Tolkein Vs. Galactic History

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Ternian, Feb 3, 2003.

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  1. Ternian Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2000
    star 4
    I orignally posted this in the AotC Forum, but because we have a trendy new Saga Forum, I thought I would repost here. :)

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    Tolkien once wrote, in regards to The Silmarillion:

    "Part of the attraction of the L.R. is, I think, due to the glimpses of a large history in the background: an attraction like that of viewing far off an unvisited island, or seeing the towers of a distant city gleaming in a sunlit mist."

    In the Original Trilogy, the PT era was the background history that was the 'attraction.'

    Does the PT suffer from a lack of glimpses of a "large history" as described by Tolkein?
  2. Master Salty Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 1999
    star 6
    I think it does. In the OT we keep seeing references to an earlier time and half truths about that time period. In the PT, there are no hints to an earlier period that make any difference. There's really nothing in the PT that drives us to want to look farther back in history. The only notable exceptions are Palpy, Maul, Anakin's birth, and maybe some of Obi-Wan's intitial training. The majority of this can be dealt with via EU and not movies.
  3. Darth_Dagsy Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2000
    star 6
    Well, exactly how much of the PT was alluded to in the OT?

    You had Anakin being a Jedi, you had the Clone Wars, Yoda and Obi Wan being Jedi warriors. Luke and Leias mother was sad, Leia was the adopted daughter of Bail Organa. The Imperial Senate. How much else was there?

    Its true that the PT doesnt have that much. There is very mention of the pre-TPM occurances. You get a slight mention of a Prophecy and the extinction of the Sith. A little one corruption in the Republic. But not that much else.

    However, I dont know if I can see any of the background affecting the movies. I mean, when I watched the OT, I didnt think about what happened in the backstory. I was simply busy with what was being presented to me.

    There isnt that much difference here. I'm interested in the backstory, but it doesnt influence my viewing experience.
  4. merlin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 29, 1999
    star 4
    [color=663300]I think there is enough history, it's just not interesting history. I think we are led to believe that the recent history of the Republic (the last few hundred years to one thousand years) is pretty bland. Basically there was managable peace for SOOOO long that this new threat (the phantom menace) was easily overlooked by the Jedi. Everybody got used to there being peace that they did not see the war bearing down on them. [/color]
  5. Darth_AYBABTU Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 8, 2001
    star 6

    Even though, as Dagsy pointed out, there were relatively few mentions of PT-era history in the OT, we were still made aware that there was a history, and a very important one that continued to have impact across the galaxy, at that. Lucas has not established that historical background in the PT. And to make matters worse, we already know how the PT ends.

    And that's a shame. We learned of the events and motivations that drove the action in the OT, but we know little about what came before the PT. Why were the Sith seeking revenge on the Jedi? Lucas can't rely on EU to tell that story. The movies need to be self-sustaining. They need to come full circle. I think he missed an opportunity to enrich the PT with historical background, and maybe that's why many people don't seem to like it as much. It doesn't have the same sort of mythological feel that the OT has.

    AYBABTU?

  6. dArTh_wenley Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2001
    star 5

    I'd have to agree here.

    The OT seems to have a lot of things that happened in the lead up to the movies, and references are continually made to past times.

    Then you have the PT. Everything is happening in the prescense. Sure you are aware of a wider galaxy, and the action takes you anywhere, but the movies don't give the viewer much of a clue as to what has already happened.

    With the PT, the OT looses much of its "galatic history" which is a pitty.
  7. YodaJeff Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 18, 2001
    star 7
    Much of the history described in the OT was necessary for the story. When Lucas first released ANH, I don't think he was planning on making the prequels. Therefore, he had to include some of the back history, which we will now see in the prequels. The backstory in the prequel era isn't very exciting. It doesn't involve a rebellion, an evil empire, or anything of that magnitude. It seems like it was years and years of peace and understanding.

    Perhaps it would be nice to have more of a backstory on the Sith, on why they are so bent on killing the Jedi. However, the more that the backstory is explained, the less mystery there is surrounding certain characters and groups. Personally, I think the Sith should be mysterious.
  8. QueenPadme Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 15, 2003
    star 1
    I agree--there was some necessary history alluded to in the OT (Anakin's transformation and the relationship between him and Obi-Wan, primarily), but the PT doesn't add much to our knowledge of "the Star Wars universe."

    On the other hand, LoTR and the Simarillion provide 1000s of years of detailed history on many different races in Middle Earth. SW history definitely pales in comparision.

    One thing I would really love to see someone explore (and I'm not familiar with the EU, so maybe it has been explored there) is the ancient history of the Jedi and Sith. Not just how they came to oppose each other, but how the existence of the force was discovered in teh first place, how the Jedi order came into being originally, whether the Sith arose separately or as an offshoot of the Jedi, etc.

