Discussion in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Spoilers Allowed' started by fishtailsam, Oct 31, 2012.
Haha. Good point.
I was talking about main characters, not cameo characters or unimportant side characters. Yes, developing them too much would screw up the pacing. That's why in this case it is okay in my book to stick with "cliché character with a quirk".
If a villain features in one movie/book it is also occasionally okay to have him remain fairly flat, especially when working with a protagonist ensemble. There the interesting dynamics can come from the interactions of the protagonists and not so much from the hero-villain conflict.
But Palpatine was an important character in 5 movies. There is no excuse to have him remain as flat as he was.
How is the trope fresh when Flash Gordon (very well known) already did it?
I also think the "texture of evil" is a pretty empty and vague term. Yes humanity is fascinated by evil. Everyone of us has an evil "passenger" (to stress dexter) that just wants to cut loose and forget all about annoying morality. So there's a certain escapism involved with evil characters. Humanity is also curious. We want to understand that which we don't.
But Palpatine doesn't give any answers.
I experienced real hatred in my life and it is nothing like what Palpatine shows. Palpatine is "combine every bad trait I can think of and throw it together". I wouldn't be surprised if he raped women for fun in his free time. But since SW is PG we don't get to see anything like that (fortunately).
So, there you have it. Palpatine = escapist character. He is no more interesting than any of the protagonists in a fast and furious movie or Arnold Schwarzenegger in most of his action flicks. He works (in that some of the audience enjoy watching his antics), but he is still written in the most simplistic way possible.
Sidious/Palpatine isn't an "ambiguous" character, but he clearly has his own set of moral values. I'm not sure why having a simple to follow raison detra or modus operandi equates to "flat" or "one-dimensional"??? I think the mistake here is to assume Star Wars is a study of 'evil' or anything else for that matter. It's quite a simple story, with several themes of narrative that get explored along the way. If it weren't we might be here discussing why Darth Vader is a shallow and ineffective villain (which I don't think anyone here would try and argue).
What makes Palpatine interesting (IMHO) is not the 'why'? but the 'how'? How is this lowly politician, and singular Sith master, going to usurp the entire Jedi order, turn Anakin Skywalker to the darkside and bring down a democratic Republic? Palpatine's story is very much the focus of 'macro' events (the fall of democracy) whilst Anakin's exists at the 'micro' (the fall of the 'self')... and I think to criticise it on the notion that Palpatine needs more of an 'emotional arc' or more discernible 'motivation' to give him more "depth" as a character is to miss the entire point of what the storyteller is trying to relate to the audience and the themes being explored throughout the saga.
I think the issue with your argument is that it's based on your interpretation of the material alone. As they were my examples, I'd be interested in which elements of the plays make Iago and Richard III "more human"? Perhaps if Palpatine would have asked for "some ketchup" or scratched his ass that would cessate your requirement? As for your last comment... I actually think it's just as likely that it was 'over the head' or too subtle for those that didn't get it.
Mm. Nah, sorry but I still don't buy it. Even on a "macro" level his arc was still shallow and uninvolving. His rise to power was Machiavelli 101. And I could project all kinds of stuff onto Vader, like my fears and stuff, and I still can, whereas everyone I look at the PT Palps/Sid I can only keep thinking of Gary Oldman's Dracula. Been there, done that (and done better). Speaking of which, I'd never before seen a villain who looked and acted quite like Vader when he emerged into the smokey corridor of Leia's blockade runner. Still really haven't. A classic villain, Vader is the quintessential Sith Lord badass, not Mr. Unlimited Power, aka, He Who Shoots Lightning From His Gnarled (As in Evil) Fingers. Seen one evil scorcerer, you've pretty much seen them all, as it turns out. My take.
Ha. No, he actually kind of flew under my radar, to be completely honest with you. I've largely ignored the character in favor of more interesting elements with the SWU. Wasn't until I allowed myself to get pulled into this discussion that I began to give 'ole Paps more attention that he's really worth. Speaking of which, where was I...? Oh, yeah, orange light sabers!
Which is kind of my point... i.e. that you're trying to base your criticism on an intellectual level when it's clearly an emotional one. For example... Firstly - Comparing Palpatine, and his part in the destruction of the Jedi and Republic order, to Gary Oldman's Dracula seems a rather superficial and erroneous comparison to make (unless you're basing it on something else I've missed?). Secondly, your critique of Palps negates the fact that Darth Vader, or even Boba Fett (even less written/explained characters) are iconic and held in high regard. Your example of Vader seems to be based on visuals alone rather than anything else... Also, comparing Palpatine to a cliche 'sorcerer' seems somewhat misjudged given that we have princesses, wizards, pirates, farmboys and black knights in the mix. I'm left wondering have you watched the films at all?
