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Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 12 Nov 2017, 11:31
by The Modernist
Darryl Strawberry wrote:I agree. We often forget that Star Wars is not even set in some imagined future. It's an imagined past.


I'm not sure that that is a very important distinction though, at least not in evaluating the appeal of the films

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 12 Nov 2017, 11:34
by The Modernist
Toby wrote:apart spaceships, then it might be just the sound of lightsabers igniting or the music itself, which is a fundamental part of the movies.

I don't think these are "any other sci-fi film" because that does a disservice to other science fiction films, and to Star Wars itself. What are these "things"?


There lots of franchise films that offer this kind of escapism - the Batman series for instance.

I'll address your main points -which were interesting and insightful - later.

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 12 Nov 2017, 16:19
by borofan
PENK wrote:
borofan wrote:Isn't 9 films enough of that shit?


Yawn

That's me told. Incisive argument as ever... :roll:

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 12 Nov 2017, 16:30
by joels344
Toby wrote:
joels344 wrote:I'm not necessarily a Star War diehard or anything, but I see this as a potential positive for the franchise. I thought what Rian Johnson did with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was refreshing and possibly my favorite work within Star Wars or at the very least, ranks closely to The Empire Strikes Back. F


That was Gareth Edwards, not Rian Johnson.


My not being a huge Star Wars is really showing now. :D

Either way, he’s done excellent work in Breaking Bad. I also enjoyed Looper and Brick. The trilogy seems to be in good hands.

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 12 Nov 2017, 18:53
by PENK
The Modernist wrote:
PENK wrote:
And for what it’s worth I think of the Star Wars films - or something like James Bond - as a series that keeps going because it’s grade-A escapism with an established, inviting world that offers possibilities and excitement, though the quality varies from film to film. They’re comfort viewing.


Cheers. I'm sure that's it, but it still seems strange to me as you can get those things from any sci-fi film. Why be obsessed with Luke Skywalker..?


I think that a lot of these things are just down to some random combination of ingredients to be honest. It's often hard to pinpoint some grand artistry or amazing innovation but Star Wars, like Harry Potter, which we spoke about recently, just seems to get the right things in the right place to press people's buttons. You can immerse yourself in that world for the duration of the films whether you're a casual fan or one of these people who knows the names and backstories of all the aliens who appear onscreen for a split-second.

There are a lot of crummy sci-fi films around; nobody buys into The Chronicles of Riddick or Jupiter Ascending the same way they do Star Wars, while Ridley Scott's attempts to build some kind of mythology around his Alien films have been increasingly stupid. Star Wars has a lot of dodgy dialogue, some sizable plot holes, some very silly characters and ideas, and makes little or no attempt at the cutting-edge concept sci-fi of a Dick or Kubrick, yet it somehow works. For a hell of a lot of people.

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 12 Nov 2017, 19:50
by Goat Boy
I think its appeal is fairly obvious.

I shall be back to explain later

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 12 Nov 2017, 21:44
by The Modernist
I can sort of understand people enjoying them, but why the obsession and all the anticipation? They're simplistic kids films ultimately. I'm surprised people don't just grow out of them or get bored of them.

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 12 Nov 2017, 22:03
by *fun and open field*
The Modernist wrote:I can sort of understand people enjoying them, but why the obsession and all the anticipation? They're simplistic kids films ultimately. I'm surprised people don't just grow out of them or get bored of them.


I'm with you, G, but I don't get the appeal of this kind of stuff (Bladerunner too) generally.

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 13 Nov 2017, 09:15
by Toby
The Modernist wrote:I can sort of understand people enjoying them, but why the obsession and all the anticipation? They're simplistic kids films ultimately. I'm surprised people don't just grow out of them or get bored of them.


A hell of a lot of it has to do with nostalgia, pure and simple. Roger Ebert once said that "Star Wars colonized our imagination" so that continuing echoes of it through the series of later films after A New Hope had powerful effects. When the trailer for The Force Awakens debuted, I remember seeing my twitter feed explode with comments "I just went back to my childhood for 2 minutes", something that definitely did not happen with the prequel trilogy.

