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SuperMechagodzilla
Jun 9, 2007
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ONE YEAR LATER posted:

The idea of one corporation owning so many different cultural properties makes me physically nauseous and I don't know why. I find it gross and dangerous in ways I can't even fully explain. I am dreading the next decade of even more Star Wars branded garbage that we'll all have to endure.

Since the special editions in 199X, Lucas has shown nothing but contempt for his fans - in a hilarious way.

What are those slipshod 'digital remasters' if not evil clones, directly analogous to the CGI clone troops in (the Blade Runner-homaging) Episode 2? Why does Star Wars SE feature a direct reference to Jurassic park (with its Ronto-saurus) if not to draw on its nightmare vision of cutting-edge SFX technology gone awry? Why is the entire franchise suddenly saturated with evil, digital clones?

Lucas knows that the medium is the message, and has positioned Lucasfilm as the Empire, in a battle against the rebel pirates that distribute unaltered bootlegs of the original films. The highest level of Star Wars fans reject the expanded universe wholesale, don't buy merchandise, and in fact must actively attack Lucasfilm - and now Disney. What are commonly held as the main tenets of Star Wars fandom are actually evidence that the point has been lost. This is why Lucas produced the prequels as satirical tales of stupid, ineffectual liberals playing at being the heroes in a videogame-universe before being crushed by the machine they helped create.

Legions of dudes with plastic lightsabres play at being Jedi, but treat the force as a vulgar mechanism and show no care for the original films' revolutionary politics. Nerds get angry at midichlorians because they utterly devastate the logic of wookiepedia, by taking it to its natural conclusion. Phantom Menace's midichlorians prefigure Prometheus' essential contrast between positive knowledge and authentic belief. The prequels are anti-fandom, and anti-fandom is the heart of Star Wars.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Nov 2, 2012 around 06:22

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SuperMechagodzilla
Jun 9, 2007
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BreakAtmo posted:

Like Captain Oblivious said above, I believe Lucas has stated that 'Bringing balance to the Force' means destroying the Sith. It's not a 'balance between Light and Dark' thing, it's that the Light Side of the Force is good, and the Dark Side of the Force is a corruption that the galaxy is better off without. Not particularly nuanced, but that's supposedly the intention.

What folks don't realize is that this necessarily means Yoda is wrong and therefore not a true representative of the light side. It's is only further underlined by the prequels making the jedi a bunch of well-meaning but dangerous incompetents.

Going after his friends and being emotional makes Luke more light-sided, not less.

SuperMechagodzilla
Jun 9, 2007
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Friendly Factory posted:

You're part of the problem. The Force is a mystical energy that gives insight when you're calm, not some fireball slinging garbage that lets you leap several stories. It was so interesting originally because it was so mysterious. The prequels ruined the Force and as much as I think Genndy Tartakovsky is a good animation director, his version of the Force was even worse.

Clone Wars is full of references to medieval artwork, cave paintings and so-forth. It's stylized and symbolic, whereas the actual prequel films are about a stiflingly literalistic hyperreality. The original films exist somewhere in the middle, between those two extremes - though much closer to what Tartakovsky is doing.

SuperMechagodzilla
Jun 9, 2007
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The correct pro order is actually 0,5,6 -> 1,2,3,4SE,5SE,6SE.

The theatrical versions of the original trilogy are wholly distinct from the 'special editions' and subsequent altered releases.

SuperMechagodzilla
Jun 9, 2007
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People consistently misidentify what is good about the prequels. Like, they look at them and think of what could make them more serious and realistic.

While not great films, the true appeal of the Star Wars prequels is that they're Plan 9 From Outer Space on a multi-million-dollar budget. Most people have simply not progressed to the point that their disdain has grown into ironic appreciation, let alone the enlightened level of sincere appreciation. Plan 9 is in the canon of truly great films - and the Star Wars prequels are its spiritual successors, for better or worse.

COUNT DRACULA shows up and zaps Darth Vader with his electricity powers, and then has a kung-fu fight with Yoda. Darth Vader turns into a Frankenstein. I can't use enough italics to convey how great this is, but so-called fans are now pushing for Pirates-of-the-Caribbean levels of innocuous competence. It's a real shame.

SuperMechagodzilla
Jun 9, 2007
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sethsez posted:

Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter has a clown car full of atheists getting beaten up by kung-fu Jesus, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus has a giant shark jump out of the ocean and eat a plane, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has more crossover shenanigans than I care to remember, but they all still manage to be boring, lovely movies. It takes more than some bad dialog, wooden acting and ridiculous moments to make the next Plan 9. I'd give that award to Battlefield Earth, if anything, and even then it's a stretch.

