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Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Doctor Shark
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One of the more troubling moments of the prequel BTS stuff is watching Spielberg enthusiastically reinforce everything Lucas is excited about.

He was trying to be a good friend at the time, sure, but you just know he agrees with everyone else on the planet about the quality of those movies.

A commenter on Badass Digest's review of Clint Eastwood's American Sniper said of that film and Interstellar:

What we end up with is a recurring theme of stories to which Spielberg didn't feel he could do justice, with which other directors went ahead anyway and then made movies that demonstrated they couldn't do justice to those stories either.

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Nothing beats Darth Maul's brother:

SAVAGE OPRESS

I hope they have a few more siblings out there. Annihilate Crush, Barbaric Intimidate, Rampage Apocalypse, etc.

I think Crush might be copyrighted by those Candy numpties, now. He'd have to be Annihilate By Means Of Applying Inward Force On One Or More Sides.

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Star Wars had the advantage not just of that, but of having to be written and rewritten hundreds of times. and somewhere along the way Katz, Hyuck and Coppola suggested that he make the structure like a fairy tale (as this long, wierd alien script (about a princess) was pretty impenetrable) - and that ladies and gentlemen was one of the the most influential story decisions in the history of cinema (Lucas claimed he planned it all along - but the more you read the less true that appears).

Around the time Episode II came out, I read an article on the Internet criticising George Lucas' namedropping of Joseph Campbell's monomythical Hero With A Thousand Faces. It argued that this was essentially an after-the-fact attempt to explain Star Wars' massive success by making it seem like he intentionally tapped into something highbrow and respectable, by hiding the golden age SF works that were really his major influence.

I'm pretty sure it was this one from Salon (thank you, Google search-by-date-range):

http://www.salon.com/2002/04/10/lucas_5/

“The Empire Strikes Back” is the film that makes obvious the paper trail linking George Lucas to literary science fiction; ironically, it also marks the beginning of Lucas’ unheroic journey from honest entertainer to galactic gasbag. The first recorded blats are to be found in Time magazine’s May 1980 cover story. Associate editor Gerald Clarke, who had praised the original flick for its lighthearted refusal to offer anything like a serious message, now finds “a moral dimension that touches us much more deeply than one-dimensional action adventures can.” A sidebar, ponderously headlined “In the Footsteps of Ulysses,” cites everything from “The Odyssey” to “Pilgrim’s Progress” before concluding that the “Star Wars” films “draw from the same deep wells of mythology, the unconscious themes that have always dominated history on the planet.”

The long and noteworthy career of Leigh Brackett, needless to say, figures in none of this; her links to a despised genre made her invisible to the pop-culture savants at Time. Lucas himself, who had guardedly acknowledged three years earlier that he enjoyed science fiction, now offers a carefully pruned reading list. “I wanted ‘Star Wars’ to have an epic quality, so I went back to the epics,” he says. “Whether they are subconscious or unconscious, whatever needs they meet, they are stories that have pleased or provided comfort to people for thousands of years.” Not only that, they aren’t protected by copyright laws.

Better still, “the epics” make for an infinitely classier set of influences than stories rooted in what remains one of the most stubbornly down-market literary genres America has produced. Would an eminence grise like Bill Moyers want to be seen trifling with spaceships and ray guns? Would film buffs who pride themselves on knowing every nuance of a silly Western like “The Searchers” stoop to analyze a lowly science fiction movie? Certainly the New Yorker would not have sent John Seabrook to profile Lucas for its January 1997 issue if people thought there were nothing more than sci-fi thrills going on.

Seabrook’s profile signals the completion of the papier-mâché Parthenon that Lucas erected around his series. “One can go through ‘Star Wars’ and almost pick out chapter headings from Campbell’s ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces,’” Seabrook writes, helpfully listing them as “the hero’s call to adventure, the refusal of the call, the arrival of supernatural aid, the crossing of the first threshold, the belly of the whale, and a series of ordeals culminating in a showdown with the angry father.”

Campbell specialized in treating religious imagery as a set of metaphors divorced from historical context, a method that allowed him to talk, for example, about the Crucifixion as symbolizing the tree of life in an agrarian society, when in fact it was a very concrete reference to a particularly atrocious form of execution, rooted in a very specific period. Campbell’s ability to generate whirlwinds of cross-cultural references makes his chatter sound tremendously erudite — his disarming style reduced Moyers to an awestruck supplicant in the “Power of Myth” series — but once the dust settles it’s hard to grasp the point of it all. So it’s no surprise that these alleged correspondences between mythical themes and “Star Wars” get a tad slippery when one tries to nail them down.

That “belly of the whale” business, for example, is supposedly evoked when the hero is swallowed up by a large monster. “This represents the entry into a mystical world where transformations occur, and the eventual escape represents a spiritual rebirth,” explains the program to “Star Wars: The Magic of Myth,” the exhibition that turned the Smithsonian into a “Star Wars” gift shop.

According to the program, this motif appears twice in “The Empire Strikes Back”: first, when Han Solo and Princess Leia unwittingly fly into the gullet of an enormous space slug; later, when Darth Vader is shown chilling out in “an egg-like meditation chamber.” But in neither instance does a significant transformation occur: Darth simply resumes his bad-guy duties, while Han and Leia keep on a-fussin’ and a-feudin’ until they declare their love near the end of the film.