  9. Katriel Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2000
    star 4
    The OT had all of these characters that had supposedly fought in the Clone Wars or had known Bail Organa. People such as Mon Mothma & General Rieekan. I hope GL writes these characters into Ep III. Part of the excitement of learning GL was going to continue the movies with Eps I, II, and III was the hope we'd get to see the origins of these characters.
  10. neeldawg66 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 21, 2002
    star 8
    I would also agree that it does also, especially when it comes to the somewhat recent history of the PT. There are few things that make me want to know more about the history: how did the Jedi Order come about, what is the past of the Sith Vs. Jedi, and how did Palpatine get his powers (may be explained in Ep. III.) After viewing the the first two parts of the PT, it seems that Republic functioned in relative peace and prosperity for many years leading up to the TPM. I remember watching the OT and always thinking about the Clones Wars, Anakin's turn, the Jedi purge, Luke and Leia's mother, but with the PT I just don't get that sense of wonder about the recent hostory.
  11. TheChosen1 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2001
    star 4
    Personally, I think the back story in the prequels is really fascinating. We know that thousands of years ago, a Jedi became disenchanted with the Jedi order. He fell to the darkside and took many other like-minded Jedi with him. This parallels the mythology of Lucifer falling from heaven and taking other angels with him who became demons. There was a great Sith War (remember, this stuff isn't all EU, its from a backstory that Lucas gave for the TPM novel.)

    Eventually, the Sith were so power hungry, that they double crossed each other to near extinction. Darth Bane created the rule of two and you all know the rest of the story.

    I think this backstory is really interesting because it takes place thousands of years in the past. What was the galaxy like then? Where did the Jedi order originate from? Who was the first Jedi to found the Sith? What is Darth Bane like and who was his apprentice? Can you imagine a movie based on this? The origin of the Sith and the Sith war could be a trilogy itself.

    Unfortunately, almost none of this backstory is explained in the movies expect "the Sith have been extinct for a millenia," and "Always two there are."
  12. OBI-GYN_Kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 3
    Apples & Oranges........

    Tolkien had unlimited pages to write on; His main stumbling block in finishing the whole history was:

    A. Life kept getting in the way of full time writing.

    B. Because he took so long, he never made much money off his writings until he was around 65 years old.

    C. Because he didn't go to full time writing until he retired & had this style of rewriting everything backwards & over & over, he never completely finished the Simarillion before he died.

    Now, GL, his limitations on showing us is a time limit of about 2:15 to 2:30 per movie.

    But let's get real here (Duck, Obi-Gyn ;) ):

    Tolkien's Middle Earth is so much deeper & complete & complex than that Galaxy far, far away.

    And, I guess we're seeing right now what would've happened if JRR Tolkien was limited to what George Lucas is as Peter Jackson butchers The Lord Of The Rings.....

    Make Faramir into a Boromir Clone. :(
    Hey, maybe PJ shoulda called TLOR Part II 'The Attack Of The Boromir Clone'. :D
  13. Aiwendil Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2002
    star 1
    I think that there are two parts to this question. They might be framed thus: first, does actually seeing the prequel trilogy somehow ruin the magic, as it were, of the glimpses of history seen in the original trilogy. Second, does the prequel trilogy itself somehow, to its detriment, lack such glimpses into an even earlier past?

    My answer to both questions would have to be 'no'.

    As for the first: it is true that Tolkien thought that part of the attraction of LotR was in the glimpses of a deeper history. It is also true that this was an argument used against the publication of the Silmarillion. However, Christopher Tolkien makes a very insightful comment with regard to this (I can't recall where - possibly in Unfinished Tales or The Book of Lost Tales. He says that the deeper history glimpsed in LotR is not merely a facade - it actually exists. The Silmarillion is that deeper history. And, as countless fans will testify, reading the Silmarillion does not in any way detract from The Lord of the Rings - on the contrary, it enriches it.

    I think the same is true of Star Wars. The glimpses of history we have in IV, V, and VI are not merely random references invented to give the impression of depth. They are part of a rich and powerful story. George Lucas has emphasized over and over that I, II, III, IV, V, and VI are all parts of a single story. The prequels are not merely "prequels"; they are an integral part of the saga.

    As for the second question: I think this is closer to being a valid complaint. However, I don't think it's really a problem that the prequels lack historical depth. Another comparison to Tolkien might be in order. The Silmarillion, as I've said, is the 'deeper history' glimpsed in LotR. Now the Silmarillion itself has no deeper history, quite literally - it starts at the beginning of the universe. But it certainly does not suffer as a result of this. This is in part due to the tremendous strength of the myths themselves. There is also, I think, something of an opposite effect at work in the Silmarillion, to its advantage. That is, I think that whereas the LotR may benefit from glimpses at a deeper history, the Silmarillion may benefit from knowledge of a future history. The deeds of its characters take on increased significance because we know of them as heroes of legend from LotR.

    It is just so with the prequels. In IV, V, and VI, we are tantalized by glimpses of the backstory. In I, II, and III (well, I assume in III), our appreciation is increased by knowledge of, and foreshadowing of, later events.

