Show Me on the Trilogy-David Pascoe

Show Me on the Trilogy-David Pascoe
I love Star Wars (unlike Her BbES Highnessness, who I’m more or less convinced just doesn’t like the competition). It was likely the most formative milieu of my early youth, and remains an easy place to rest my thoughts. My father had, at some point in the misty, murky passages of pre-time, acquired an LP of the Empire soundtrack, and before we had a VHS player, I used to listen to it for hours while trying desperately to get my Legos into the right configuration for an X-Wing or a TIE Fighter. (Couldn’t happen; they didn’t have all the nifty pieces they’ve since created. Back in MY day, we had to put our Legos together barefoot, backwards, both ways, in the snow AND the dark. It was a rough period in my life. Now, of course, I just can’t afford all the sets I deserve. /sigh)

My father introduced me to that long time ago, in that galaxy far, far away at a formative point in my childhood, and I immediately incorporated the mythos into what went on in my head. Space wizards and heart-of-gold smugglers, inhuman (literally) bounty hunters and brooding over it all, the Big Man in his black mask. His first scene, where the stormtroopers breach the door onto the Tantive IV, and he steps through after they’ve slaughtered the rebel scum? Used to make me jump. Every time.

Since then, I’ve learned about Joseph Campbell, and developed a fair sense of story and how to go about putting a universe together for others’ enjoyment, and I’m morally certain that Lucas screwed up a few things. Now, admittedly, many of those only become glaringly, painfully obvious once the two prequels were released in theaters (I’ve heard there was something that came between the original trilogy, and the two others, but I have it on good authority that it’s a poorly done fanfic of a film, and that an otherwise excellent cast did the best they could with what they were given. Which halfway applies to the prequels, as well. It’s knotty). The joke became, “show me on the trilogy where George hurt you,” and it was painful to watch a lot of it. Of course, half of that pain was the Big Bad Guy being a whiny adolescent. Something to look forward to in about a decade and change, when Wee Dave goes to the Dark Side.

But there are some kinda messed up stuff about the Star Wars universe. The Good Guys use the Force to cloud men’s minds “influence the weak minded,” in the words of one prominent Jedi master. They are an unelected elite, super-powered by reason of an accident of birth, and given the authority to judge their fellow sentients. In one scene, the oligarchy at the top of the Jedi Order actually discuss (and then attempt to implement) what amounts to a military coup. And we’re told these are the good guys.

On the other hand, the Bad Guys are, well, pretty bad. Working to topple a corrupt and oppressive government that is so weak as to fall prey to the guilds and unions of the hyper-wealthy. The government of a polity so loosely aligned that its internal politics are dominated by a few major players; whose elite work toward their own ends, rather than what will benefit those who owe them allegiance. (Wait a sec, that sounds like American politics…) And it’s not like these Darths are exactly working toward reformation, except in the sense that galactic society will be reformed according to their will.

Murder, intrigue, subversion, all are legitimate tactics in pursuit of their goals. We even get to see an innocent and carefree (*cough* for a slave *cough*) young boy grow into a whining and petulent adolescent twisted into one of the most recognizable of villains in pop culture through the machinations of a single, powerful Bad Guy. A bad guy who thinks nothing of throwing whole systems into chaos. He manipulates millions to fuel his rise to power. Wars are fought, entire species enslaved, all to put one man on a throne. And eliminate those pesky Jedi, of course.

And there’s messed up, and then there’s messed up. How does the economy of the Old Republic work, actually? There are a few things known about specific corporate entities. Han Solo wields a BlasTech pistol. Crime lords have enormous power, albeit on the outskirts of otherwise “civilized” space. Free traders seem rampant, and the space pirates who prey on them. What about governance? There is, presumably (it’s mentioned a couple of times) an extensive bureaucracy, but the audience never actually sees much of its influence. Obi-wan Kenobi never has to show up to traffic court to explain that midnight chase through the air-lanes of Coruscant. Did he even have a valid driver’s license?

And what about the Empire? Is it a command economy, as seems reasonable from the autocratic and militaristic nature of that particular beast? We have no idea, as such details are missing from the films, and the canon lore is in a constant state of flux (thanks, Disney). How does the Rebel Alliance function, logistically speaking. They seem to have sufficient resources to wage war on a galactic hyper-power. Do they control whole systems? Is there some kind of shadow economy funneling them money through donations to popular charities? Save the Aquatic Gundark, perhaps? Keep Dantooine Green?

Speaking of rebel scum, how are they freedom fighters, instead of terrorists? Dialogue from Episode IV suggests they regularly engage in espionage against military targets. What about the Luke Skywalker guy? Celebrated Hero, or mass murderer? How many lives must have been snuffed out when he destroyed the Peace Star?

There’s a lot to learn from the series of five films, and assorted additional source material. Or at least a lot of speculation possible, which, to be fair, is the more likely. Especially for a writer. Especially for a writer of space opera. I’ll be digging through George’s magnum opus in the coming weeks, and I look forward to your thoughts.

292 responses to “Show Me on the Trilogy-David Pascoe

  1. I probably should watch Star Wars some time, since there are so many references to it. The problem is that while I liked Firefly the only Science Fiction movie I can think of liking was Armageddon, oh and if you consider Deep Blue sci-fi you can add it. I’m sure there are a couple others I’m not thinking of, but as a general rule I find sci-fi movies to be a great disappointment. Everybody raved about Interstellar, so I wasted three hours I’ll never get back watching it, the one thing good I can say about it, was it was a lot better than that travesty they called John Carter.

    • Its funny, because comparing Interstellar to John Carter of Mars, I liked John Carter better. I admit having read the original JCoM when I was a kid, gobbled the whole series down, so perhaps my recollection of the movie is unfairly rose coloured.

      My problem with Interstellar was the unlikely decision making.

      Do you pick the planet deeeep in the event horizon of a black hole for first visit when you have limited time and limited fuel? Unlikely.

      Do you go to interstellar space in an UNARMED spacecraft that just anybody can hijack? Please.

      Those kinds of plot holes are a lot more annoying than the clearly fantastical ones in JCoM, for my money.

      • Question: after how many years, decades, centuries, or numbers of systems explored of going out exploring other solar systems and finding no life, fossils, or life but only archeological remains of intelligent species out there, would you believe that the bureaucracy yanked the guns, assuming that space was just cost prohibitive enough that humans didn’t yet have space pirates?

        • Realizing it was bureaucrats, and liberal/progressives according to the movie, the fact that they didn’t allow weapons on their spacecraft was entirely believable, to me.

      • I liked JCoM the Movie, it shows the origin of the beginning of Superman, the Space Opera, and super heroes. About the books, they were written in 1911 following the common theories of the day

    • Sara the Red

      I felt that, while it was light on the ‘science’ part, John Carter was a great, romping good time of a fantasy-adventure film. (And Disney’s abysmal marketing is the real reason it went ‘splat.’ According to family members who love the JCoM series, the film was actually pretty true to its source material. Albeit with more clothes involved…)

      • I liked John Carter the movie. I couldn’t really get into the books.

        • Sara the Red

          Edgar Rice Burroughs is…an acquired taste. The man told amazingly awesome stories–but technique/style wise, he was a postively *atrocious* writer. 😀

          I haven’t read the Barsoom books, but I’ve read nearly all the Tarzan books and loved them. Though there’s a loooong stretch in the middle of the series where they got very, very formulaic. But they’re still great good fun.

          • I’ve read most of the Barsoom books on Gutenberg. For some reason I can’t explain, I keep leaving Chessmen of Mars and not going back to it whenever I try to read it, but other than that, I recommend them.

            • I like ’em better than the Tarzan books because he had the sense to see that he had to change heroes and heroines to keep the story fresh.

              It is possible to write a book about a hero rescuing his wife and the mother of his children; it is not, however, the same as the book about rescuing the maiden whose affections he has not secured, and Burroughs really didn’t have the knack for that. It was also unwise to omit the love story, which gave him a beginning, middle, and end for the adventures.

              • Yep, A Fighting Man of Mars is my favorite Barsoom book, and it has a hero and heroine totally unrelated to those in the other books.

            • iirc, Chessmen of Mars is written largely from the PoV of the Damsel in Distress (though the male hero still gets large chunks from his own PoV).

              • In the context of a discussion of the dog’s breakfast Lucas made of Star Wards, please refrain from using the phrase “large chunks”.

          • Interesting. I too love Tarzan and never got into Barsoom.

            • My experience as well — I devoured the Tarzan but after the first few Barsoom books I just put one down after reading it and never picked up the next.

              • I liked both Tarzan and Barsoom, but about the third one into the Carson of Venus series, I had RES’s reaction*.

                My favorite work of Burroughs however, was not in one of his series, nor was it science fiction. The Outlaw of Torn was a one off, medieval ‘historical’ novel that borrowed fairly heavy from both Robin Hood and Ivanhoe for themes, but with Burroughs inimitable style.

                I suspect this is because unlike many of his other series, I came at the Carson books as an adult. As a kid I devoured the entire Tarzan series, and later the Barsoom, Pellucidar, and Land that Time Forgot series in a gulp. But as an adult I find I can pick up any particular one book of the series and enjoy it, but as was pointed out, ERB tended to be more than a bit formulaic. Thus I can no longer sit down and read one of his series as a whole, it is too much like reading the same book over and over again, with some minor changes.

          • Burroughs only had about three stories; he just reskinned them and kept selling them over and over.

            Not that it’s necessarily bad, but once you’ve read enough of his stuff you start thinking “wait, didn’t I read this part before?”

      • I haven’t read the books, but I loved the John Carter movie. As you say — it’s sheer fantastical fun, and well made as what it intends to be. It isn’t meant to be deep science; it’s more like every kid’s night-dreams that involve leaping madly about with little effort.

      • I think JCoM gets unfairly tared with the “flop” brush. I’ve seen a lot worse SF movies that did a lot better. “Lucy” springs forcibly to mind.

        As to the non-sciency Science, JCoM is a 1911 book after all, basically original steam-punk from the days of actual steam. Naturally anything like a spacecraft or getting the Science right was completely out of the question. Most of the science hadn’t been invented yet. The closer they stay to the book, the less sciency it is.

        Burroughs got around it by having special materials only found on Mars. No reason why they can’t continue on with that.

