majesty in TPM is, for this viewer, overwhelming. It has such intimacy and sweep. But ROTJ claws a lot back for itself in its long-reaching comedy, and its more serious resolution of the Vader-Luke-Palpatine conflict, in my opinion. FWIW, ROTJ also has my favourite musical passage in the saga: the closing sequence, featuring both the new "victory celebration" and the vintage "Ewok" march, married to the epic strains of the Star Wars theme, is, without doubt, my all-time favourite musical intermingling of the whole odyssey.
Doggerel! McDiarmid's in both of them, and delivered the subtler performance in TPM!
And believe me, if I were being hysterical, you'd be in hysterics.
TPM > ROTJ 7 times out of 10.