Ur-daddy Joseph Campbell, on the other hand, found the motif in the original “Star Wars,” when Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie fall into the Death Star trash compactor, which promptly sets to work squashing them. This is explicated in the most unintentionally hilarious section of the “Power of Myth” interviews. “My favorite scene was when they were in the garbage compactor,” Moyers says, “and the walls were closing in, and I thought, ‘That’s like the belly of the whale that swallowed Jonah.’” Campbell replies that the scene is “a variant of the death and resurrection theme,” in which the hero begins to discover his power.

All of this would make sense if Luke used the Force to hold back the crushing walls. But nothing of the sort happens in this scene: Luke and his friends escape only through the timely help of the dithering robot C3PO. Innumerable action-adventure heroes have had to fight their way out of rooms in which the walls or ceiling slowly close in. Campbell is taking a standard cliffhanger plot device — one as hoary as having a mustachioed villain tie the heroine to a railroad track, or send her trundling toward a sawmill blade — and trying to pump it full of significance, with predictably flatulent results.

That's just a section of that article. Twelve years on, it seems a lot snarkier and generally less persuasive than I remember it. (Note the dig at Blade Runner in the penultimate paragraph of the full thing!)

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lucas's influences were pulp comics, saturday morning serials, 2001's special FXs and Japanese cinema. thats all he spoke about in interviews in the lead up to filming in 76. the original scripts were complicated and devoid of character - and it was the Copolla's that suggested using a fairy tale structure to navigate through all the weird alien concepts - as people would just get that. Star Wars lifted various pulp concepts that were in the public consciousness and mixed them together in an interesting way. nothing wrong with that... but that early part of Star Wars has been largely rewritten.

it wasn't until 1978 when a few articles came out linking Joseph Campbell's work to Lucas's and that he retrofitted it as his own - and used campbell's profile to elevate Star Wars as some grand plan to reinvent the fairy tale. the way he repurposed history kinda speaks volumes about lucas.

and maybe thats where the true problems with the prequels lie. as lucas began to take this myth stuff over power his story telling. why did padme die of a broken heart? because he pulled it directly from a few folk tales that seemed to use it as a universal motif. shame it was horribly acted and didn't fit convincingly with the character or narrative he had set up.

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and maybe thats where the true problems with the prequels lie. as lucas began to take this myth stuff over power his story telling. why did padme die of a broken heart? because he pulled it directly from a few folk tales that seemed to use it as a universal motif. shame it was horribly acted and didn't fit convincingly with the character or narrative he had set up.

It was totally at odds with the character he had set up. It's amazing that he didn't see it...Besides the the obvious flaw that people who are medically fine don't normally die she had just given birth to twins AND believes that there was still good in Anikin. So I dunno why, someone who for the last two movies had always fought, even when the odds were against her, would suddenly give up. It literally makes no sense.

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quite, she was Queen of a planet at 14, represented the planet as Senator at the galactic senate or whatever at 24, worked for some galaxy-wide disaster relief organisation and went on lots of adventures across the galaxy, became pregnant with twins, had faith in her lover's essential goodness despite him becoming a baddy and beating her up and then... just gives up. Why did that make more sense to Lucas than her suffering a fatal injury that she bravely fought but her will and medical science were insufficient to save her life?

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[Padme is in the medical center]

GH-7 Medical Droid: Medically, she is completely healthy. For reasons we can't explain, we are losing her.

Obi-Wan: She's dying?

GH-7 Medical Droid: We don't know why. She has lost the will to live. We need to operate quickly if we are to save the babies.

Senator Bail Organa: Babies?

GH-7 Medical Droid: She's carrying twins.

MEDICAL DROID: Medically, she is completely healthy. For reasons we can't explain, we are losing her.

OBI-WAN: She's dying?

MEDICAL DROID: We don't know why. She has lost the will to live. We need to operate quickly if we are to save the babies.

No face palm gif on the web could possibly suffice.

Edit: o/\o

I've seen the film loads and never, ever noticed that. I think my brain must have just gone into shock at how bad it is and blanked it out every time I watch it.

Homer-Simpson-Zoned-Out.gif

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It's really odd.

Why not watch a few episodes of ER or something?

GH-7 Medical Droid: I'm sorry, we've tried everything we can, but the damage is too severe and extensive.
Obi-Wan: She's dying?
GH-7 Medical Droid: We need to operate quickly if we are to save the babies.
Senator Bail Organa: Babies?
GH-7 Medical Droid: She's carrying twins.
Obi-Wan: Twins?
GH-7 Medical Droid: Yes, twins! Now stop asking stupid questions and give me a signed consent form with her insurance details.
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Juno and Young Adult director Jason Reitman has got a bunch of actors together for a live script reading of The Empire Strikes Back. From the cast he's announced, it sounds like the evening could be a lot of fun:

Luke Skywalker - Aaron Paul

Han Solo - Ellen Page

Princess Leia - Jessica Alba

Darth Vader - J.K Simmons

C3P0 - Stephen Merchant

Lando Calrissian - Dennis Haysbert

Yoda - Kevin Pollak

Amazing scenes, etc.

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