      • ” According to family members who love the JCoM series, the film was actually pretty true to its source material.”

        I hate to insult your family, but what is their reading comprehension level? Honestly, without the character names I wouldn’t have recognized the movie as being related.

        “I felt that, while it was light on the ‘science’ part”

        That didn’t bother me, ERB was notably light in the science department himself; in fact one might say he was a founding father of the space opera subgenre.

        • The biggest faults of the movie compared to the novels, as far as I am concerned: the movie John Carter was somebody I felt like slapping, I hated the ‘damaged goods’ approach Stanton took. The novel John Carter seems mostly to enjoy his adventure, he is curious about the new world from the start, gets involved because he is never the passive observer type, he is self-confident to a fault… much more likable character, and what’s more, the reluctant hero has gotten way overused in the last decades, so right now the original version John Carter who was just plain heroic would have been pretty damn welcome at least to me as something different.

          Then the Tharks, who didn’t seem particularly scary in the movie, especially Tars Tarkas felt more like the comic relief than the downright frightening alien warrior I thought he should be (because that is what I remembered from the novels). And the novel’s Tars would never have tolerated the way his daughter was treated – if he had known she was his daughter.

          Dejah Thoris: a conniving runaway bride (not to mention her father, who is willing to sell her to the enemy for the price of peace, unlike her father and grandfather and her whole people who would have fought to the last man to defend her because they were too proud to ever give up to their enemy – okay, she was well loved too, but I always thought it was pride of the nation more than personal feelings towards her), not the selfless noble princess.

          And the love story… I would really, really would have loved to see the novel love story, however cliche that one is: two people meant for each other finally meet, destiny on a big scale, a man who is willing to sacrifice everything for a woman he just met, and the woman turns out to be every bit worth of what he gives. Cliche, but an old cliche, in its pure form it hasn’t been used in ages. While the movie love story is something that has gotten worn with use more recently, and it wasn’t even done particularly well in the movie.

          And last, the planet itself: Barsoom in the novel actually feels alien, and like a whole planet, and you get the feeling any hill might hide a new adventure. The movie Barsoom was slightly disguised Utah, and way too worn. The difference between finding an abandoned huge castle where you can still find a lot of the things the owners of the castle had, several in usable condition, possibly even actual treasure, maybe some bandits living in one tower and the princess they have kidnapped imprisoned in other. The film version is the castle where all that is left are a few stone walls, and maybe a few pieces of broken pottery and one thoroughly rusted and bent sword, and a couple of squatters living in the one part of basement which still hasn’t collapsed. I think Stanton said in some interview that he wanted a documentary feel to the planet, something real. I think he made it too real. Real archeology can be quite interesting, but when it comes to stories and especially movies I’m afraid I will much rather watch the Indiana Jones version of it.

          I admit that the novels can be a bit hard to read as an adult, due to the writing style, and especially if you first encounter them as an adult, but that story, and that world, would have been way more FUN done properly as a film than the film is. The film is watchable, even enjoyable if uneven, but as far as fun goes it’s a pale shadow of the original. It gets there but only in moments, not as a whole.

    • Professor Badness

      As with many “awesome” movies from my childhood, I’ve come to realize that they aren’t as good once we have become jaded adults. To really appreciate Star Wars, I think you need to be a child that can more wholly absorb the world/mythos. Otherwise, it’s just kind of a strange story.

      • Then again, try to imagine growing up with barely B quality SF with cheesy special effects hardly deserving of the name. Then you walk in to this new overly media hyped flick called Star Wars and get totally blown away.
        Sure, we can all pick it apart in retrospect, but I will always remember that first taste of an SF movie with A-list production values.

        • Professor Badness

          True.

        • There’s a recent article about Citizen Kane on PJMedia (can’t find the link) which says something similar. Citizen Kane, like Star Wars, loses a lot to modern audiences seeing it for the first time because the innovations in cinematography that it introduced are now taken for granted. I think the story elements of Star Wars will continue to be relevant for a while, unlike other movies which were blockbusters entirely due to the “Wow!” cinematography (the Matrix and Avatar, for examples).

        • There had been A-list science fiction before Star Wars, but there had never been A-list space opera. There is a difference.

          • Most of the science fiction movies done recently then had been some sort of dour, with a pessimistic attitude. As well as a lot of all the movies then. The first Star Wars was a pure old time adventure and to people who had grown up watching new movies with that more realistic attitude, and maybe old Errol Flynn and co adventure movies which had that fun adventure but didn’t LOOK particularly good compared to the new movies (plus a bit different acting styles and some other conventions of bygone times which could draw enough attention as to be a bit distracting to younger audiences) – well, the combination of modern A-list production values with that old time pure clean fun adventure story was something irresistible.

            Real life can be pretty dour sometimes, and pessimism often seems justifiable. Movies and novels are the places I use to escape that especially in those moments when it starts to feel overwhelming. Then I can come back to it and for a while it’s all easier to handle. So while sometimes a story with a more realistic approach can be interesting and appreciated I NEED the fun stories. And I guess lots of other people need them too.

            (And fun in this case means heroes I can like and plots where the good guys win and win in a way which leaves the reader/audience feeling optimistic that now their future is better than their past was, and they haven’t lost too much in the process of fighting for that win so they can celebrate their victory without reserve, or at least the audience can . All the other elements can be played with, but if you leave those out it can no longer be fun)

        • Birthday girl

          Yes, this was my experience. I was … 17,18? … when SW came out and I remember driving home with the feeling of piloting a fighter … kinda like after skating, your legs still have that skating feeling for awhile, like that. The special effects, however outdated they may be now, did that to me back in 197? … it was a different time …

    • If you’ve never seen Outland give it a try.

  2. It’s funny. I was 19 before I saw the original films. I didn’t care for the later films (haven’t seen one of them, the one in the middle, I think) but my kids adored the animated Clone Wars shows, and my eldest spent a few years seeking out every novelization she could get her hands on. At one point I was keeping a list so I wouldn’t buy a repeat for her (and still did on occasion). I’m most likely not going to see the new one when it comes out. But the way the whole thing has captured the imagination of so many definitely has me interested, to find key pieces I can work with.

  3. The original Star Wars was the first film I remember seeing in the theater (the Black Hole is the second) that wasn’t a cartoon. _Empire_ bothered me a great deal, but then so much of it sailed over my head and only later made sense. _Jedi_ was a good end to the series. The effects were breath taking, the good guys good, the bad guys very bad, and overall the three stories and their plot threads got wrapped up tightly enough to satisfy and loosely enough that kids in the backyard could do “continuing adventures” to our hearts content. I found the novels when I was in grad school and got as far as the Thrawn books. (OK. And I devoured the Rogue Squadron/Wraith Squadron sub-series).

    Then came the new trilogy and Lucas’s comments about the role of the Yuzhon Vong and I quit. He ruined the world I’d built in my mind. The special effects in 1-3 were not bad, but the characters . . . And stealing Col Deering’s costume? Instead of high drama I was laughing so hard I missed most of that scene.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      What did he say about the Vong?

      • Palpatine knew about them, and he set the Jedi up to fail and created the Empire in order to fight them off. He was hardening the Republic/Empire for what was coming (cue “And I’d have succeeded, too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.”). One of the series authors came up with the idea and Lucas decided it sounded good and let them retcon it for the novels. I don’t have the quote at hand or I’d link or quote it.

        • lonejanitor

          So in other words, Thrawn wanted to defend the galaxy from the Vong, and George Lucas decided the Emperor wanted to do it first. Sounds George Lucas, yes. And if you didn’t read the New Jedi Order, you didn’t miss much. Read the entire thing and about ten past it and gave up. Jacen Solo going all Dark Lord made sense-he was selfish enough to protest a war against a genocidal invader, after all, knowing he could kill anything that came after HIM- but by that time, I just couldn’t CARE anymore.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I owe Star Wars for the X-Wing books introducing me to Baen by way of Aaron Allston.

            As for the EU, I got started on it, and Star Wars, in the Young Jedi Knight and Junior Jedi Knight books. Canon under Lucas is dead to me. Disney might be able to make me care again. I dunno, it probably depends on if I have funds to go see it in theaters, and if it is to my taste.

            Until then, Vathara or Eleventh Century Remnant have convinced me that their versions of the universe are satisfying.

    • The first Star Wars film (episode IV) was a really interesting phenomenon in H’wood, not least because NOBODY (including the studio, director, producer, etc.) expected it to be a huge hit.

      When SW was in production I was in High School living in Santa Monica, CA. Across the street from us lived a budding young producer who’d heard about SW through the grape vine. The buzz at the time was “It’s an old-school SciFi adventure film, with a twist. The big difference is that the milieu is lived in: beat-up, run down, dirty, and USED.”

      Our neighbor **really** wanted to visit the special effects team working on the film. He figured out that the sfx team would really want to meet “the father of computer graphics” (a.k.a., my Dad). So he got my Dad’s permission to parlay Dad’s reputation into a visit for himself, my Dad, and me. Dad’s other “payment” for the use of his reputation was that we got our neighbor’s tickets to see SW at the theater belonging to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. No lines to wait in, and the best projection and sound systems in the industry at the time. At the time we made this deal, nobody expected SW to be a huge hit, so we had no idea what a big deal those tickets would be after the movie came out.

      According to our neighbor, the reason he was so eager to visit the sfx team was that he’d heard that they were producing amazing results on a budget that he described as “half a shoe-string.” He really wanted to learn about how they were doing it.

      We spent most of a school-day visiting the sfx guys. They too described the “big difference” from what had been done before as being the “run-down and dirty” look. Absolutely NO ONE claimed that anything about the *story* was special or different.

      There was virtually NO CGI, as that was far too expensive for their budget. Instead, it was almost all old-school model building, etc. They did only one thing that they described as “high tech.” The fly-through of the surface of the Death Star (and the trench) was done by putting a camera on a computer-controlled arm, and moving it (extremely carefully!) past and through a BIG model of the DS surface and trench, doing stop-motion photograpy as they went. In this context, “BIG” means about 15 feet by 40 feet or so. The arm was an industrial robot arm they’d leased for the purpose, controlled by a PDP-11 (also leased). Apparently they were the first in H’wood to use this technique. The precision and flexibility of the computerized arm let them mount a video camera so they could preview the results and tweak the camera motions to the director’s satisfaction — all before shooting even a single frame of actual film. It also meant that late changes to the exact path of the camera required shooting *only* the specific frames that changed. Prior techniques required re-shooting the entire sequence.