Also, I'd like to think Christopher Lee has done enough to justify being known as more than Dracula.

Lee is in the movie as Count D. - the same movie with (D)jango the gunslinger, among other shenanigans.

There's more to Plan 9 than just bad acting. Plan 9 is the story of an alien who journeys to Hollywood to scare the world with Draculas and Frankensteins. But the higher-ups slash his budget and the public doesn't take his message seriously, even when he narrates it directly to them with an impassioned monologue. If you pay attention, parts of it are incredibly touching and sad. Parts of it convey a lifetime of despair and frustration. The saucer burning at the end predicts Easy Rider.

The Star Wars prequels are likewise about 'bad art' - but not in the sense of a misunderstood outsider artist, but in the sense of an artist compromised by his success. Lucas writes Emperor Palpatine in his prequels as directly analogous to himself.

The original Star Wars is frequently read as a metaphor for the film brats at American Zoetrope besting the big studios. The film was brazen about its revolutionary politics - and Luke S. = Lucas, duh. In the prequels, meanwhile, everything is not-so-subtly hosed - everything is a machination of the godlike Emperor.

Fans don't understand, for example, that Jar-Jar is deliberately offensive - part of a broader critique of 'political correctness'. Note how liberal Queen Amidala condescendingly prostrates herself before the ignoble Gungan king. It's all the pageantry of equality without the actual content. Remember that the film ends with a 'multicultural equality parade', when we've already established (from Amidala's condescension) that this 'multiculturalism' is a sugarcoated white supremacy. And, sure enough, Jar-Jar will be manipulated by the emperor in much the same way Amidala had manipulated him. The happy ending of the Phantom Menace is tempered by the foreknowledge that everyone in that parade will be dead or disgraced within a few years' time. This is not unintentional. By their very nature, the prequels are regressions.

The prequels are designed to be watched 'second' because they are about the revolutionaries growing into corrupt and decadent liberals. They show Lucas being intensely autocritical, as well as critical of his fanbase. It's just as Plan 9 chastises sci-fi fans who approach the stories in terms of 'tactical realism' and whatnot, while ignoring their actual content.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Nov 28, 2012 around 11:15

SuperMechagodzilla
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thrawn527 posted:

Normally I give your analysis posts the benefit of the doubt, because they tend to have a "death of the author" feel to them, where the original intent of the creator isn't as important as how they can be seen. But here I think you're giving Lucas way too much credit for how much he intended with the movies. You think Jar Jar was "deliberately offensive" and not just a cash grab for kids to like him for stepping in the "poodoo"? You think Lucas actually set out to make movies that were supposed to be bad, because he was trying to satire a genre he helped pioneer? I don't know man, I think they're just boring cash grabs for creating more toys and a cartoon series.

You're conflating 'goodness' with naturalism. Lucas set out to make films that were glaringly artifical. You can tell this from the final product where they are, indeed, glaringly artificial. Whether this artifice is (inherently?) 'bad' is a value judgement that you have to make for yourself. I consider their artifice part-and-parcel with their self-satire.

As for the argument that Jar-Jar is solely there to placate toddlers with poo poo jokes, why include the fairly advanced racial themes? Amidala smirking while she bows before the King Gungan is absolutely in the film. She is absolutely lying to him when she says she respects him. Then, the film absolutely ends with a multiculturalism parade. This is all in the text. Whether this is 'good' (accurate/meaningful) depiction of race relations is, again, a value judgement that is up to you. But the race themes are absolutely there, as they were in the original star wars (where droids are segregated and Chewbacca is implied to be an ex-slave).

The films are not 'just for toddlers' because that displaces the burden of reading the film onto a two-years-old child. You watched it.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Nov 28, 2012 around 22:21

SuperMechagodzilla
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I don't like bringing out 'Occam's Razor' in discussions of art, but when you assume that every single aspect of a film is a mistake explained by idiocy, that is actually relying on way too many assumptions. That's not a simple explanation at all, if you stop to think about it for even a second.

SuperMechagodzilla
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Even so, my belief that the films' pop artifice is 'deliberate' is a minor point in my conclusion, not a major premise.

Your point does demonstrate, though, that 'idiocy' is being employed as an explanatory 'god of the gaps'. The specter of Lucas' ostensibly inhuman stupidity is, to fairweather fans, ineradicable.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Nov 28, 2012 around 22:46

SuperMechagodzilla
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The prequels are very competent - just not in ways that people wanted.

As has been pointed out already, this is not to say that they are 'great films'. Prometheus is just one of many films that do better with the same themes. Lucas is not 'playing 12-dimensional chess' by including a loathsome alien version of Borat in order to satirize liberal tolerance. It's not complicated at all, really - in the same way Borat himself is not complicated. But simplicity is not meaninglessness.

