Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by HevyDevy, Sep 13, 2012.
THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE
I'm surprised no one has mentioned this one yet.
Luke, at the dawn of his journey, gazing into the sunset and staring right towards his destiny
Then we have the mirror image: Luke gazing left, looking back on his completed journey. The colors are darker and less optimistic as his story became more complex as he matured
The mirror images bookend his "hero's journey" nicely.
On a similar note, Anakin begins his journey saying goodbye to his mother:
And ends it saying goodbye to his son:
Ah, see this is exactly the type of thing I like to stumble across. Great find. It's a nice subtle little indication of influence, and at the very least a demonstration of how the films are on the same wavelength. I really wish we could get directors like Kelly to answer whether or not the Prequels played any part in their creative process (in his case it's nebulous, but there may be a case for it in his follow-up movie, Southland Tales, which was released in theaters as "Parts IV, V and VI", with "I, II and III" released as a graphic novel literally calling itself "The Prequel Saga".
That's Donnie Darko, right? Only seen it once (a few months ago, actually) and really liked it; strange film playing on a lot of very interesting themes and conventions. I should give it another watch...
God's In His Heaven, All's Right With the World
TPM-- "Are you an angel?"
Sunshine-- "Are you an angel?"
Worth noting-- director Danny Boyle pointed out this shared line on the commentary track to Sunshine personally.
Gather 'Round the Map Reader
Note the look on his face. Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.
This One's a Decoy!
Actually that might be Portman and not Knightley in the above image, but you get the idea.
Catch Me If You Can
I could also add Javier Bardem in Skyfall, but that movie's pretty much wall-to-wall The Dark Knight homage, so it's more of a reference by proxy. Nevertheless, it is very much the same kind of capture-on-purpose scenario.
Oh, also-- Batman Begins' treatment of Ra's Al Ghul is another departure. In the comics, Ra's is literally immortal, living for centuries through use of the Lazarus Pits. In the films, he preserves his anonymity through a revolving door of underlings who assume his identity. See also Palpatine and his henchmen.
First Steps to Freedom
TPM-- Qui Gon frees Anakin from the bondage of slavery. Apparently the staircase laden backdrop is a real location in Tunisia, or am I mistaken?
TDKR-- The prison halfway around the world where Talia was born, and freed from by Bane (in the comics, Bane himself was born in a prison like this). TDKR uses a lot of location shooting, but this place was a constructed set in England (again, unless I'm mistaken).
That last one is interesting. I'm no fan of Nolan or his Batman trilogy, and it's improbable to me that he'd use the prequels as a point of conscious reference - still, you've got something there. The Liam Neeson connection might be the strongest: how to commune with him I will teach you leads directly into Neeson's cruel mountain tutelage later in the summer of 2005, the end of one trilogy begins another, and both bearded characters offer spacial guidance - 'keep your concentration here and now where it belongs' vs 'mind your surroundings' (also, 'greed can be a powerful ally' vs 'theatricality and deception can be powerful agents'). He even appears as a ghostly apparition or hallucination in the third installment - that's a little too precise to ignore.
Batman's vertical escape from his desert prison also weirdly references THX's climactic climb from San Francisco's upright BART tunnels, not to mention all the other circular infinity-spaces in Star Wars. It's hard not to think about Utapau, the Theed reactor or Cloud City in that particular sequence.
Yeah, I wonder how conscious it is as well. Though Star Wars as a whole is certainly a big deal in Nolan's range of influence-- there's any number of OT moments that could be brought up here (the wire-trip of the walker/Joker-truck being one, or Bane's decidedly Vader-esque mask, versus the more lucha libre-esque one in the comics). And Nolan has gone out of his way to talk about that influence (I was at a screening of Following in New York where he seemed more willing to mention Star Wars affecting him as a child than anything to do with Batman), though there it's more the original set of films.
Neeson's casting, though, I think does speak really clearly as one of the stronger indications of influence, and demonstrates that some of it has to be conscious. Remember, Lucas wanted to cast Toshiro Mifune as Obi-Wan in ANH, which would've illustrated the Kurosawa influence clearly, and eventually cast Alec Guiness, which illustrates the influence that David Lean's movies had on him (Lawrence of Arabia especially). In just the same way, I think you have to consider the possibility that Neeson's casting is doing the same sort of thing here, especially because he's playing much the same kind of mentor figure to Wayne. Like you suggest, pretty much everything he says early in the film could be taken as Jedi teachings-- illustrating how his figure can bear an influence even on the script itself.