      They told us that the model-work for the DS surface was put together out of square modules about one foot on a side, fastened side-by-side on a grid. They had remarkably few different modules — four or five, IIRC (certainly a single-digit number) — and disguised this in part by rotating the modules so they’d be in different orientations to the camera. And yes, the sides of the trench were exactly the same modules, placed vertically. If you look closely, you can see that the trench is exactly one module deep and one module wide. This modular structure mattered because they needed nearly 1000 modules for the DS surface; about 75% in use at any time, the rest as replacement parts when they broke something.

      We also saw some very amusing saved video camera footage in which mistakes in programming the arm caused the camera to run into gun towers. Or the wall of the trench. Or the floor of the trench. Including a few where they said things like (paraphrasing here) “and the point where we lose the video here is where the robot arm destroyed the video camera by shoving it through the 2×6 framing that holds up the bottom corner of the trench.” Oops! Apparently this represented another significant savings: destroying consumer-grade video cameras was WAAAY cheaper than destroying high-end film cameras and lenses.

    • The Vong pretty much killed any interest I had in the EU. Thankfully, Disney made a clean break from the EU.

  4. In the deleted scenes, Biggs and Luke talk about politics more. Biggs warns that when the Empire really moves in, Uncle Owen will become nothing but a tenant. And yes, I liked that Biggs mini-documentary that just came out.

  5. I saw the first Star Wars in an original opening run, just before I left the States for my first overseas assignment. My brother and I went together, and had to wait hours. I went to stand in the line to get in which went around the block in one direction, and he went to get in the line for tickets, which went around the block in the other direction. We had aimed for the early evening showing, but wound up getting in at close to 11PM, and the movie itself was exhilarating! Oh, it was splendid – every souped up adventure cliché you can imagine, and memorable wisecracks. I think I saw the second movie in a bootleg video which someone had smuggled into Japan, nearly four years later, and the third in a military theater a few years after that. Pure adventure, pure escapism, and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.
    And then the first of the prequels … honestly, that’s the only one I bothered with, all this time later. An adventure in glum earnestness, with only one line which could qualify as a wise-crack. I didn’t even muster up the energy to go to the second and third of the prequels.
    Maybe Disney has hired some good writers and done some more systematic world-building. Or maybe not.

    • Topher Grace apparently edited all three prequels into one 85-minute movie, starting with the Duel of the Fates sequence, because that’s all that it really needed. It will probably never see the light of day, but friends of his say it’s excellent. 🙂

      (I maintain that there were rumors of prequels but all I saw were some overwrought special effects shots.)

      • Brings to mind: if (as rumours suggest) Abrams does a Buckley with Jar-Jar, will that justify your admission? How horrible can must it be?

        • The Other Sean

          I’m hoping Jar-Jar makes an appearance in the Star Wars: Rebelsanimated series (like he did in Clone Wars), only to be slain by Darth Vader.

          “You’ve failed me for the last time, Jar-Jar Binks.”

          • Go to YouTube, and look for “The Binks Awakens”.

            😛

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Why would Vader trust Jar-Jar to do any task?

            • The Other Sean

              That depends upon what you need done. He was very helpful to Palpatine in arranging the first legislation that granted Palpatine emergency powers. Surely Vader could use a useful idiot like that for something?

            • Randy Wilde

              It’s not a matter of Vader trusting Jar Jar

              *SPOILER ALERT*
              Jar Jar Binks is actually the TRUE Sith Lord, working behind the scenes. Palpatine and Vader don’t even realize he’s pulling their strings. This won’t be revealed until the end of the first Disney trilogy, tentatively titled “Gungan Triumphant”

              (and if you believe that, I have some nice beachfront property on Alderaan for sale, cheap. only blown up once.)

            • Patrick Chester

              Robot Chicken has a “Darth Vader meets Jar Jar Binks” clip that’s a bit amusing.

              “Ani?!”
              (Can Sith Lords get horribly uncomfortable/embarrassed? Yes, yes they can.)

        • “does a Buckley”?

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Means the same as “red-shirt”. IE kill off Jar-Jar, especially in an imaginative manner.

    • Patrick Chester

      Come to think of it, I don’t believe I’ve actually seen episode III outside of some clips when it’s aired on cable channels for one reason or another. Seen some youtube clips too, like the “this is how liberty dies” bit.

      Oh well.

  6. “Speaking of rebel scum, how are they freedom fighters, instead of terrorists? ”

    False dichotomy. Terrorism is a tactic; freedom fighting is an aim.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Agree.

    • Ok, I’ve seen the prequils, but mercifullly don’t remember much, but from what I recall, don’t the rebels pretty much stick to mikitary or governmental targets?

      That, to my mind, is a distinction; Terrorists target anything they can hit. Geurillas are more selective.

      • Prequil, like Nyquil only for films…. it’ll put you to sleep every time!

        I paid to see _IV_ 33 times in 2 months, first run. _V_, 3 times. _VI_, once. Someone dragged me to III… meh, concentrated on all the wrong things and glossed over the most important moments. Found _I_ unwatchable even as the Phantom Edit, never tried _II_ at all.

      • Yes, but both guerrillas and terrorists can be freedom fighters.

        Of course, most fighters are freedom fighters. You just have to figure out what they want to be free to do.

  7. good morning!

  8. The original movie was great, and mostly without internal contradictions. In its scope, I really didn’t require a lot of explanation of economies or political intrigue; it was easy to tell the bad guys from the good. The only thing good to come out of the prequels was that parody song Weird Al sang to the tune of American Pie.

    Indeed the Jedi Council seems really little different than the Sith Council. Both rigidly hierarchical and absolutist in their judgement. Imagine, you are a colleague in a group of persons known to have the ability to ‘influence the weak minded’, and you never bother to actually check to verify they aren’t using the same Jedi mind trick on you? The Emperor presents Vader with a series of straight out lies, and nothing causes the little banned in the USA 100W incandescent bulb to turn on? Jedi must be very powerful to be so stupid and still alive.

    Admittedly, books have additional depth for the backstory, and most multi-book series do a good job of it. Indeed, many of them are about the backstory, and how alien cultures build their society in ways that are… alien. The Star Wars saga is about the Republic turned Empire turned Republic, and we really never understand either why the Republic failed nor why we want it back.

    • The only thing good to come out of the prequels was that parody song Weird Al sang to the tune of American Pie.

      Bye Bye, Mr Anakin Guy
      May be Vader
      Someday Later
      Now he’s just a small fry..

      *SIGH*

      Now I have to find this on Spotify when I get home and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!!!

      (Thanks)

      • We caught a ride back to Naboo
        ‘Cause Queen Amidala wanted to;
        I frankly would have liked to stay…
        We all fought in that epic war
        And it wasn’t long at all before
        Little Hotshot flew his plane and saved the day….
        And in the end some Gungans died,
        Some ships blew up and some pilots fried;
        A lot of folks were croakin’ —
        The battle droids were broken….
        And the Jedi that I admire most
        Met up with Darth Maul and now he’s toast;
        Well, I’m still here and he’s a ghost —
        I guess… I’ll train… this boy.

        • Randy Wilde

          Sigh. Never even heard of this parody before, and now just reading the lyrics has the song going through my head.

          • It came out shortly before the movie did, because the producers let Al see a screening. It was SO much fun to watch, in those days before the disillusionment set it. (Well, it’s still fun, and you can’t really say that about the movie.)

    • Best parody song of all time. Bar none.

      • The only other contenders also belong to Weird Al.

        • Another fine effort….Sung to McArthur Park

          “Jurassic Park”

          I recall the time they found those fossilized mosquitoes
          And before long, they were cloning DNA
          Now I’m being chased by some irate velociraptors
          Well, believe me… this has been one lousy day

          Jurassic Park is frighting in the dark
          All the dinosaurs are running wild
          Someone shut the fence off in the rain
          I admit it’s kinda eerie
          But this proves my chaos theory
          And I don’t think I’ll be coming back again
          On no

          I cannot approve of this attraction
          ‘Cause getting disemboweled always makes me kinda mad
          A huge tyrannosaurus ate our lawyer
          Well, I suppose that proves… they’re really not all bad

          Jurassic Park is frighting in the dark
          All the dinosaurs are running wild
          Someone let T. Rex out of his pen
          I’m afraid those things’ll harm me
          ‘Cause they sure don’t act like Barney
          And they think that I’m their dinner, not their friend
          Oh no

          Jurassic Park is frighting in the dark
          All the dinosaurs are running wild
          What a crummy weekend this has been
          Well, this sure ain’t no E-ticket
          Think I’ll tell them where to stick it
          ‘Cause I’m never coming back this way again
          Oh no… oh no

  9. The first three movies are genius. The first movie I saw at the theater with my mum (who was an SF geek in the 1940’s) and the first scene with Princess Leia’s ship being pursued by the gigantic Empire battle wagon will stick in my mind forever, even though the retards at the theater didn’t manage to get the damn curtains open right away. (Remember when there were curtains?)

    But of course Lucas isn’t an SF geek. So of course the space craft fly like they’re airplanes. First and ONLY decent SF far-future flick that gets space craft right is Babylon 5.

    But it doesn’t matter, because it was GENIUS the way he did it. Plus, Good Vs. Evil is always a great story.

    Due to these things, we all chose to overlook the bombastic dialogue and terrible character interactions when there’s no shooting going on.

    Now, these most recent three are a different matter. The first two were ok as movies go but really nothing special. The last, “Revenge of the Sith” was SO bad it offended me mightily. I saw it one time in the theater, and while I have seen the other ones on DVD a few times, Revenge I never have.

    If nothing else, Lucas managed to get the worst performance out of Natalie Portman the poor woman has ever produced. Plus Yoda wussing out of a fight? Its flat out bad writing, and nothing can make up for bad writing.

    Lucas hopefully will correct these failings in the coming years. If he doesn’t he will discover that it is entirely possible to kill the golden goose. Just look what happened to Ron Howard with American Graffiti 2.

    • B5 got the science straight because Harlan Ellison was advisor. Don’t like him, but he had the acerb to force it straight.

