Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Star Wars


I do not plan on seeing the latest Star Wars film that everyone is so excited about.

I was intensely devoted to the series as a youth--so much so that I have, to this day, most of the dialogue of the original three films memorized. The films completely dominated my childhood imagination and toy-collecting. Later, I read the novelizations, some of the comic books, and listened to the (surprisingly good) radio adaptation of the film.

This great well of enthusiasm for The Star Wars was steadily diminished, and then actually transmuted into an equally intense revulsion, through the strange alchemy of the Star Wars prequels.

I have no doubt that Disney and J. J. Abrams have succeeded in producing cinematic fare that is less infuriatingly awful than Episodes I to III of the Star Wars saga. However, what the latest film appears to have in common with the prequels (by all accounts) is the absence of any shred (howsoever slender) of authentic human interest or emotion. Instead, all of these films are skillfully but cynically created vehicles for Disney's Galactic Empire of merchandising and tie-ins.

It's true that the Star Wars films were intended as vehicles for merchandising from the beginning. However, the first three films (Episodes IV to VI) at least managed to combine their frenetic action, obsession with sound and visual effects, and barrage of space vehicles and other sci-fi hoo-ha with well-drawn (if simple) characters, genuinely interesting (if occasionally choppy) plot arcs, and dialogue that was at least not uniformly wooden and terrible.

The first Star Wars film (1977) was also genuinely innovative with respect to the wider world of cinema. To wit: the aforementioned sound and visual effects were at the time revolutionary and ushered in a cascade of technical innovations; the pacing and editing of the films set a new standard for action films; and George Lucas' deliriously bizarre but somehow deeply coherent mash-up of the space opera, samurai, Western, and war film genres was genuinely inspired.

So here is a fistful of links to solemnly mark this week's epoch-making cinematic event (ahem). Enjoy!

1. Original Star Wars concept art.

2. Cracked's David Wong on "5 Things 'Star Wars' Fans Don't Understand about 'Star Wars'."

3. George Lucas' Star Wars Rough Draft from 1974.

4. Prescient but spoiler-free review of "The Force Awakens."

5. Thoughts on the issue of race in "The Force Awakens."





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