Which reminds me of one of the other really key things to consider in the Prequel influence on the Nolan Bat-films-- so many of these echo points converge on some detail of the comics that Nolan and his team are diverting from. Whether it's Dent being scarred by fire instead of acid and turned to the dark side by the Joker or by his own psychosis, or Ra's using decoys to preserve the illusion of his power rather than dipping in the Lazarus Pit, there's lots of key elements from the comics that are being dropped in favor of something more along the lines of the type of adventure and spectacle that Lucas made.
Also, let's not forget possibly the most obvious example of how the Prequels influenced Nolan's films-- Batman Begins is, after all, a prequel itself. Also, I took a look at the movie again not long ago when it played on cable, and something really odd struck me. Imagine showing that movie to somebody who's never heard of Batman before, just pop it into a DVD player and cue it up just as the movie starts, without even letting them know the title. What is that movie even about, for its first hour or so? A basket-case rich kid gone missing who dreams about childhood trauma and goes to study ninjitsu from a secret-society in a monastary bent on world domination? How long does it take before it really becomes a Batman movie? That speech that Wayne gives to Alfred in the private jet they take back to Gotham (there's a lot of private jets in Nolan's movies, aren't there?) where he talks about becoming a symbol-- would that make any sense whatsoever to anyone who doesn't arleady know that they're watching a movie about who Batman is and how he came to be?
Contrast this with the Star Wars prequels, and all the nitpicking they got over their plots, how they depend on hindsight to make sense, and the all-of five minute waits it takes for explosions to start in the first two. And then, for good measure, look again at what Nolan's learned in the openings of The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, with their big showy spectacle set-pieces setting the tone for everything that follows. By now, he's really directing his Batman movies like Star Wars or Indiana Jones.
There's a lot of infinity spaces in Nolan's movies, circular and otherwise. There's a lot of Lucas in that, but also some Mann here and there (cutting from the endless lights in Morgan Freeman's gadget lair, the temporary bat-cave and the marquee lights of the Russian ballet Wayne absconds definitely reminded me of the lights surrounding the rings in Ali). As for circular infinities, that reminds me of a few other moments I might look into again, particularly in Inception.
Oh, and I'm really curious to find out what went into that scene where Leonardo DiCaprio does the Yoda/Takashi Shimura headswipe.
Botched Edit, but put these thoughts here-- I'd even say that effectively casting Qui-Gon Jinn as Wayne's mentor might've even been a conscious strategy to help ease viewers into the story with some familiar archetypes. You don't need to be told it's a Batman movie straight away, because you can at least glean it's a hero's journey.
It's odd that you mention Neeson being cast as a recognisable mentor figure in Batman Begins - it never occurred to me that it was SW that established that, but if you look at his previous body of work, I only remember him for the crooks, deeply flawed heroes or the hot-headed Gawain in Excalibur. Post-TPM, though, no-one blinked when he was cast as the voice of Aslan.
Great thread, all of you, please keep up the excellent work.
This is such a ridiculously good thread. I started working on something to add to it a couple of weeks ago, but then kinda got sidetracked. And now there's even more goodness to comment on! AGH!! I'm hoping to finally get to it shortly. Nice work, people. Very nice work.
Projections and Reflections (Business As Usual)
Worth noting-- I looked at screencaps from a slightly later scene in the same location, where Marion Cotillard's character shows up, the memory of Leonardo DiCaprio's dead wife. Her name? Mal, synophonic of a certain Sith Lord...
He Who Flung You
God of the Hunt
Finish Him! (The Pit)
Dueling is Half the Battle
Ghosts in the Machines
what movie? and the next one is Dollhouse, right?
If You Still Feel Raw About It
Two Guns (The D is Silent)
Nice call on "Black Swan". I'd noticed a distinct resemblance between Portman's make-up there and Queen Amidala, but I hadn't thought to do a post of it until you did.
When You See Me Again, It Won't Be Me (Doppelgangers)
We're Gonna Have to Watch That Again
Note the octagonal shape of the room and the shadows on the ground, as well as the swan-like stalk of the hologram projector. There's also a hint of the Imperial vertical window design in the Dharma logo, as well.