    • Curt Thomson

      even though the retards at the theater didn’t manage to get the damn curtains open right away
      Classic. Reminds me of the last movie I saw in a theater: Titanic. They had the sound turned up too high and when the ship hit the berg they blew most (if not all) of them out. Because the level had been so high most of the audience didn’t realize it right away because everyone’s ears were ringing. Gradual emptying of the theater. True story.

    • The Other Sean

      Lucas hopefully will correct these failings in the coming years.

      Unlikely, as since the LucasFilm sale he has been increasingly divorced from Star Wars.

      • Likely the best thing to happen to the franchise.

        • That’s what I’m sayin’. There’s hope (faint, but still) that somebody with a clue and some writing talent will pull the thing out of the fire.

          • The ’70s mysticism needs to be amputated. Worshiping someone’s mitochondria? Eww! Somebody needs to put a stake through the heart of the 70s!

            • I remember speaking (on an e-mail list) with a Chinese guy who thought that Americans liked the Midiclorian explanation of the Force. Us Americans quickly disabused him of that notion…

        • If Abrams does half as well with VII as he did with “Into Darkness” it’ll be George who?

        • Note that it’s only been a year or two and Disney has already seen the money light and will be releasing the ORIGINAL versions of the trilogy on Blu-Ray. The only delay has been making sure the whole movie is restored and pretty—apparently some of the negatives were poor quality. (BTW, I don’t mind cleanup—re-blacking and color-correction and removing the “boxes” around the green-screened models. Disney does that well. It’s trying to throw the original cuts down the memory hole that bothered me, plus I liked the “original version” better.)

          • “money” is supposed to have a strikethrough.

          • Back when the shift from LPs to CDs occurred, a lot of musicians remixed or otherwise changed their original albums for the new format, and to match their current ideas of music and mixing, which had often changed from what they were when they made the original albums.

            Yes, I’m looking at you, Alan Parsons. You ruined “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”, and there was no defensible reason for adding gratuitous guitar solos into the middle of “The Fall of the House of Usher…”

            • This also led to some people claiming that CDs were inferior in music quality to LPs. A guy I worked with told me that some CD he had bought (sorry, can’t remember after too many years) was missing several seconds of some single chord that was on the LP version. I could not convince him that it was because they had remixed it.

              • Remixing can indeed be interesting even if they don’t change anything.

                I grew up on the Toscanini/NBCSO Beethoven recordings, in the original mono LP format. Years later I was able to get them, still on LP, but “remastered” for stereo. They are indeed the same recording but some, shall we say, issues?, with the performances became much more obvious. I would swear that the strings and the brass are not in the same tonal system in the last movement of the 7th.

                For that matter, I’ve never quite forgiven un unidentified someone from replacing the Irish “Book of Days” on Enya’s 1991 Shepherd Moon with the English version which was on the CD I replaced the damaged cassette with.

              • You’ll find some musicians of the same opinion. Al De Meola for instance insisted that his guitar sounded, I think he phrased it, “empty” recorded digitally compared to analog. Digital, at least at the time, was incapable of capturing the resonance and overtones. That has improved as sampling rates have increased dramatically since then, but to my ear there is still something lost in translation.

    • Silent Running was pretty good in the science department – we didn’t know the rings are ice not gas when it was made. The forest jettison sequences are some of the best non-cg effects ever, also the pull-away shot showing just how big the ships really are is pretty epic.

      • Yeah, I remember that. It was quite spectacular visually for the time.

      • RealityObserver

        Yup. So was 2001.

        But I think it was said *far* future (too lazy to scroll all the way back there…)

        These two films were, for the most part, known technology at the time the films were made – as in “What if we gave NASA a *really* big budget?”

    • Lucas did not write IV, V, or VI. He did for I, II, and III. We need to keep George away from the script.

    • I got to thinking last night (that or had too much BBQ). I re-watched the “Holy Trilogy” just after I endured I-III. Cliches and rough moments aside, I got so engrossed in _Star Wars_ that I fell over during the closing scene because I’d been sitting motionless for too long. During _Jedi_ I almost missed a tornado warning (and then cussed because I had to stop the movie, hunker down in the closet for fifteen minutes or so, then return to the film.) Part of it was pure nostalgia, but part of it was the way the story in the “Holy Trilogy” pulls me in. Prequels not so much.

  10. The original Star Wars Trilogy was epic in scope, effects and story. I’ve seen elebenty bajillion movies and read twice that many books and I’ve never seen a more classic example of the Hero’s Journey. In response to the questions posed:

    The Rebel Alliance is not a terrorist organization because they are a military force attacking military targets using military tactics. Terrorists very rarely accomplish anything of military value. Seriously. Even the September 11 attacks here did nothing to seize territory or degrade the ability of the US Armed Forces to fight. That’s your difference. Think the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee lost but no sane person would ever consider him to be a terrorist.

    Military coups are only evil if they’re used to overthrow a moral regime. Overthrowing Palpatine and returning the power to the Republic is a valid use of military force IMO. (YMMV) Some regimes deserve to be overthrown. The Egyptian military’s overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood comes to mind as a real world example.

    Jedi Mind Trick: Ok, when you’re right you’re right and I won’t argue. This needs to be killed with fire and nuked from orbit. There is way too much potential for abuse here.

    As far as funding the rebellion: It’s just not part of the story. If someone wants to make a mock-documentary about this aspect of the Rebellion, I’ll watch it. I’d probably enjoy it. It’s just not part of the plot of the movies though.

    • There’s a good bit of information to be gleaned from the Expanded Universe, that as what used to be canon and sorta-kinda still is (the movies are CANON and more or less inviolate. Videogames are Canon, unless contradicted. Books, comics, RPGs are canon unless contradicted. All canon is canon, but some canon is more canon than other canon, and I wish I had a cannon to launch it all from). I’ve got a good friend who did a lot of exploration of same from the vein of an historian, which I’ll be using to expand this series of posts. One of the things of which I’m aware is that Alderaan was (at least through Bail Organa) funneling money to the Rebellion.

      • Professor Badness

        So, where does the radio drama fall in the world of canonical legitimacy?
        Some years back (1981) a Star Wars radio drama was broadcast in SoCal. It was the original three movies, but stretched out into about 13? hours. It added a lot of dialogue, new scenes and character development.
        I enjoyed it, but I’m a huge Star Wars fan, so I’m looking at it through rose colored glasses.

        • It was probably based off of the novel adaptations, which were similar to, but not quite the same as, the movies. The novels appear to have included some material that was later cut, such as the conversation between Luke and Biggs on Tatooine.

          • I think I recall hearing this on AFRS sometime in the early 1980s when I was at EBS-Hellenikon. Can’t recall anything more specific, other than it did expand on the movie with additional scenes and conversation.

      • Disney took an axe to a lot of “canon”. Essentially, if it isn’t the movies, the TV shows, or one of a handful of book Disney has released, it’s part of the “Legends” continuity.

    • Patrick Chester

      Jedi Mind Trick: Ok, when you’re right you’re right and I won’t argue. This needs to be killed with fire and nuked from orbit. There is way too much potential for abuse here.

      …like avoiding docking fees in the first Knights of the Old Repubic games?

      (There’s also a minor sidequest on Coruscant that’s easily solved with the handy [Force Persuade] dialogue option. Even if it is a dirty Jedi trick.)

      • Those Jedi Mind Tricks get truly annoying when they pull them while playing poker. If I hear “This is not the third queen you were looking for” just one more time, somebody’s getting their light saber where the sun don’t shine.

        • Patrick Chester

          Use Dirty Kick on them.

          (It’s an ability the smuggler class gets at lvl 4 in SWTOR. 4 second stun and very silly looking, especially when used on droid enemies.)

          • Silly looking, yes, but there’s something awesome about defeating Sith Lords by kicking them in the nuts. It’s even funnier when you get it as a legacy power for ALL of your characters. My peace-loving, calm, focused Jedi Consular has defeated more than a few enemies that way.

            • Patrick Chester

              That’s the first one I’ve unlocked. Though I don’t have to activate my heroic moment very often so I don’t use it much.

              Though I’m leveling a Jedi Knight so I may deliberately trigger it on some boss fights during that storyline.

  11. The problem with the prequels, as many have noted, is that their worlds don’t make any sense. The first three films didn’t have this problem because their backdrops were a series of cliches. Well done cliches, mind. Lucas was pretty much rotoscoping sections of old films, and did it pretty well. The closest thing the first three films have to a depiction of a society is the cloud city, and it is the weakest of the backgrounds (the Ewok society doesn’t count, it is a “tribe of primitives who become allies, one each”)

    In the prequels, Lucas had to create the society that the Sith were trying to overthrow, and in which the Jedi live. And he doesn’t have the chops. He isn’t an author, he’s a film maker. When he tries to be an author the results are usually pretty shitty. Further, he doesn’t have the background in history and political science to do anything but cliches. He thinks of societies and governments as being pretty much the same thing, and of all governments as Paternal (whether Good Dad or Bad Dad), and has had no reason to ever think “Why would the mass of the citizens of the Republic put up with these Jedi/Sith buttinskis for more than fifteen minutes?” It’s perfectly ok for the Jedi to “influence the weak-minded”; that’s what the benevolent upper class DOES.

    The writing/casting of Vader in the prequels was a tragedy. The transformation of a bright young knight into an evil catspaw of The Big Evil could have been one HELL of a trilogy, even with the social background bitched up. Cast William Dafoe, or someone similar, and work with him, and you are halfway to greatness. The only reason his performance in SPIDERMAN wasn’t hailed as a stunner is that the creators of THAT film covered his face with that stupid mask, when he could have done the Jekyle/Hyde transformation without makeup. The prequels didn’t bring in the mask until the end, which is the right decision, but failed to give us an actor or character that could support the drama.

    Lucas gets a lot of credit for the initial three films, and he should. He gets more for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC. People like to forget he is also responsible for TEMPLE OF DOOM, WILLOW, and HOWARD THE DUCK. He has a narrow talent; he can take old images from past pop-culture and bring them thrillingly to life. He can’t make them make sense if the didn’t in the first place. He doesn’t write, he does images and scenes. When he tries to write, it’s a mess.