I have doubts as to whether nostalgia is a good thing for artistic purposes - but then again I guess it is a relatively new thing in many respects. How much art previous to film really channelled our childhoods?

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 13 Nov 2017, 12:00
by The Great Defector
The Modernist wrote:I can sort of understand people enjoying them, but why the obsession and all the anticipation? They're simplistic kids films ultimately. I'm surprised people don't just grow out of them or get bored of them.



You hush your mouth!

*Puts finger to side of temple and starts to concentrate*

Huh, huh, feel a choking sensation?!?!?! Yeah!

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 14 Nov 2017, 15:51
by Goat Boy
Obi Wan-Toby wrote:I don't think these are "any other sci-fi film" because that does a disservice to other science fiction films, and to Star Wars itself. What are these "things"?


Well, it's not Science Fiction; it's Space opera



What are they indeed. For years I thought the phrase “space opera” was used to emphasise the importance of the music in Star Wars rather than being a reference to a bygone sub genre of science fiction:

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking. Set mainly or entirely in outer space, it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, and other sophisticated technology. The term has no relation to music, but is instead a play on the terms "soap opera" and "horse opera",[citation needed] the latter of which was coined during the 1930s to indicate clichéd and formulaic Western movies. Space operas emerged in the 1930s and continue to be produced in literature, film, comics, and video games.


I’d like to think the person who initially used it was canny enough to deploy the phrase understanding that it also captured something fundamentally important and different about Star Wars and that its use of music to heighten and capture emotion and feeling is something close to genius. Name another movie where the score is this important? It’s not that easy.

Star Wars says nothing speculative about human society and where we are heading. It has no ambitions like that at all. The technology is far-fetched and out there (destroying planets?). There is this metaphysical force that maybe has its roots in the hippie revolution’s embrace of eastern mysticism that enables people to manipulate the physical world and do seriously cool shit. Seriously? What is this shit? Why, at my age do I still approach an automatic door and occasional swipe my hand pretending I have Jedi powers. What the fuck is all all that about? And yet in this futuristic world you still have old world shit like people dueling with these things called lightsabres which are basically swords but way cooler. They also make this magical hum which is instantly recognisable and transportive.

It’s not like other science fiction, it really isn’t and when you boil it down I guess it’s something as elemental and eternal as good versus evil but simply relocated to some galaxy far, far away and a long time ago. Sure you can talk about jungian archetypes and how this gives Star Wars its universal, mythic quality. You can talk about the films influences and how they’ve been mashed together into this singular thing: the westerns (The Searchers is directly referenced), the Kurosawa influence (Hidden Fortress, the Jedi/Samurai), the WW2 influence (dogfights, the evil Empire). You can analyse its appeal in a wider cultural and sociological context and posit theories and ideas as to why it hit so hard. Like maybe the timelessness of the good versus evil battle maybe resonated with a generation of Americans who grew up under the shadow of the bomb and Vietnam and Nixon; or that the visual break away from the pristine sterility of 2001 and other science fiction films perhaps chimed with the down at heel 70s. Perhaps the malfunctioning Millennium Falcon fondly reminded people of their beat up Ford Pinto, I don’t know. I wasn’t there man. It’s funny how nobody, bar Spielberg apparently, predicated that this was going to be biggest thing in cinema. How could they? On paper it really shouldn’t play.

To use a musical analogy, Star Wars was the closest cinema has come to the Beatles. Not that they are comparable artistically but its pop culture impact is unsurpassed which is why you get 45 year old men who still dress up as Luke Skywalker. You can talk about a state of arrested development here and that would be perfectly valid and you can also talk about people holding on/reliving their long vanished youth through these movies and that’s certainly a large part of it, no question. Maybe that’s the simplest explanation as to why people still obsess over it and anticipate this thing like nothing else really. Maybe we all are just chasing a feeling, the sense of wonder and magic we experienced as a child when watching these films for the first time. And why the hell not? That’s something worth chasing no? Magic.