The Star Wars prequels are not 'well-plotted' in a conventional sense. Wookiepedia has certainly charted exact timelines for how everything happened, but those hows and whys are usually occluded in the films, dumped in via incredibly vague exposition. I see this as beneficial - attacking the notion of Star Wars as a 'virtual universe' of franchise canon. The original Star Wars was obviously a hermetically-sealed work, with highly symbolic characters and settings (e.g.: "The Desert", "The Wizard", etc.). The opening text announced outright that it was a myth. Then something went very wrong, and this was forgotten.

Star Wars fans reading a fairy tale today would demand a canonical explanation for how Red-Riding Hood's attacker could speak. (The answer: "Midichlorians.")

The shift from symbolism to simulation is also evident in how Ben Kenobi's Wizard robes and magic sword became the mass-produced uniform of the entire Jedi order. Imagine two hundred Merlins all wielding Excalibur. Yes, it's satire. Red Letter Media observed the countless shots of light-sabers being casually dropped and tossed away in the prequels, but missed this significance.

The prequels are quite good with the visual storytelling in that respect. They embrace their medium(s). The green-screen shots work in much the same way as the deliberately 'bad' jetpack effects in Truffaut's version of Fahrenheit 451. The CGI city in Episode 2 suggests a sanitized copy of Blade Runner - as befits a film so heavily critical of digital cloning. He replicated the movie about replicants, get it?

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Nov 30, 2012 around 05:45

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porfiria posted:

Everyone, including the fabled Fanboys, hated the Midichlorians from day one though, precisely because they turn the Force into a quantifiable Dragon Ball Z-esque power metric. You're arguing, what, the film makes fun of fans for buying into something that they've rejected?

Obsessive fandom (of the sort that results in Wookiepedia) is fueled by fantasy of total positive knowledge. Star Wars fans desire 'answers' that will provide a complete picture of the Star Wars virtual universe, so that its entire teleological design can be fully comprehended. (What are the clone wars, how did Yoda use a lightsaber, etc.) Since no such design actually exists, the point of fandom is the desiring itself. Fans do not 'actually' want these answers. It's just endless desire. And Lucasarts has gladly catered to with the endless supply of tantalizing 'Expanded Universe' materials cataloged as Wookiepedia.

With the midichlorians (and showing the 'actual' Clone War, and showing the 'actual' Jedi Order, etc.) the prequels confront fans with their desire, fully materialized in a horrifically literal fashion. The point is to break them away from the fantasy of total knowledge and (hopefully) spur them towards authentic appreciation of the original films as pop mythology.

The true lesson of the midichlorians is that Qui-Gon is a lovely Jedi and that the true path of the Jedi is in belief in the force, not in vulgar knowledge of it. The message to fans is, likewise, that Wookiepedia is garbage and anathema to what Star Wars is actually about.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Nov 30, 2012 around 10:00

SuperMechagodzilla
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Also dark force powers don't literally exist and serve only as a metaphor for, in this case, capitalism. That's why Palpatine's influence 'secretly' pervades everything and manipulates everyone, regardless of where they exist on the political spectrum. Palpatine is a metaphorical character, not merely a space-Hitler (Hitler was, of course, not some super-villainous mastermind in real life).

Yoda doesn't see 'the dark side' because he is fighting for liberal democracy - which is 'the dark side'.

OneThousandMonkeys posted:

The idea that this was all the master plan is demonstrably preposterous.

Conflating competence with a specific filmmaking style with a 'master plan' is ridiculous.

The Star Wars prequels are clearly in the same style and genre as Watchmen, Prometheus, King Kong and films of that sort. The prequels are not as good as those films either, so I am clearly saying that George Lucas is less of a 'mastermind' than Zack Snyder, Ridley Scott or Peter Jackson. (I do think the prequels are better than Avatar, for what that's worth.)

This is like I'm basically describing how editing works and then you saying 'what kind of GENIUS MASTERMIND could invent a shot reverse shot that so BRILLIANTLY manipulates our minds?' And it's like no, George Lucas just made a decently goofy political film about how dumb everyone is. Darth Vader pouts about inequality and then murders some 'sand people' to compensate. It's not rocket science.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Nov 30, 2012 around 21:51

SuperMechagodzilla
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Bongo Bill posted:

Plan 9 From Outer Space requires a fairly unnatural reading to make enjoyable; call that reading "enlightened" or "ironic" or just plain "wrong," you must admit that it's very different from the mindset under which many people really loved the original trilogy. Who wants a successor to Plan 9 when they could have a successor to Star Wars? Should a new Star Wars movie really reveal the folly of liking the old ones? Does the mere fact of their separation in time mean that it's inappropriate to criticize them for failing to maintain tonal and thematic consistency (as "episodes" are they not in fact best interpreted as parts of a whole)? Maybe if they had been released under a different title nobody would care.