    Some years ago I was in an RPG group that was doing a Star Wars campaign as a favor to a decent GM who wanted to be a player, so he could play a Jedi. The guy who was going to GM the campaign came to me and asked me what we could do to screw with the would-be Jedi’s head. I told him that the Light Side/Dark Side dichotomy was a very Western misunderstanding of the Yin/Yang concept, and that wee should introduce a force master who was outside that conflict.

    “There is no light side, there is no dark side, there is performing my techniques properly, as I was a taught by my Sifu”

    The character used a boken, surrounded by the Force, like the hero in DEMON CITY SHINJUKU. It drove the would-be Jedi nuts. He loved it.

    Lukas wouldn’t have had that thought. At what he is good at, he can be wonderful. But there are deeper things on damp pavement. He’s like Blake Edwards; when he’s good, he’s very, VERY good. And when he’s bad he makes DARLING LILI, and when that is received with loud hazaahs he throws a temper tantrum (in Blake’s case S.O.B., a miserable film I love because of Robert Preston as a Hollywood Quack Doctor).

      • That article has since forever flavored my understanding and appreciation of Star Wars. I now understand WHY I love SW and ESB so much, and why RotJ has always been a “lesser” film – too many shortcuts to bring it all to an end in 3.

    • Lucas himself admitted in an interview that it was editing that enjoyed. I’ve seen others comment that the best results come when he has a strong screenwriter and director that can either stand up to him or do it right anyway. Then they can deliver a lot of footage he can edit to his hearts content.

    • Rob Crawford

      “when he could have done the Jekyle/Hyde transformation without makeup”

      James Nesbitt does this — literally — in at least one scene in “Jekyll”. There was a scene that literally took my breath away because he switched characters so perfectly. I tried to find the edit, but it was just how he composed his face, stood, etc.

      Brilliant actor, wasted as Bofur in “The Hobbit”. I hope he gets lots more interesting roles.

      • I recall seeing Joel Grey years ago on the Carson Show (Cavett? Whatever.) turn into the master of ceremonies from Cabaret. The make-up is only necessary for the rubes; he pulled that face on as readily and easily as I pull on a sweater.

        • I recall watching Remo Williams and about 3/4 the way through my dad said “Holy Sh!t, That’s Joel Grey!” His makeup was mostly a bit of eyeliner and a squint, et viola, he was Korean.

    • Right on,

  12. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I read a fair amount of the Expanded Universe books. I quit following canon over the Revenge of the Sith novel.

    The only stuff I’ve read since is fanfic, and that last Wraith Squadron book, which while good itself confirmed my lack of interest in the direction they were taking the EU.

    So I for one welcome our new Disney rebooted Star Wars. At least the property may show up in Kingdom Hearts.

  13. To answer the last question: the rebels aren’t terrorists because as far as I know from the trilogy and the books I’ve read, they’ve never tried to use terror to get the Empire to capitulate to any demands. They’ve never targeted civiians, planted bombs to kill innocents along with valid targets, and they’ve never kidnapped, tortured or publically executed anyone. From what I’ve read in some of the books, they actively disassociated and condemned any person or group that did employ those tactics (not clear if they actively prosecuted rebel war criminals once they’d taken over and restored the Republic post-Empire).

    The Death Star was a weapon specifically built to destroy planets and its first use was against a planet full of Imperial citizens. A hotbed of rebel support, true, but not openly at war with the Empire or attempting to secede.

    One of the things I loved about the OT was how a viewer could infer a lot about the growth of the rebellion by events in the Episode 4. We’ve got the Emperor permanently dissolving the Senate (which hadn’t existed as anything more than a rubber stamp for his decrees anyway at this point) placing large sectors of the Empire entirely under the control of unelected military governors – effectively creating satraps – and backing it up with a terror weapon that can and will be used to slaughter indescriminantly, the seditious and the innocent alike. In effect, open rule by terror.

    And right on the heels of that announcement and the destruction of a major planet…this bunch of ragtag rebels blow up the supposedly invincible weapon.

    Can you imagine the swell of support the rebels must have gotten after that? And having committed to rule-by-terror, the only thing the Empire could do was amp up the oppression and brutality (no more holding Vader’s leash). Viewers could infer that everybody with half an ounce of decency would be supporting the rebels covertly any way they could.

    As for the Jedi mind trick, yeah it’s abused a lot in the books and comics and shows I’ve seen, mainly because the writers want to use it I think, but I will point out that in the original trilogy it’s only rarely used, and only in life-or-death situations.

    One interesting point that’s explored in a few post-Empire books about reforming the order is the Jedi’s status. Are they an arm of the government or are they autonomous? If they’re autonomous then they can’t count on official support, and where do they derive their authority? If they’re an arm of the government, they can’t act in accordance with their conscience/the Force.

    • One interesting point that’s explored in a few post-Empire books about reforming the order is the Jedi’s status. Are they an arm of the government or are they autonomous?

      Papist!!!!!

    • RealityObserver

      That’s what I recalled about the mind trick, too.

      This happens a lot, though – introduce something in one place, for one specific story twist; then the lazy writers that follow you way overuse it.

      (Vulcan neck pinch, anyone? At least they did a better job with the mind-meld bit – made it so that it was a *very* risky thing to do, and thus limited to true emergency situations.)

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        I don’t know about the “risky thing about the mind-meld” but I got the idea that it wasn’t something Vulcans “just wanted to do” because it meant revealing oneself to the person being “melded with”.

        IE when Spock mind-melded with a “bad guy”, he risked revealing his own secrets to the “bad guy”.

        Not something you’d want to do if you have to let the bad guy live afterwards.

  14. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    “I told you the truth from a certain point of view”

    Question, who started the “Lie like a Jedi” idea?

    “Only the Sith believe in Absolutes”

    The “Good” Jedi take very young children from their parents to indoctrinate them into the “Jedi Faith”.

    A “True Jedi” must not fall in love or care about others.

    This is what Luke Skywalker is to recreate?

    • To be fair, a lot of novels – particularly Matthew Stover’s novels – explore the flaws in Jedi philosophy and the need to reform the Jedi as well as recreate them. Stover’s Shatterpoint and Revenge of the Sith novelization do a great job of showing how flaws in the Jedi philosophy contributed to the crisis and often made matters worse.

      Ironic: Luke is the ultimate Jedi, and he would have been kicked out of the Old Republic era Jedi order (doubtful if he’d ever be accepted in the first place).

      • A novelist cannot cont on razzle-dazzle and distraction to distract the reader. A film-maker can much more easily wave his hand and intone “These are not the plot-holes you are looking for” without anyone noticing his grammar.

        The Old Order Jedi would have taken Luke in because his connection to Teh Force was so strong that training and discipline* would have been needed to prevent his damaging Teh Force.

        *Probably involving much use of leather, ball gags and appliances best not discussed here, except to note it would require an entirely different plot for The Jedi Strike back.

    • And honestly, I expect the “Chosen One brings balance to the Force” nonsense should really be read as, wiped out the old orders so Luke (who has a certain legitimacy as a “trained Jedi,” regardless of how true that may be) can build a new Jedi Order that actually does some good in the galaxy.

      • anachronda

        Yeah, well, the whole “brings balance to the force” thing was silly anyway.

        You’re in a universe full of Jedi with no known Sith; clearly the Force is unbalanced in a direction favorable to the Jedi. Restoring the balance can be done in one of two ways: A) Destroy the Jedi or II) Train up a metric buttload (as opposed to an ANSI buttload) of Sith.

        Why are the Jedi looking forward to the Chosen One again?

        • The Jedi are looking for The Chosen one because they are so incredibly lame that one Sith and his apprentice is all it takes to destroy the balance.

        • Joe in PNG

          For Sith, you got to remember the Rule of Two*. The more Sith, the less powerful they are, as the Dark Side works best when concentrated in one or two powerful individuals. The Sith tried large numbers of dark siders before, and were inevitably defeated by the Jedi, who are better at unifying.
          The downfall of Darth Sidious came from his leaving the shadows and setting himself up as Emperor.

          *one of my favorite EU novels

          • If that is so, why is Darth Vader always offering us cookies and bacon to ‘come to the Dark side’?

            • Joe in PNG

              Because bacon! And Cookies!!!

            • Because that was before that phenomenally stupid notion had been thought of?

              “The more Sith, the less powerful they are”, when the Force is a field generated by all living things? How friggin’ weak must the individual contributions to the field be, for it to matter how many people are using it, as long as that number is smaller than billions?

              • Joe in PNG

                The Dark Side is an individualistic philosophy-the end goal of the Sith is basically to get all the power for oneself, to become as powerful as is possible. If you have a multitude of dark lords of equal power, they will work against each other. If you have a single strong dark lord with multiple followers, the weaker underlings will unite to overthrow the stronger, and thus the weaker will survive. Thus Darth Bane’s rule of two: “Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody power, the other to crave it.”

        • Rob Crawford

          “Why are the Jedi looking forward to the Chosen One again?”

          Because he’s French and defeated the cow?

    • In the novels there’s a number of Jedi who do marry and have families. There are mentions of a difference between Corellian Jedi and those from Coruscant in that sense.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        The novels apparently are no longer canon. [Frown]

        • Professor Badness

          I’m not sure they ever were.

          • They sort of were. Lucas supposedly reviewed all of them for lore stuff. And this was true at least initially (Zahn originally wanted to call the ‘Nogri’ the ‘Sith’, as that term hadn’t been explained at that time, but Lucas shot the idea down). But I suspect later on he more or less let those duties slide.

            West End Games is probably more responsible than anyone else for assembling a working framework for the EU. When they created the original Star Wars RPG (using their d6 system), they went through the various bits of concept artwork, and pulled out what was needed to create a working, breathing universe. Zahn once stated that when he was hired to write the first EU novel, the background provided was the West End RPG books, which were shipped to him so he could study them.

          • The very first of them had characters named “See-Threepio” and “Artoo-Detoo.” I skipped my way through the first couple, but I couldn’t make it past that.

      • I remember reading one of the comics at a friend’s house and the story stops to visit a Jedi family. Then there was Leia’s children, and Luke and Mara’s Ben Skywalker. And Tenel Ka. And more.

        So when the whole ‘cannot love’ thing came up it broke my sense of what Jedi tapped into, because if the Force came from living things, why did loving, and procreating, and having a desire to protect = the Dark Side?