    This, I think, is one of the greatest strengths of epic, generation-spanning stories such as Star Wars and Tolkien's mythology (at least, of well done ones): the early installments benefit from knowledge of the later ones, and the later ones benefit from knowledge of the earlier.
  14. Darth Jamus Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2000
    star 4
    So I guess George Lucas was supposed to sit down and devote his whole life to Star Wars just so fans could compare it to Tolkien's work. Lucas has never had any intentions of creating anything as detailed as Tolkien did. He grew up on seriels of Flash Gordon and such and wanted to tell his own stories on film with the best effects possible. He had the vision to pull it off! He doesn't want to waste his entire life in Star Wars because there are things more important to him than space movies. Heck, that is why we aren't getting his Episodes 7-9 that used to be spoken of so often years ago! What Tolkien did was his choice and literature gained from his efforts. I am not belittling him for his efforts, but I don't think George Lucas should be criticized for not devoting his life to his creation either. These are movies for God's sakes, that's all, nothing more! Entertaining, yes, but still just movies! George realizes this and so should everyone else! Comparing them to Tolkien is just plain silly for obvious reasons, and I am not talking quality, but rather the choice of spending a few years versus fifty years of your life on something make believe!
  15. huttese1138 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2002
    star 3
    Totally agree with the previous statement.
  16. OBI-GYN_Kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 3
    I'm happy with both entities as classic stories in their own right.

    Bottom line.

    Darth Jamus, did you read my post? Tolkien did not devote his 'entire life' to Middle Earth & that's one reason that it took forever to get his works finished.


    >>>>The Silmarillion is that deeper history

    Actually, aside from 'Akallabeth' & 'Of The Third Age & The Rings Of Power', there's a 6400 year gap between The Silmarillion & TLOR. The only finished published works on this period is the Appendices of TLOR.
  17. Oscar_the_Gungan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2001
    star 3
    I'm sorry if this sounds like a rant, but I can't figure out why it always has to be Tolkien's stuff that SW is getting compared. It seems to me there are other works which has had more influence on SW than LOTR and would serve as a more fair comparison. Asimov's Foundation series and Herbert's Dune books probably had as much of an influence. They both deal with a galactic sized civilization. I guess it bugs me that people seem to be stuck on LOTR when to really have a fair discussion about such issues such as hints of a larger history when they fail to look at other works.
  18. Darth Jamus Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2000
    star 4
    Tolkien DID spend a significant amount of his life on his Middle Earth, far more than George Lucas on his universe. I am not bashing Tolkien, but simply pointing out the foolishness of comparing the two works! One work has had a significantly larger amount of work done on it than the other, simple as that!
  19. Aiwendil Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2002
    star 1
    Actually, aside from 'Akallabeth' & 'Of The Third Age & The Rings Of Power', there's a 6400 year gap between The Silmarillion & TLOR. The only finished published works on this period is the Appendices of TLOR.

    Well, I think that the Akallabeth and 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age' cover the intervening time fairly well. But you're right - the 'Silmarillion' proper only extends to the end of the First Age. When I say 'Silmarillion' I tend to use it in a broader sense, encompassing all of the published work as well as Unfinished Tales and the History of Middle-earth.
  20. Ternian Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2000
    star 4
    I'm sorry if this sounds like a rant, but I can't figure out why it always has to be Tolkien's stuff that SW is getting compared.

    Did you even read the original post before replying? There is NO comparison between the two made by me.

    This thread is not about which is better. It is asking if the PT lacks the history of the OT.
  21. Emperor_Billy_Bob Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2000
    star 7
    I actually don't mind the lack of history behind the PT. I get the sense that the SW Universe since the Sith War has been pretty boring.

    The time in the PT has to be well rationed anyway, there is no time to exposition about stuff that happened long ago and has little effect on the storyline.
  22. Lars_Muul Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 2, 2000
    star 6
    When you watch the saga as a whole, you won´t have to worry about this, because when you get to ANH, the history they talk about is something you just experienced.
    So the historical depth to the saga will lie in the hints we get in TPM, mostly.
    BTW; I think it is made pretty clear why the Sith want revenge:

    - The Sith have been extinct for a millennium!

    - At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge!


    So the Jedi think that the Sith are extinct and the Sith want to reveal that they are not and exact revenge upon the Jedi. Could it be that the Sith were supposedly exterminated by the Jedi? [face_shocked]
  23. Ternian Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2000
    star 4
    I don't really want to know too much either about the Sith and the Republic.

    However, I would have liked to hear something about the Jedi's diminishing role in the universe and the Trade Federation's previous acts of 'terror'.
  24. Oscar_the_Gungan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2001
    star 3
    Maybe I misunderstood what this thread was about, but the title had vs. in it if it wasn't meant to be a comparison it may have needed to be called something different.
    On the subject of hints of galactic history there are all sorts of visual clues in the prequels to historical events and even cultures we may never learn much about.
    There are many clues all over Naboo, like the giant stone heads and the ruins in the Gungan sacred place. None of that stuff looks like it was built by Gungans.
  25. Ternian Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2000
    star 4
    Maybe I misunderstood what this thread was about, but the title had vs. in it if it wasn't meant to be a comparison it may have needed to be called something different.

    When did Vs. mean 'comparison?' If I want I wanted a comparison, I would have asked for one. This is putting Tolkien's theory up against what has been seen in the Saga. I think my inital post is extremely clear on this.

    As for the Naboo 'heads,' that may aide the viewer in a visual history, but does not give the story a history.
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