That's great and all but stop double posting.
@DarthPJ... Ahhh. Yeah. I think that this whole debate is becoming a PT v OT thing. I mean, because yeah, emotion, visuals, and the audience's personal imagnination have nothing to do with watching movies, in particular movies like SW, which in theory, are meant to stimulate our dreams, which are not exactly rational constructs. That's why I prefer the OT to the PT. In the PT Lucas completely and unnecessarily tried to micro-manage our collective dream state when we were in the movie theater, Darth-like. Not good. He sort of killed everything that makes SW SW, IMHO.
The OT works as well as it does, not only for what we actually see on the screen, but because it provides wiggle-room for our imaginations, these movies provide a canvas onto which individual audience members can project their own fantasies, thereby experiencing an often exhilarating, sometimes moving, and--until then--an unprecedented vicarious experience. That's SW. At least for me.
In the OT Lucas didn't simply pluck time-worn archetypes and plug them into a "futuristic" setting. That's what "Flash Gordan" does, as Darth Pevra suggests. With the OT, Lucas brought the future to us, the audience members sitting in the movie theater in the here and now. It felt... authentic. (there's that word again) Your father's greasy garage was suddenly made super cool, the place to be, even. SW became its own universe where light sabers exist, a startling and original invention at the time.
In the PT, however, Lucas merely busted a "Flash Gordan" and gave us "laser swords." In the PT Lucas didn't give us the Emperor, i.e., a Sith Lord (who already sorta looked a lot like your run-of-the-mill evil sorcerer in the OT), he gave us the evil sorcerer cliche in tact without even trying to put a new spin on the archetype. The result would have been a complete bore if not for McDirmid's hammy but entertaining performance. Vader, Luke, Leia, Han, and to a lesser extent side characters like Boba Fett, transcended their original archetypes with flying colors. Had you ever heard a dark knight sound or talk like Vader before? Was this dude a robot? Was he human? What made him tick? It was all very fresh and reinvigorating for not only fantasy archetypes but for those of samurai movies, westerns, etc.. But, again, more importantly, and perhaps improbably, Star Wars succeeded in becoming its own thing, with its own mythology, rules, and style.
Look at it this way: If the creators of the original B&W "Flash Gordan" serial had busted an OT, in those shows you wouldn't have had silly-looking men running around in skimpy skirts and sandals, you would have had archetypal fantasy heroes and villains wearing expertly designed "space-age" woolen sweaters and hats as they flew around in freaked-out, flying versions of 1930's Ford model firetruck jalopies or something--not in dildo-shaped rockets (I know, I know, what other shape would they come in?) or in flying saucers or whatnot. But that's what FG gives us and that's what Lucas gave us in the PT. More flying saucers and silly characters.
Having said all that, the PT might be a more conceptually unified and aesthetically streamlined cinematic vision, after all. Haha. Lucas's vision there is cleaner and less problematic. Alas, that's not what I expect from Star Wars, at least not from MY Star Wars. =] Long live the OT, and here's looking forward to JJ&Co. getting it right with the new trilogy.
Sifo Dyas is the baddie. Still wondered what happened to that guy. I love how the PT just mentioned characters once but they had a huge role to play in the fate of the galaxy: Like, Sifo Dyas and Plagueis. Maybe those two will be the baddies together.
I think you're in danger of imbuing the OT with things that aren't nesersarily there... Han, Luke and Leia are more engaging than their PT counterparts 'despite' them being cliched characters. Perhaps it's the casting, acting or less stilted dialogue (reasons that are debated within other threads), but I see zero evidence to suggest that they are any less 'cliched' and more 'complex' in nature. Indeed, I think Anakin is the most complex character of all...
In terms of your un-waning subjectivity I'd like to highlight that (for example) Vader's popularity has little to do with any percieved complexity, originality or depth of character but rather it's the iconic design, Burt's sound effects and the voice of JEJ. It's all pretty much surface, surface, surface. So I'm always dubious of critiques that conveniently overlook the same factors within the OT.
Reminds me of that theory that Sifo-Dyas is Palpatine before he turned to the Dark Side.
I hope instead of Storm Troopers, we get Super Troopers.
"Who wants a free mustache ride?"
think you're in danger of imbuing the OT with things that aren't nesersarily there...
@Darth PJ: I like living in the danger zone, what can I say...?