    • In the novels, Luke gets married. So he clearly has no interest in recreating the “Jedi must not fall in love” restriction. Though it’s also likely that he was unaware of the restriction, since Lucas hadn’t revealed it to anyone until well after Luke was married. Luke can’t know what his authors don’t know, after all.

      Lucas himself was reportedly rather irritated when he discovered that Luke had gotten hitched. He later claimed that he didn’t pay enough attention when the book in question (by Timothy Zahn, who’s the best of the EU authors) came through for its required lore review.

      • I am fond of Timothy Zahn’s non-EU works. His EU books are the best of a dreary lot of derivative writing. (No, I don’t particulary like this sub-genre.)

      • I didn’t particularly like the Jedi as monks idea so I am very much for the Luke got married story line (I did read Zahn’s trilogy and scattered other novels, maybe five or so, after that, but didn’t like any of them enough to read many, but I have had the tendency to look at articles about the EU plots and large arches). Besides I was always rather pissed over the fact that the first film seemed to foreshadow rather strongly for a Luke/Leia romance which then got scrapped, possibly because the audience liked Han better.

        So I guess I always wanted for Luke to find somebody, leaving him alone felt, I don’t know, maybe kind of cheating story wise. The hero should not become the loser in romance. Trying to patch that with “she is actually his sister” didn’t really help all that much, especially since it didn’t seem to fit what had been hinted in the beginning (and made that kiss into something more or less creepy too).

        I always thought they should have introduced some rebel alliance girl in Return, maybe just a side character in the party which first lands on the moon to sabotage the Empire station, given her and Luke a few scenes together and then hinted that her and Luke had the eye for each other in the last scenes. Besides it would have wiped any ideas that maybe he was still pining for sis…

        • I think the most entertaining EU novel I read is The Courtship of Princess Leia.

        • A rebel alliance girl would never have told Luke, by way of endearment, that she’s glad she didn’t kill him.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Luke never doubted her love because when they met she wanted to kill him. [Smile]

          • Heh. No, but at that point the movies were all I knew about.

            • And I have never read any of the novels where Mara Jade (?) appears except for the Zahn trilogy, so when I fantasize what I would have preferred for the story I stick to my original idea. 🙂

              • Yup. Mara Jade, agent of the Emperor, sent to kill Luke Skywalker and changing her mind.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  To be fair, Mara was also up against a compulsion spell of the Emperor. She didn’t like Luke at first but some of the desire to kill Luke was because of the Emperor’s spell.

                  Mind you, the last “mental message” from the Emperor was a lie. She thought Vader and Luke had attacked the Emperor together not that the Emperor was killing Luke when Vader attacked the Emperor.

        • snelson134

          You needed to read the first Star Wars spinoff novel, Alan Dean Foster’s “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye”. Let’s just say Luke’s feelings for Leia would have been appropriate only if she was his sister in Lazarus Long’s family. Lucas threw that one out of the canon as soon as he heard about it (IIRC, it was between Eps 4 and 5).

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Just had to say this: “Han Shot First”!!!!

      Got it out of my system. [Wink]

  15. MadRocketSci

    About the prequels (which I never liked enough to pay much attention to), and the rise of the Empire:

    At the end of the third movie, Padme dies in a fully kitted surgery with medical robots designed for the purpose because they were too inept to perform a C-section.

    On the other hand, Darth Vader got a full cyborg body reconstruction after being half immolated in lava.

    That right there is why the Republic died and the Empire grew to take it’s place: Competence vs. incompetence. 😛 And there’s the anti-moral of the anti-story.

    • MadRocketSci

      Join the Dark Side. Our medical insurance covers quite a bit more. 😛

    • The movie wasn’t clear on the topic, but I’d assumed that Padme’s death was partially due to a mental/spiritual connection with Vader. That she was in effect sharing his agony along with hers, or that they were sharing each other’s pain and despair. Or it could have been just the editing.

      • A pain so intense the entire audience felt it. For different reasons.

        As if a million desperate fans suddenly cried out and then were silenced.

    • The Other Sean

      As far as I can tell, Padme died because she’d lost the will to live, knowing that Anakin had turned to the Dark Side. Which is totally lame.

      • MadRocketSci

        Join the Dark Side! We can fix your “will to live” problem, one way or the other … >:)

      • Especially with babies at hand. To quote the essay I linked:

        ” Women do die in childbirth sometimes, even with advanced medicine, and it is at least debatable that some women die of broken hearts; but never the two in combination. The presence of a newborn child concentrates the instincts and the affections wonderfully; it gives the most broken-hearted mother something to live for.”

        • Let’s face it, Padme died because it was dramatically necessary to the story being told, and the storyteller lacked the skill to tell a story that hung together.

          Lucas is a great copier, lousy writer.

          Disney has a bunch of decent storytellers working for them. Oh, the Fairytale worlds don’t actually make any goddamned SENSE, but they work emotionally and the wake-up when the film is over isn’t so jarring you can’t watch it again. Maybe we’ll get luck.

          Or maybe we won’t. I’m OK with only watching the first three films. I’ve never read any sequels to DUNE, and based on what people have told be (“You really have to read the second book, so you can read the third”) I’m never going to. I usually omit the story “The Spring Running” when I read THE JUNGLE BOOKS. I don’t HAVE to torture myself with the lesser works of somebody who did something I love.

          • Padme died because… Anakin had been continuously mind-controlling her, ever since he met up with her again. Resisting him basically took all the resources she had, of both mind and body, and then she went and had a difficult birth of Force-sensitive twins on top of that.

            And Luke and Leia probably didn’t recognize their Force powers until very late, because the psychic trauma from their mother’s death and father’s killing rage (plus Obi Wan probably broadcasting) sealed off their Force sensitivity for a long, long time to come.

            • And yeah, I don’t think Padme was a cougar by nature, and yeah, all those weird clothes she was wearing, when she almost never changed clothes in Senator mode? Clear evidence of mind control, if not drugs.

            • (Shakes head) No, no, you have the mind controller all wrong. Anakin doesn’t have the guile to pull that off. It was Palpatine the whole time.

              • Hey, that might have worked too! If it had been there, and had been shown.

                Or maybe Anakin turns in despair when he finally figures out that Padme never really loved her, only Palpatine at that moment manages to get a hold of his mind and plants the thought that he was doing the controlling himself, unconsciously. And Palpatine also kills Padme who is struggling for her life by giving her bit of helping hand in the wrong direction, but the jedis manage to hide the fact that the children – and that there were two – survived from him. 😀

          • “Let’s face it, Padme died because it was dramatically necessary to the story being told, and the storyteller lacked the skill to tell a story that hung together.”

            Well, she didn’t have to die like that. Tom Simon then went on to brainstorm a better death, and concluded that the best one he could think of in that session was that Padme went to confront the Emperor, to kill him or to die herself, either way ensuring that her children were safe.

            • Which would explain why Leia had some memory of her mother, which she shouldn’t have had if she’d died in childbirth.

              • Yes. The fact that Luke and Leia know about Leia’s “real mother” in RotJ is a direct contradiction of the “death in childbirth” scene in RotS.

                In fact, keeping her alive at the end would have been delicious irony. Anakin goes bad to keep Padme alive… but she won’t have anything to do with him because of what he’s become as a result.

                • anachronda

                  Yeah, well here’s another one that bugged me.

                  Episode IV:
                  Luke: “It’s this droid. It’s looking for its former owner, but I’ve never seen such devotion in a droid before.”
                  Obi-Wan: “Hmm. I don’t recall ever owning a droid.”

                  After the prequels, clearly should have been:
                  Luke: “It’s this droid. It’s looking for its former owner, but I’ve never seen such devotion in a droid before.”
                  Obi-Wan: “Ah. R2-D2. We meet again.”

                  • Eh, that one’s easy enough. Obi-Wan was established as a liar before the prequels ever came out.

                    I actually — dare I say it here — enjoyed them. I actually found Anakin’s arc believable… it looked like he basically had Palpatine playing the indulgent grandparent/noncustodial parent at all the worst times during his adolescence, and the Jedi being clueless about how to handle someone whose emotional framework hadn’t been molded by their training. But Padme’s death was still stupid.

                    • iirc, technically Obi-Wan never owned R2. He belonged to Padme.

                    • Randy Wilde

                      Didn’t Obi-Wan usually use an R4 droid during the prequels, when he needed an astromech?

                      He might remember Anakin and Padme having an R2 unit, but that specific one? That would be like remembering the license plate number to your kid brother’s car from 20 years ago.

                  • Joe in PNG

                    There’s a great fan theory out there that R2 and Chewbacca were top agents of the Rebellion, and that Ben was keeping R2’s cover intact.

                    • The Other Sean

                      On R2D2 as a possible Rebel operative, I direct you to the Star Wars: Rebels episode “Droids in Distress.” As for Chewie, it could be. He fought beside Jedi on at least two occasions during the Clone Wars, and two of those Jedi survived are known to have survived into the age of the Rebellion.

                  • The Other Sean

                    Well, R2 was either originally Padme’s though she may have given him to Anakin. And I would guess the R4 aboard his fighter at the opening of Revenge of the Sith was property of the Republic. So what he said was true, from a certain point of view.

            • That would require Padme to have moral agency and be capable of mature thought — something which Lucas (as a Liberal) is incapable of conceiving.

          • Randy Wilde

            Padme died because it was another box Lucas had to check off in the last prequel movie.

            • But it wasn’t — he’d implied in RotJ that she lived long enough for Leia to remember her.

              • Randy Wilde

                The checkbox was just that she had to die. Dying in childbirth was just a fast way to do it if they were going to show Luke and Leia being born as twins anyway.

                The whole 3rd movie struck me as just a list of boxes Lucas wanted to check off. And since there were a lot of boxes, they had to be done quickly.

      • Yeah, hence my discontent.

        Padme started as an ass kicking politician/kung fu fighter who ruled a planet and took out a wild beast in the Arena. With her hands tied. Then in Episode III she’s this wilting flower who lets her boyfriend beat her up and dies of a broken heart?

        Gee, did we miss something? No we didn’t, they just suck at writing. How many years is this now? and it still bugs me.

        • The Other Sean

          Perhaps it was really bad case of hormonal instability due to pregnancy? Plus Jedi mind tricks?

