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.


Andrew said...

Luke was meant to find Yoda. Can't you see why he crashed right next to his hut? He was being unwittingly guided by The Force of course! Perfectly plausible.

Stephen said...

Hmm, yes - but the "Force" the characters speak of so fequently is very close in my mind to"heavy-handed authoreial intent" ie The "Force" is really another word for George Lucas!

e.g. Jar Jar - How will we find our way through the planet core?

Qui-Gon - The Force will guide us