You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Akin on Anakin

Great. So now, as well as the infamous "Death Cookie", Jack Chick's going to give Catholics stick about the "Death Rarebit"...

And speaking of Rome's billions of mind-controlled bondslaves, I saw this intriguing piece today by following a link from Jimmy Akin's blog, which in turn I found by following a link from Mark Shea's blog.

Here's Akin:

Lucas has said that the new trilogy is much more like what he envisioned the first trilogy, but he didn't have the tech (or the money) to make it the way he saw it.

Not everything Lucas says in this regard is true. He makes it sound as if the story of all six movies was clear in his mind when he made the first, and that patently isn't true -- at least if you read the original scripts (also available in an easier-to-use book form). Lucas had all kinds of stuff in the originals that indicate his vision of the story changed in midstream -- repeatedly. Yet the original series ended up clicking in a way no previous movie trilogy had.

Despite the alterations to the plot, I think that Lucas is telling the truth when he says he originally imagined a much more lush, detail-rich universe for the original trilogy, yet for budgetary (and non-budgetary) reasons, he ended up cutting it way back.

As the years have passed, he has now begun adding back the missing detail, in the "Special Edition" of the original films that was released in theaters, in the Extra-Special Super Chocolate Fudgy Edition that has now been released on DVD, and most notably in the films of the current trilogy.

As he's added more detail, fans of the original series have been complaining, and loudly.

There are some circumstances in which adding detail hurts a work of art, situations in which less is more.

That's the message fans of the original Star Wars movies have been sending to Lucas, but he doesn't seem to have gotten the message.

And here's the main piece, by Andrew Rilstone:

... George Lucas stands revealed as one of a long and illustrious line of artists who has dedicated himself to ruining one of their great works—because they have totally failed to recognize what made it so great.

The draft versions of Star Wars, particularly The Adventures of the Star Killer are fair to middling sci fi fantasy adventures. They would have made decent 70s movies, to file alongside Logan's Run and Zardoz and forget about. Star Killer contains lots of mumbo jumbo and made up politics and a huge weight of backstory. Lucas—then if not now a skilled storyteller—had the sense to surgically remove all that material, and leave nothing but the bare skeleton of the story. Ever since, he has regretted cutting up his baby, and is now engaged in re-instating as much of the lost material as he possibly can. But he has completely failed to realize that it was precisely the 'cutting back' process that made Star Wars such a classic movie.

Star Wars works because almost every extraneous detail has been removed; so that we end up with something almost abstract. We might recognize it as an abstract diagram of the structure of stories even if we had never heard of Joseph Campbell. The word 'archetype' is over-used: it might be better to say that the Star Wars characters (Hero, Villain, Hero's Helper) its settings (Desert, Jungle) its back story and its tropes (Old Republic, Evil Empire, The Force) are vast, broad generalizations. If the backstory were to be sketched in this abstract quality would evaporate. But this is precisely what Lucas's intention seems to be: to turn the Old Republic from an abstract icon of a golden age into a generic city full of squabbling politicians; to turn Obi-Wan from the Hero's Mentor into a movie character; and to turn the Force from a brilliant symbol of religion into a bit of Dungeons and Dragons cod mythology...

Great stuff. Read it all. Right now. But what in Grapthar's Hammer is "cod mythology"?!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From the OED online:
cod, n.5

1. A slang appellation applied to persons, with various forces: see the quotations.
c1690 B. E. Dict. Cant. Crew, Cod, also a Fool..An honest Cod, a trusty Friend. 1708 MOTTEUX Rabelais V. v. (1737) 18 O what an honest Cod was this same Ædituus. 1851 C. D. BEVAN Let. in Beddoes' Poems & Lett. (Introd.) 130 [At the Charterhouse]..In those days the pensioners (or as we called them ‘Cods’) were not remarkable..for cleanliness. 1855 THACKERAY Newcomes II. 333 The old reverend black-gowns..the Cistercian lads called these old gentlemen Codds{em}I know not wherefore. 1873 Slang Dict., Cod, to hoax, to take a ‘rise’ out of one. Used as a noun, a fool. 1878 MACLEOD Hist. Dumbarton II. 46 Ye vile drunken cod.

2. A joke; a hoax, leg-pull; a parody, a ‘take-off’. (See also E.D.D. n.5) Also attrib. or quasi-adj., parodying, burlesque; ‘mock’.
1905 Sketch LI. 472/2 Says he: ‘Is that an absolute bargain{em}no cod?’ Says she: ‘I don't know what the fish has to do with it, but I am perfectly sincere.’ 1914 JOYCE Portr. Artist (1916) i. 45 Some fellows had drawn it there for a cod. 1952 GRANVILLE Dict. Theatr. Terms 46 Cod version, a burlesque of a well-known play. 1959 Church Times 16 Jan. 4/4 The ‘cod’ Victorian decorations tend to disguise the editor's underlying seriousness. 1959 Listener 29 Jan. 228/1 She obliged, initially in the delicious hiccup polka, a cod of Old Vienna. Ibid. 228/2 Joyce Grenfell too, doing her evergreen cod chorister. 1961 B. WELLS Day Earth caught Fire ii. 31 Pete picked up the empty tea mug and again used it as a cod mike. ‘Alcoholics of the press, unite! 1962 Listener 5 July 36/1 The very idiosyncratic cod cockney of the scenes. 1970 Guardian 11 May 8/2 The cod version of ‘Road to Mandalay’.