The prequels aren't dissing the original Star Wars. They are dissing bad 'readings' of Star Wars that focus on the tech, the plot and the ostensible realism over such things as basic cinematic technique and symbolism.

R2-D2 is not just 'a robot' but the robot, in a philosophical sense. Lucas uses him to talk about the philosophy of artificial intelligence, which is why you have the scene of him playing chess against Chewbacca. It's a fairly direct reference to the Turing test. The original Star Wars is loaded with references to Marshall McLuhan, such as the preponderance of perspective lines and references to 'tribal' cultures. There are countless scenes of characters interacting with different media. Han Solo spends like a straight minute blowing up security cameras, and then impersonates a guard over the radio. (Seriously, pay attention to how many insert shots of security cameras exploding there are). C-3P0, a translator robot, is unable to distinguish cheering from screaming over his radio. This theme of different media and their powers/limitations is so important to the film that it culminates in Luke's decision to shut off his targeting computer. It's why Vader has multiple prosthetic limbs. It's why Leia's message looks like television. This is what Star Wars is predominately 'about'.

In the prequels, the media is digital photography, CGI and whatnot. As the medium is different, so is the message. Lucas does not try to disguise his effects. He foregrounds them and their artifice. The prequels were always going to be different from the original films, by sheer fact of being prequels made at the turn of the millenium with brand-new technologies.

Expecting 'consistency' is exactly why the prequels were needed. Everyone demanded 'more Star Wars' and that's precisely what they got - an assload as Star Wars Brand Product, straight from the same franchise that brought you collectible Pepsi cans. I appreciate the honesty. It's the same honesty as in Transformers.

What people should have demanded is 'more films like Star Wars, (e.g. films shot on film - with muppets, 'primitive' optical effects, and progressive political themes). Beyond The Black Rainbow is a good, recent example. Beyond The Black Rainbow is a retrospective on the 1980s, where the Star Wars prequels are unmistakably films about life in the early 2000s. They have absolutely nothing to do with life in the late 1970s/1980s. They could have been, but they were not.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Dec 1, 2012 around 10:34

SuperMechagodzilla
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It bears repeating that the first half of Episode 2 specifically apes Blade Runner, which was also 'not really' a detective story.

One of the best bits in Episode 2 is when it's revealed that one of the characters is a shape-shifter (created using CGI effects). This fact has absolutely no plot relevance. Consequently, it is entirely of thematic relevance: the shape-shifter underlines the themes of identity, cloning and simulation. The film will later create a million copies of actor Temuera Morrison.

Idiosyncratic C-3PO will have his body switched with that of a mass-produced idiot-robot. This, as well, has absolutely no plot relevance. It's entirely thematic. It's a low-brow gag that conceals some body horror - the new body begins affecting his mind and C3PO starts to enjoy killing his allies.

The prequels are fairly abstract films in this respect, which is why I appreciate them. They are almost antinarrative, but the visuals are clear and concise.

SuperMechagodzilla
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My favorite detail about C-3PO, that nobody seems to pick up on, is that he's fronting. C-3PO wears the gold plating and talks in an upper-class accent in order to curry favor with his 'superiors'. He's not oblivious - he's self-consciously employing this behavior as a survival mechanism. It's his direct response to the overt anti-droid discrimination in the films - just as Chewbacca responds to racism with militant bravado.

C-3PO is not actually useless, in that respect. Note the scene where he fools some stormtroopers (and ultimately saves the mission) by pretending to be a servant - which, of course, is what he had been doing all along. That's also how he freed R2-D2 from the Jawas, if you'll recall. It's a character arc: C-3PO goes from using his servile act to impress those in power (integrating himself into the system) to trying to deceive them with it (subverting the system from within). That's the point where he truly joins the rebellion.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Dec 3, 2012 around 08:27

SuperMechagodzilla
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ten dollar bitcoin posted:

Lucas always justifies changes to the original trilogy by saying he 'always' wanted it that way. You can't really take him at his there either, as a lot of the changes are too trivial for him to have been stewing over their absence for 30 years.

The changes are 'minor', but they cumulatively represent a tactic of retroactive authorship.

Where the original films were, famously, collaborative efforts, the special editions and prequels transform them into a grotesque parody of 'author intent' - directly analogous to how the entire diegetic galaxy is controlled by a single evil genius. Lucas is, again, the emperor of the films - which have now been 'corrupted' by digital technologies (of the sort that would detect midichlorians, natch).