          • Heh. They could have indicated that Padme’s change was also because Palpatine had gotten a hold of her mind. What better way to twist Anakin’s mind than to play with that of his wife? If he had started to feel he couldn’t trust her either…

    • You’ve hit on what to me was the most unbelievable part of the pre-quels:

      1. Anikin is turned by manipulation of fears his wife will die in childbirth in a more medically accomplished world than the modern US where it is pretty damned rare.

      2. Padme dies in childbirth because, quoting the movie, “she has nothing to live for”. Too bad she didn’t have, I don’t know, twins or somethings during said childbirth that might have given her reason to live.

      • The Other Sean

        Exactly. That’s the part of the movie that least works for me. I can understand why Anakin would have a great fear of loss, but it seemed ridiculous. And then Padme suddenly losing the will to live and dying like that was silly.

      • Would have worked to have her die from a broken heart and the twins be from the womb untimely ript, as I thought was going to happen (Padme’s death was necessary). Could have even thrown in a further nod to the bard and had a prophesy that no man of woman born could turn Anakin from the dark side once he took that path.

        • The Other Sean

          Wouldn’t have been funny if they had erupted from her belly like in Alien?

      • Everyone’s seen Mr. Plinkett’s review of the Star Wars prequels, right?

    • “At the end of the third movie, Padme dies in a fully kitted surgery with medical robots designed for the purpose because they were too inept to perform a C-section.”

      I saw a fan retcon that would have made it so much better, and all you have to do is remove any hints of “lost the will to live.” The idea was that the Emperor used her connection with Vader to siphon off her life force—to keep Vader alive. That’s why the Emperor knows she’s dead; he killed her. Because that’s how you can use the Force to save a life (like he hinted earlier in the prequels.)

      Also, Leia is remembering her stepmother, though she doesn’t know that.

  16. I have been re-reading Good Omens (thanks, Audible) and I believe I’ve identified the author of the Star Wars storyniverse. It reads suspiciously like one of the weaker efforts of Adam Young, except there are not any dinosaurs.

  17. Let’s get this straight – just like there was only one Highlander movie (There can be only one!), there were only three Star Wars movies. They are episodes 4, 5 and 6. There are no other episodes. There may soon be an episode 7, but time will tell if that actually happens or not.

    • I really, REALLY felt sorry for the people who made HIGHLANDER. Thery made what they thought would be a one-off and discovered they had a bankable franchise, except they’d filmed the obvious climax of they series FIRST.

      Doesn’t excuse them from making all those awful attempt to cash in.

      • Agreed — the simplest thing would have been to go back and follow the story from its beginning, possibly through the lens of the life of Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez. Maybe George Lazenby or Timothy Dalton would have been available for the role, given that Connery likely would have been too expensive.

        They could have explored how he acquired that accent, for one thing.

      • I used to watch the TV spinoff, HIGHLANDER:RAVEN just to figure out where she was hiding that damned hand-and-a-half…

        • She hid it where people always hide such things in TV-World: Off-camera.

          Off-camera is an amazing dimension where artifacts can be stashed, people can travel half-way ’round the world and significant plot-points processed, all without the notice of anybody on-camera.

      • The Highlander tv series was good.

    • I thought the next one was 7, but now they are saying it’s a “stand-alone anthology film,” and they’ve fired the director. But what do I know, I only saw “Star Wars” once, a video at a con, and I didn’t care for it.

      • It isn’t to everybody’s taste. I happen to like it. I also happen to loath any number of shows that I am assured I MUST like, because I like SF.

        X-FILES made me giggle, for as much of it as I could muster the interest to watch. I read Robert Anton Wilson’s ILLUMINATUS and SHRODINGER’S CAT trilogies years before X-FILES hit the small screen, and consequently conspiracy narratives tend to strike me as more ridiculous than suspenseful.

        Anyway; stick to your guns. If STAR WARS isn’t to your taste, maybe something that is will come along. Hollywood is doing a lot of SF these days, largely (I suspect) because they have the SFX to pull it off, and haven’t run allots tropes into the ground (like they have, for example, Noir).

      • There have been two announced films. One is episode 7, and the other is the stand-alone film describing how the Death Star plans were acquired. The director of the latter is the director that is no longer with the project.

        Episode 7 will almost certainly be released first. I don’t know if the other film even has an announced release date yet.

        • lonejanitor

          Would be nice if they used the novel where the Death Star plans were stolen as a base. Somehow, I don’t think they will, though.

          • The theft of the Death Star plans has also been the subject of two video games – Dark Forces (the very first level of the game has Kyle Katarn steal the plans) and X-Wing (not the theft of the plans so much as attempting to make sure that the plans stayed in Rebel hands until they could be gotten to safety).

            Amusingly, one of the expansions for TIE Fighter had a “Death Star plans theft” mission from the opposite side. The Bothans have stolen the plans for the second Death Star from the Empire, and the Emperor wants to make sure that they get away safely. But to make the escape convincing, it has to be a close thing. And there are Rebels coming to assist the Bothans, who are fair game…

            • Every time I see some “weird” building code thing where you get into the history and find out the tragedy that precipitated that particular change, I think, “Many Bothans died to bring us this information.”

              It doesn’t make the Royal Albert Hall tragedy any more palatable, but it’s what my mind does.

            • Rob Crawford

              On the new version of the “Star Tours” ride, one of the riders is identified as a Rebel spy. Not sure if they say the spy has the Death Star plans, but consider — if each ride vehicle runs 100 times each day, and there are six vehicles (there might be eight), then since the ride opened in 2011 there have been over 876,000 Rebel spies found at Disneyworld alone…

              Throw in Disneyland and Tokyo Disney and that’s over 2,000,000 from just our one planet.

              The Rebels had spies to burn!

    • Professor Badness

      This is also what I do. I also only believe in the first two Aliens movies.

      • Then there are the LOTR movies. And The Hobbit.

        Never before have such imaginative stories been told so lavishly with such fabulous cinematography, such ethereal sound tracks, and ruined so utterly.

        I blame Sauron.

        Clearly, he still lives.

        His minion Peter Jackson needs to spend at least an age or two in Barad-dur.

        • Speaking of the Lord of the Rings movies…

          One of the interesting bits in the new Avengers movie is actually seeing Andy Serkis. AFAIK, all of his roles in big movies to date have been for mo-cap purposes only. I think this is the first time I’ve actually seen Andy Serkis on-screen, and not replaced by a CGI mo-cap “thing”.

          • Joe in PNG

            He did appear in the opening scene of “Return of the King” as himself, mostly (in hobbit makeup).

          • Rob Crawford

            He had a role in the British TV detective series “Touching Evil”.

        • Haven’t seen the Hobbit films, yet, although the indications aren’t that good. The LOTR films were better than we had any right to expect. The books, as written, are unfilmable. They also have no character development for anyone other than Merry and Pippin. I do wish the Jackson didn’t hate The Scouring of the Shire, and had filmed it. But I think that the LOTR films are as good an adaptation of a three volume epic as is likely to be done anytime soon.

          I agree with you that the book is better. It almost always is (the only exception I can think of being BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS)

          • I’ve never seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and I think I had it read to me, before I was old enough to read myself, so I really don’t recall that much about it. But the title stuck with me all these years, as something I kind of liked at the time.

        • I did see the LOTR movies. I thought Jackson put in most of the parts that made Tolkien’s story good (as well as a few stinkers of his own devising) and left out all most of the ones that made it great.

          Then I saw the first “Hobbit” movie. And the second. He took a great story, disemboweled it, and stuffed the corpse with every Hollywood action movie cliche he could think of. I fervently hope never to see the third.

          • Don’t bother. It’s a two hour and thirty minute long action sequence.

            • And the tone is that of Silmarillion, lots of epic angst and stuff, not that of the Hobbit.

              I do like the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, but it may be a combination of very low expectations (most film adaptations are more a case of “inspired by” than telling the original story… even the very good as themselves ones can disappoint because of that when you like the original so seeing something that was recognizably the original story if changed here and there was a nice surprise) and gorgeous look.

              • snelson134

                The problem is that they pulled “Lord of the Rings” material written for adults into a story basically written for kids. Tolkien kept the two separate.

      • Terry Pratchett only wrote three Tiffany Aching books.

      • Aliens 4 was fun in retrospect when you realize you’re watching the first iteration of Whedon;s characters for “Firefly” and “Serenity”

  18. Randy Wilde

    Back in MY day, we had to put our Legos together barefoot

    Mentioning Legos and barefoot in the same sentence brings back painful memories. Literally painful.

    • RealityObserver

      Youngest of four, only boy in the generation. Also exactly the right age when they came over from Denmark.

      My father always said the one good thing about Legos is that they didn’t hurt *nearly* so much as jacks…

      (Side note – I think the main reason that I adapted so well to the early video games was that my imagination had *always* been in rather large square blocks.)

  19. What about the Luke Skywalker guy? Celebrated Hero, or mass murderer? How many lives must have been snuffed out when he destroyed the Peace Star?
    —————–

    The “future” episode of ‘News Radio’ had fun with this. “Our hearts go out to…”

    • That’s amateur history rewriting:

      The plans to the Death Star were not stolen to find a weakness to destroy it, but to steal it. Skywalker and his Rebel fighting force found a weakness in the defenses and invaded the Death Star, taking the entire contingent by surprise, because of their belief that it was invulnerable. Next, they killed everyone aboard by taking over the control center, then opening the rest of the station to space, then proceeded to Alderaan and destroyed it, because it was about to switch sides and join the Empire.

      Later, a small contingent who had escaped the Death Star before they could be killed, lead by heroic Darth Vader, re-invaded the Death Star and, knowing they could not re-take the control room, destroyed the Death Star before it could return to the Rebel base to become a terror weapon for the Rebels.

      • Professor Badness

        There was an awesome Star Wars Elseworlds comic where Vader shot down Luke at the first Death Star, which then went on to destroy the “secret rebel base”.
        Vader realizes what he has done, adopts an all white costume and joins the rebellion against the Empire.
        It’s a pretty cool visual, if nothing else.

      • Scrap off the serial numbers, that would be a good story.

  20. I’ll give the franchise this: the EU novels provided talented writers with a great opportunity to get attention to their other work. Who wouldn’t want to write a Star Wars novel if given the chance?