Nonetheless, I think that I've defended my position quite well this whole time, intellectually and whatnot. The OT stimulates my imagination in ways that the PT, for the most part, does not, and it's not about mere "subjectivity" (i.e., my disappointment that Lucas didn't project my own take onto the screen in the PT ). It's the originality of surface design in the OT and how these elements provide a reflective canvas for the audience, yes, but also the small but poignant touches of humanity in the characters themselves that allow me to relate and live inside the OT. That last part there I think is where we're not seeing eye-eye here. (Boba Fett obviously looked cool, but his chilling practicality and his ballsy defiance of Vader showed enough depth of character to make him a distinct and indelible personality to me--while also making him mysterious (And, yes, Jango had his moments in AOTC, but a) We'd already seen this kind of character before and b) He wasn't as interesting under that helmet, IMO)) Granted, I should probably sit down and right a book where I can clarify my argument about all of this instead...
Alas, I think that you're just being head-strong now, Darth PJ. I'm not even sure anymore if you really are defending a position or if you're simply trying to prove me wrong. All well and good, in that I obviously enjoy a good SW debate my damn self and you're definitely keeping me on my toes here on the Jedi Forums. And you are a Darth, after all. The way I see it, though, this debate has two sides to it, both with some very good and very questionable points to make. This is Star Wars we're talking about, after all! I'll concede that Palpatine/Sidious is an important character in the SW Saga and leave it at that. As a fellow SW nerd I've truly enjoyed the overall debate on 'ole Palps/Sidious and all the insight into this character/force of nature that I hadn't had to consider in so much depth before, insights that were so generously provided by fellow Star Wars Nerds here. That's five emoticons and I'm out.
"Look at it this way: If the creators of the original B&W "Flash Gordan" serial had busted an OT, in those shows you wouldn't have had silly-looking men running around in skimpy skirts and sandals, you would have had archetypal fantasy heroes and villains wearing expertly designed "space-age" woolen sweaters and hats as they flew around in freaked-out, flying versions of 1930's Ford model firetruck jalopies or something--not in dildo-shaped rockets (I know, I know, what other shape would they come in?) or in flying saucers or whatnot. But that's what FG gives us and that's what Lucas gave us in the PT. More flying saucers and silly characters."
On second thought I might have been a bit blinded by emotion and engaged in a little hyperbole myself here. Haha. Lucas didn't exactly give us "Flash Gordan" (which can be cool in a niche, campy space-opera sort of way) with the PT. There are characters in the PT that could easily fit into the OT model. Having said that, if he hadn't been shackled to the OT, Lucas would have given us just that, another FG not SW. =]
Fair enough. I think GL went retro for a number of reasons, one of them a homage to FG, which influenced and preceded the OT. What better way to honor FG than in the PT, the story that precedes the OT? I've learned Lucas does everything for a reason. We may see it differently, but he has his reasons nonetheless.
If the creators of the original B&W "Flash Gordan" serial had busted an OT, in those shows you wouldn't have had silly-looking men running around in skimpy skirts and sandals, you would have had archetypal fantasy heroes and villains wearing expertly designed "space-age" woolen sweaters and hats as they flew around in freaked-out, flying versions of 1930's Ford model firetruck jalopies or something--not in dildo-shaped rockets (I know, I know, what other shape would they come in?) or in flying saucers or whatnot. ]
I've learned Lucas does everything for a reason.
Indeed. I was also a bit off evoking automobiles from the 1930's in the context of SW. SW designs are more timeless than that, because they tend to be weirder, especially in the OT. I should have said something more in the vain of a flying 1930's telephone or even a hamburger--on which Lucas apparently modeled the Millenium Falcon itself.
Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon will be the villains because they're angry that Star Wars ripped them off.
To be honest I didn't really understand that paragraph re. Flash Gordon - hypebole or not. I personally thought the prequels were brilliant from a design point of view... From Naboo architecture and the Naboo starfighter to Trade Federation battletanks and droid fighters. I don't think Lucas was trying to make it more 'Flash Gordon', but simply allowing himeself to be influenced by some of that retro sci-fi e.g the trade federation video screens.
As mentioned previously, I don't think the PT is perfect by any stretch of the imagination (particularly TPM) but it was that I'd never heard anyone criticise the characterisation of Palpatine/Sidious before. I was under the impression that even those that don't like the PT liked Palpatine/Sidious... So I was'nt trying to prove you wrong or anything, just trying to get underneath your comments.
Those slicker-yellow Naboo star fighters have some of he best design elements in all the SW movies to date. Now if only thy had been models... =P
I hated those fighters so much. They were so squeaky-clean and simply didn't have the overall "Star Wars feel" for me. Nothing on Naboo ever did, to be honest.
Yeah, I hate Naboo in general.
The Naboo star fighter were better than X-Wings for me (although obviously not as iconic) Just goes to show.
I thought it a great way for Lucas to contrast high culture in the PT and its erosion and destruction by the OT.
I was surprised I liked those Naboo yellows so much.
Those yellows were ugly. Vomitious.