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

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Star Wars: Episodes I-VI - The greatest postmodern art film ever

Interesting (if a little excitable) article about Star Wars and Po-mo on MSN's Slate. Quote:

"With the release of Episode III Revenge of the Sith on DVD today, George Lucas' audience can finally see all six Star Wars films back-to-back, as a single text. This is how Lucas himself regards the series, often joking that, including his 1973 hit American Graffiti, he has made only three movies in his career. One of the surprises in store after a marathon viewing is how much of the young Lucas, the self-conscious avant-gardist of THX1138, is actually visible onscreen, peeking out from behind the endless sequences of digitally enhanced space battles and ritualized light-saber duels. Looking at these familiar films with fresh eyes, unfiltered by the lens of nostalgia and sentiment—and it was, admittedly, a resonant moment this summer to watch the final episode with my father, who had taken me to see the original film in 1977 when I was 8—we start to see just how deeply weird they really are. Three decades on, the kids who grew up playing with Luke Skywalker action figures and carrying Princess Leia lunchboxes may be startled to discover that Star Wars is really just one big elephantine postmodern art film." ...more

I enjoyed this - quite a good analysis - except - in my opinion, the author is reading a little too much order into Lucas' chaotic, inconsistent and downright bizarro work. Many "postmodernists" celebrate Star Wars precisely because it is so incoherent - the post modern identy on celuloid, if you will. And what of the argument that no work has a single, controlling author - not just books, whose authors are embedded in their socio-cultural mileau, but also films, the products of many, many hands and thousands of hours of labour (and in the case of the costumers on LOTR, unpaid).

All narrative is heavily dependent on "coincidence"- the clumsy author demonstres a lack of skill by having them shine like beaconss, the better author makes them seem more plausible. Think of the many "coincidences" in the narrative of your own life. Jung didn't invent the term "synchronicity" for nothing! That's what makes a fictional coincidence plausible (it resembles what may happen in real life) rather than a giant leap of logic that's impossible to swallow (ala Lucas).

An audience can only suspend disbelief on so many fronts. Talking robots, flying cars, intergalactic space battles, sure, but Luke Skywalker crashing his plane directly opposite Yoda's hut of Dagobah? Come on! What are the odds? Maybe that's why many "conventional" film reviewers reject much of what passes as science fiction - too narratively implausible, rather than imaginatively outrageous.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Episode III DVD

I have received the most recent "Homing Beacon", promoting the latest release of the (hopefully last) Star wars movie on DVD (Epidoes III of VI, of course!).

With interst I saw that Lucas had decided to include

" a brand-new full-length documentary produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. as well as two new featurettes -- one that explores the prophecy of Anakin Skywalker as the Chosen One, and the other that looks at the movie's amazing stunts. "

The real amazing stunt is how Lucas got his audience to swallow the prophecy line. Maybe this was the footage edited out of the movies that helped them all make sense - instead we had lingering scenes of Tatooine's twin suns melting into the horizon, more steely glares and pouts from Hayden Christiansen than we care to remember, and a hundred gazillion costume changes for poor Natalie Portman, along with some stupid droid sub-plot / backstory that went nowhere and added nothing.

George, a reminder from one of your now less-strong-with-the-force fans: story is at the heart of a movie, and science fiction movies demand this probably more than any other as there is so much disbelief to suspend. A prophecy about a boy conceived by midi-chlorians, conjured by Darth Sidious using the 11 secret herbs and spices recipe of Darth Sanders, is pretty central to an understanding of how the first three films tie together. Not backstory material. Unless, George, you are planning a Tolikienesque Silmarillion pre-prequel, with Eldar, Istar and Numenorians.

Too bad I'll have to be springing for the $30 needed to buy this so I can finally make sense of the previous $300 I have already thrown at the movies, DVDs books and games. Let's hope it's all been worth it. Maybe the prophecy will tell me to hand over my bank account details to George Lucas. Already done.