Monday, 26 January 2015

Another Time, Another Place

Which is my way of paraphrasing "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away," and leading into our recent re-watching of all six Star Wars films.  I still remember seeing the original black posters with the words Star Wars on railway billboards and wondering what it was all about?  Then finding out more, and being enthralled by a display in a local record shop that had devoted an entire window to the John Williams Star Wars album with the tantalizing shots from the movie on the inside of the double album sleeve.  Then watching the opening scene for the first time and I was blown away, and I remember going to see the film 21 times.  I was obsessed.

Even back then, when I was a lot younger and certainly far more naive than I am now, I knew there were plot holes in the original movie that one can fly the Death Star through, but they weren't important in the bigger scheme of things, because Star Wars was an epic tale in the traditional story telling style; as discussed in the book The Seven Basic plots by Christopher Booker, which I cunningly reviewed in my last post here.

Lucas has been quoted as saying that the inspiration behind StarWars comes from reading Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces about the existence of a mono-myth that crosses all cultures.  This book treats traditional story telling from the perspective of comparative mythology, but Campbell like Booker uses discredited Freudian & Jungian theories, which I find troubling.  Also Campbell largely disregards the feminine in favour of the masculine narrative.

But enough of discussing that academic pontification, otherwise I'll drain all the fun out of one of my favourite movies.

We sat down and watched a movie a night and I found myself enjoying the prequels as much as the originals, which was slightly surprising given my previously held feelings on them.  However, on reflection I think that back in 1999, when The Phantom Menace came out, the expectation and hype meant that the no matter how good the film was it wasn't going to meet people's expectations.  Now time has passed it no longer feels disappointing to watch.  Yes I agree Jar-Jar sucks, but he's there for much the same reason the Ewoks were in Return of the Jedi, and I'm reminded of what I say to old die-hard Dr Who fans who complain about New Who – it's not for you, it's for the youngsters who have never seen it before.

So I still like The Empire Strikes Back most of all, but without A New Hope we would never have had it, so the first is probably still the best.  Then in order of enjoyment I think Revenge of the Sith, followed by Attack of the Clones, Return of the Jedi and then The Phantom Menace.  However it has to be said that The Phantom Menace is totally lush, and the extended Pod Race and the death of Qui-Gon Jinn at the end of what was the first epic light sabre battle ever means that just because I've listed it last doesn't means it hasn't got its good points.

Now there is another... trilogy.

You bet I'm stoked about the new film coming at Xmas, which is also a long time and very far away as I write this.  For me it's a fulfillment of the original promise made by Lucas that there would be nine films; a trilogy of trilogies.  So excited that not only did we re-watch the movies, but we've been playing a great little games called Star Wars: X-Wing where you get to pilot the fighters around one's dining room table while listening to the music and quoting lines from the movies.
And of course Randall Munroe of XKCD makes a good point.

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