The Modernist wrote: Cheers. I'm sure that's it, but it still seems strange to me as you can get those things from any sci-fi film. Why be obsessed with Luke Skywalker..?


Because you rarely get what Star Wars does, at its best, from other science fiction films.

Who is Luke Skywalker? What does he represent? What’s his story arc?

Young man living in some crappy dustbowl planet where nothing happens, occasionally staring off into the distance at night longingly dreaming of adventure. Think of the scene with Luke and two suns. Listen to John Williams music and understand what is very obviously being communicated here. It’s universal and its simplicity does not limit its power. On the contrary it’s the simplicity that gives it its power. Who can’t relate to Luke here? Who hasn’t dreamed what he is dreaming here? It’s a great cinematic moment. Your average science fiction movie has rarely communicated something as profound and elegantly simple as Lucas does here. There are lots of moments like this in the original trilogy, moments where sound and vision combine into something Other. Pure cinema? Magic? I dunno, nostalgia plays a part here – how can it not - but Star Wars is cinematic in a way that most movies aren’t. It understands how to use visuals to communicate ideas and plot and, crucially, it understands how to use music and sound in a profound way. To me, this is what sets it apart and this is what elevates it into the realms of something occasionally great; popular entertainment but done exceptionally well. The fact that the story is simple and that the characters do not have great depth does not negate its obvious quality in my opinion and to focus on the later at the expense of the former is deliberately narrowing the experience and, I think, fundamentally, misunderstanding the movies strengths.

Think of the opening scene of Star Wars. You have the crawl giving you a brief lowdown of what’s happening but you don’t really need to read it to understand the opening scenes. There’s a small ship and it’s being chased by a big ship. The big ship is really, really fucking big and it takes an age to cross the screen. John Williams is absolutely kicking arse, the small ship is desperately trying to escape and there’s a lady dressed in virginal white and then Darth Vadar appears and we know of course that he’s bad ass and not just because he’s dressed like a fucking nightmare but because he’s got this weird breathing thing going on. There is something remarkably pure and direct here. To critics they would dismiss this as adolescent perhaps (it’s for kids!) but to me it communicates something akin to pure pleasure like, say, the opening bars of I Want To Hold Your Hand or the first mouthful of ice cold coke. From a modern standpoint its innocence and simplicity communicates not just the loss of personal innocence but also a cultural innocence too. Like an early Beatles record or Pet Sounds, it speaks to us of a world that has been lost but still exists in the popular consciousness and which we want to return to occasionally. That’s Ok, you know.

Star Wars is full of moments where John Williams music combines with the story to create something with a degree of wonder obviously missing from most Sci-Fi but absolutely present in the best science fiction films (2001, Bladerunner). See also Yoda lifting the X-wing from the swamp or Lukes trench run and that moment where Williams romanticism accompanies Obi Wans mystical nonsense to wonderful affect. Silly? Of course. Hokey? You betcha. Cheesy? Shit yeah! But that music! It’s uncanny.

And it’s not just the magnificent score either, the noises too are great and so memorable and iconic. Like Bleep says, just hearing these funny things can be transportive: the screeching of Tie fighters, the excitable jabbering of the Jawas, R2-D2s blips and beeps which communicate childlike excitement but also childlike disappointment, the cosmic hum of the lightsabres and so. The sound design is full of invention and brilliance giving objects real character, humanity. The Millennium Falcon is not just the fastest ship in the galaxy. It’s a living, breathing thing, a character in itself which is why people go all giddy when they see it blasting a tie fighter and performing some death defying manoeuvre. It’s like watching an 80 year old Clint Eastwood wiping out a bad guy.