  21. I’m surprised no one mentioned Mr. Plicketts prequels review.
    Warning. Very profane and just wrong, but also has some interesting insights and thoughts on good story telling.
    http://redlettermedia.com/plinkett/star-wars/star-wars-episode-1-the-phantom-menace/
    I like the revenge of the sith one best because it has a good explanation of what when wrong.

    Spoiler
    The short version is Lucas is very good in a collaboration with other people as forceful as himself. If he has complete control he gets lazy and relies too much on spectacle instead of story. Also he might have been a great silent movie director because his dialog is bad.

    The best lines were off the cuff improves from the actors. (I love you. I know)
    Alec Guinness said “new rubbish dialogue reaches me every other day on wadges of pink paper”

    He also suggested to Lucas a dead Obi-Wan would be an even larger figure.
    “What I didn’t tell Lucas was that I just couldn’t go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines. I’d had enough of the mumbo jumbo.”

  22. Professor Badness

    There was a Star Wars short story comic series, (who’s name escapes me at the moment) that featured a conversation between Mace Windu and Yoda. The wizened little master explains that the force isn’t balanced since the Jedi outnumbered the Sith. He felt that the end result would be two sith and two jedi, and he planned to be one of those jedi.
    Now, the stories in this comic were not meant to be canon, but it got me thinking about the Jedi and why they actually do what they do. I came to the conclusion that the Jedi order was evil and needed to be destroyed.
    Forcing a monastic life on anyone is going to end in tears. It may work with an individual, depending on temperament, but wholesale? I don’t think so.
    They never do discuss good and evil, but only light and dark in terms of emotions. I’m sure plenty of evil people throughout history have committed atrocities with a song of joy and love in their hearts.
    My Jedi is the BAMF that Skywalker has become in RotJ. Mind influencing, force choking, Ewok convincing, Father redeeming SOB that he is.
    Gray Jedi FTW.

  23. My thoughts and feelings on Star Wars are a little complex…

    When I first saw the movie, I was a kid in rural Oregon who was desperately in love with science fiction and fantasy. When it came out, I was around 10, and had been reading every SF and fantasy work I could get my hands on. I think by that time, I’d already read Lord of the Rings about six times, Dune maybe a dozen. The local libraries didn’t have much SF or fantasy, and the bookstores were non-existent. We had one little game store that we got to visit, but there wasn’t a damn person besides me around who wanted to play any of them. You could say I was one frustrated little proto-geek, and be perfectly right about it.

    When Star Wars came out, I dragged my Mom up to Portland, who was only a couple of months shy of having my youngest brother. I just now realized that, and what a spectacular pain in the ass waiting in line had to be. I need to thank her for that…

    Watching the movie was magical. Literally. I loved every second of it, and left it with the same feeling I had for The Fellowship of the Ring: I’d have happily sold souls for the ability to see more of the same. I spent a lot of time trying to recreate that feeling of magic with other stuff, but nothing quite had “it”, so I wound up doing what I now recognize as horribly bad fanfiction, which itself has sort of morphed into something that is so far removed from Star Wars that it’s not even funny, although it was originally inspired by it. One of these days, I may manage to put some of it down on paper or electrons to share.

    So, that was then; this is now. I recently re-watched Star Wars. I’ve got 40 years more perspective, and a lot more discernment to bring to bear, and I have to tell you, the visual filmmaking still blows me away. The rest of it? Oh. My. God…

    Ever find yourself wishing you had a time machine, in order to go back and offer your younger self some advice about what’s really worth getting into, vs. what isn’t? Yeah…

    Star Wars world creation is visually wonderful, and about as carefully thought-out story-wise as an episode of some Ed Woods productions. The plotting and so forth? Almost worse. You can see the joints where it was all nailed together, and now that I’ve got the perspective of having seen where Lucas got his ideas, I’m kind of horrified that I ever thought highly of this derivative piece of shit. Watch Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, along with Dam Busters, and tell me if you think Star Wars wasn’t very half-assed and totally derivative of these works and others…

    It’s sad that I can now see where virtually every single moment of that movie series is cliche. Seeing it for the first time as a child? Magic… Re-watch, as an adult with a more refined palate? Yikes… It’s painful to watch. I know now why Alec Guinness was so set on dying in the first film, something I didn’t understand back when. Star Wars is SF pablum, stolen from far better source material and homogenized into some kind of commodity product abortion, and then sold mostly by marketing. Kurosawa was a fine Japanese gourmet meal, and Star Wars was that same meal packaged up and sold by Chung-King. I remember watching the Star Wars Christmas Special, back in the day, and thinking “Man, this is… Awful… How could they do this?”. Now, I’ve kind of got that same sickened feeling about the whole series.

    As SF, Star Wars sucks. As a Space Opera, it’s hackneyed crap. I can think of a dozen more carefully and consistently plotted stories, far more deserving of being put to film. What Lucas did with Star Wars was to file the serial numbers off of a dozen far better sources, and then reuse them to commit storytelling crime while producing cinema wonder. Absent the work of the effects artists, and all the visual art people that worked on this film series, you’d have had a work that probably would have gotten a single edition in print, and no sequels. The writer would probably have managed that one sale, and any of the publishers would have told him “Sorry, kid… You just don’t have it.”. And, they’d have been right: George Lucas has talent, but it isn’t storytelling or writing. Call it “Visual creation”, and you’d have what he’s good at. The rest of it? Dreck, purest, unadulterated dreck.

    It’s kind of odd, though, when you compare/contrast Star Wars with the other great triumph of my lifetime in filmmaking: The Lord of the Rings. Here again, you have a trilogy of wonder: Outstanding first movie, somewhat lesser second, and a conclusion that was workmanlike, but still kicked some ass.

    Then, both series went into prequels: I went into the first prequel of both with enthusiasm, and was kind of “Meh…”. Second prequel? Both of the series, didn’t bother to see it in the theater. Third? Didn’t bother to see, at all. Still haven’t. Probably won’t, unless someone kidnaps me, drugs me, and forces me to watch while restrained from slashing my wrists…

    I don’t know how the hell they managed it, but Lucas and Jackson both followed the same sequence: Lighting in a bottle for the first film, followed by gradual decline into utter crap I can’t even watch. For Lucas, it was almost pre-ordained. For Jackson? I don’t understand it, at all. He probably should have been stopped, once someone convinced him that three movies could be squeezed out of The Hobbit. It’s too damn bad nobody had the good sense to do so…

    • The Other Sean

      Considering that the original Star Wars is essentially a Space Opera’d retelling of a little bit of American Graffiti and a lot of The Hidden Fortress followed by The Dam Busters it is not to surprising it looks nailed together. However, the original sticks together moderately well, since not too much of the world-building or backstory is really critical – it is mostly unimportant background. As more movies got made, however…

    • I’m a little older than you but has the same sort of feeling when I saw the first Star Wars. Absolutely blown away and for many of the same reasons.

      And it is very difficult to explain to my kids what it was like to have absolute pandemonium break out in a packed theater at the revelation that DARTH VADER was Luke’s FATHER !!!1!11!!!! WHAT! Back in the day NO ONE knew what was going to happen in a movie opening night.

      I was really hoping for the same from the LOTR and the first movie really showed promise. My hopes were completely dashed for the second.

      The Hobbit movies…………What the H. E. Double Toothpicks!!???!!!

      • Yeah… I left The Fellowship of the Ring wondering who to approach with an offer for someone’s soul so I could see the rest of the series that night. I’d have sat through them, back-to-back, too. The Two Towers? Kinda “Meh… This isn’t as good as I remember it…”. Return of the King? Little better, bit too heavy a reliance on the effects.

        Dear God… Got to the Hobbit, and I’m walking out of the theater feeling the same way I did after watching The Phantom Menace: Raped in the anticipatory feels… I really can’t even, when it comes to those three movies, in both series. Horrible, and on so many levels. Jackson turned heroic dwarves into bumbling jokes, shoehorned in a love story that makes no damn sense, and… On and on and on and on… With Lucas, the prequels are epitomized by one character: Jar Jar Binks. Need I say more? And, seeing Darth Vader as this perfect little Mary Sue kidlet? Oh, yeah… Utterly believable, that was. Ultimate pod racer? Err… When the hell was that even established as a thing, let alone the center of Tatooine’s recreational prospects? If you’re going to do that, why not have made him some preternaturally good womp rat hunter, or something?

        • The Other Sean

          The Hobbit is best when watching on a long airplane flight after you’ve finished your dead tree books and your Nook has run out of power and you didn’t remember to load anything onto the cell phone.

          • Rob Crawford

            I kinda liked them. The way I see it, if Shakespeare can be twisted all the various ways his works have, if “Casablanca” can be retold as “Barb Wire”, then Jackson can do his interpretation of Tolkien. Tolkien was writing myths, after all.

        • Some day, some where, there will be a movie made by a talented filmmaker with unlimited funds and a cinematic genius who really and truly loves the source material with the fervor of a true fan.

          Today is not that day.

          Heck the story may not even be written yet so get scribbling you guys and gals.

          Hopes springs eternal…

          • I loved all three of Jackson’s movies. I couldn’t get into LOTR until I saw the movies. The only thing I was pissed about was his leaving out the scouring of the Shire.

            • Weird. I always thought the Cleansing of the Shire was the worst part of the books. The plot was finished at that point. There was no need to continue the story. There were a lot of others with the same reaction and I guess I just don’t get it.

        • Rob Crawford

          I’ve been re-reading Tolkien lately, and:

          1) The voices of the characters in the Hobbit are still from the Rankin-Bass version. As cheesy as that was, Richard Boone *WAS* Smaug. Frankly, I think Jackson tried to mix Cucumberpatch’s voice to get as close as possible to Boone’s, then threw in a little reverb.

          2) The LoTR characters are, mostly, from the Jackson film versions. Which is odd, because I had read the books easily two dozen times before those movies came out.

    • Don’t forget John Williams’ music. That really works. Those movies would not be half as good without that music.

  24. Hiawatha Bray

    Surely you’re famlayr with the definitive defense of the Dark Side? Written back in 2002, this lovely bit of contrarian writing is one of the best Star Wars-related essays…ever!

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/248ipzbt.asp

  25. Any of you read the Shakespearean versions? Fun. Especially if you like language.