Anyway, let’s go back to Luke for a while. So he manages to escape this rock and he goes off on his adventure and he ends up meeting the baddest man in the galaxy and they have a fight and he loses a hand and he learns that the baddest man in the galaxy is actually the Old Man. Ouch! Who the hell saw that one coming? One of cinemas greatest twists. So now he has to kill his own Father but he's scared that he might become his Father too so he's wrestling with his own identity and destiny but instead of debating whether he follows the old man into accounting, it's whether he's going to turn to the dark side and rule the galaxy. With a metal hand. This is not your typical sci fi shit nor is it typical of movies in general, the killing your own Father thing I mean. So we’re back to that phrase: space opera.

I’m not going to pretend I’m an opera aficionado but I know that some silly, weird shit happens in these things. Moments of absurd, over the top melodrama accompanied by music of bombast, romance, beauty, magic, all that shit. The opera world is, well, the opera world. It inhabits its own place. Star Wars does too. Even with all its influences and age old hero myths it inhabits its own world within cinema. There is nothing else quite like it and consequently it’s a world people like to revisit. Even with its flaws and plot holes and clumsy dialogue and hammy acting because when it gets it right, it really gets it fucking right. For two movies it got it right.

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 14 Nov 2017, 16:31
by Matt Wilson
Damn, Dougie! You can write, son...

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 14 Nov 2017, 16:49
by Darryl Strawberry
Chapeau, Dougie. Spot on

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 14 Nov 2017, 17:06
by Darryl Strawberry
Goat Boy wrote:For two movies it got it right


Three.

Return of the Jedi is brilliant. The fight scene between Luke and Vader is incredible.

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 14 Nov 2017, 17:16
by Matt Wilson
Darryl Strawberry wrote:
Goat Boy wrote:For two movies it got it right


Three.

Return of the Jedi is brilliant.


It so isn't. Episode 3 is far better.

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 14 Nov 2017, 17:17
by Rayge
I'm impressed by Dougie's analysis, but the one SW film I saw (the first), I realized it was basically a fairy tale with fancy hardware to get the boys interested, aimed at people half my age.
Of course if it works for you then, you can make it part of your mythology for the rest of your life: my son saw the original as a young teen, and now, approaching 50, takes his sons along to every new showing and enjoys it hugely. I'm not knocking it, it's just that I already had my fix of this sort of thing as a teen, and I couldn't really suspend disbelief because I could see through it, in the sense that I was aware of the construction, and it also came out around the time I stopped going to the cinema because I moved somewhere I couldn't get to one easily.
Just another downbeat and tangential Rayge post, safe to ignore.

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 14 Nov 2017, 19:22
by *fun and open field*
Interesting - and sort of sad - how for some people magic is present in certain examples of art yet for others it's just 'flat'.

I'm with Ray more than Dougie but that's one fuck of a piece of writing, D.

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 14 Nov 2017, 19:29
by Darryl Strawberry
Dr. E. PLATE wrote:Interesting - and sort of sad - how for some people magic is present in certain examples of art yet for others it's just 'flat'.

I'm with Ray more than Dougie but that's one fuck of a piece of writing, D.

Why is it sad, John?

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 14 Nov 2017, 19:47
by Belle Lettre
Darryl Strawberry wrote:
Goat Boy wrote:For two movies it got it right


Three.

Return of the Jedi is brilliant. The fight scene between Luke and Vader is incredible.

Yes, three, despite the Ewoks.

Stirring post, Dougie. There is another film where the score is as important - Jaws of course, more John Williams.

Re: New Star Wars trilogy

Posted: 14 Nov 2017, 23:02
by The Modernist
[quote="Rayge"]I'm impressed by Dougie's analysis, but the one SW film I saw (the first), I realized it was basically a fairy tale with fancy hardware to get the boys interested, aimed at people half my age. /quote]

Yeah, Dougie's put a lot into that post so I'm loathe to dissect it and pick holes. But I think it's success is chiefly a lowest common denominator thing (thematically it's on the same level as a 30s Flash Gordon film) combined with very clever marketing. And once you've bought into it then you becoming part of this gigantic community of fans and I think people are really drawn to those kind of shared experiences, and because it's been going so long shared histories, these days.