As Ridley Scott does with Prometheus, Lucas is attacking the notion that the films 'merely depict' a teleological virtual universe of pure canon, and that their actual filmic qualities are arbitrary and irrelevant.

Internet people, unfortunately, bought right into the 'retroactive authorship' joke - ignoring the text of the films to obsess pointlessly over Lucas' intent. They may presume an idiotic authorial intent, but it is a presumption of overriding authorial intent all the same.

SuperMechagodzilla
Jun 9, 2007
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The only correct option for directing a new Star Wars is Panos Cosmatos.

I really liked Abrams' Star Trek, but it is a gently satirical film about making sense of this topsy-turvy information age. It's specifically anti-canon ("I saw it happen! Don't tell me it didn't happen!" cries the personification of everything that sucked). It uses CG lens flares in its all-digital sequences to simulate the presence of a physical camera and thereby ground the action. Characters are more at risk from their own crazy technology than from the villain.

Star Wars was not about the internet. It was about television. (The prequels were about the internet, and people complained that they were too different - forgetting that Star Wars was made in the late 1970s.)

SuperMechagodzilla
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Here is what Star Wars needs in order to be 'Star Wars' (in the sense of the original film):

-Prominent perspective lines, often glowing, contrasted with clouds or fields of debris.

-Emphasis on different types of communication and their limitations, with implicit reference to McLuhan. (Specific emphasis on visual communication.)

-Sharp-but-understated changes in character behavior, often contrasting dialogue. (e.g. C3PO performing a gentle funeral for the slaughtered jawas, after callously referring to them as 'filthy creatures' in an earlier scene).

-Appropriation of race/gender stereotypes, deflated through an acknowledgement of broader social and political contexts. (e.g. Chewbacca acting as a blaxploitation character as a militant response to his species' oppression.)

-Unusual focus on the economy. (Luke remarks on how his car's value has dropped sharply in a very short period of time, implying a deflationary economy.)

-Cautious endorsement of revolutionary politics. (Fight the power, but Chewbacca doesn't get a medal....)

-Gentle self-mockery. (e.g Hamill's incredibly dorky, over-eager delivery of the line "I'm Luke Skywalker and I'm here to rescue you!!!")

-General thematic imagery of prosthetics, 'tribal cultures', garbage, masks, metaphorically uniform planets.

Note that space battles, 'the force', laser swords, and specific characters are not listed as necessary.

SuperMechagodzilla
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Longbaugh01 posted:

You realize that line/delivery can be taken at face value. Luke was pretty eager about, well just about everything, after the magic of his surrogate parents dying.

Yes, and it's played for comedy in a way that mildly subverts the Hero's Journey stuff. Luke runs in and the first thing he does is announce his full name, clearly high on self-esteem. Leia then goes into hilarious bitch-mode.

This moment is both self-aware and totally sincere - acknowledging that Luke is a dorky moron, while also celebrating his enthusiasm.

SuperMechagodzilla
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david lunch posted:

Your list still asks that the film recycle junk from the past though. Only instead of worrying about stupid bullshit like which interpretation of the force is correct or what EU trash to keep canon you list thematic stuff.


Your direct equation of those two things is utterly bizarre to me.

Like, you're actually saying you could have a film that unambiguously endorsed fascism and call it 'Star Wars' if it did so in a fun, child-friendly way.

SuperMechagodzilla
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To clarify, I'm not against the upbeat tone or the genre trappings or any of that stuff. I'm not even against the space battles.

It's just a matter of recognizing that the laser sword was presented as something extremely meaningful, and should not be reduced to 'just a prop' (something the prequel films satirized with their stultifying ubiquity). Even if that meaning is subverted in some way, you still need knowledge of what it is that's been subverted.

But then, consider the amount of screen-time the laser sword gets in Star Wars - and compare that with how much time is spent on the nuanced interactions with (and between) ethnic aliens and homosexual robots. The latter must take up at least half the runtime.

david lunch posted:

The point I was trying to make was that the new Star Wars film should be free to explore new themes and not rehash what was already explored in the old movies. Like, it can still be a Star Wars film even though it doesn't have an "appropriation of race/gender stereotypes in it", for example. Just like it can still be a Star Wars film even though it doesn't have Tatooine or space battles in it.

There's a difference between 'recycling old themes' and building on previous themes, which is what I advocate.

If you replace all the important themes and imagery from Star Wars, you have a science fiction film under an arbitrary brand name. Not even the prequels did something so wrongheaded, although it's apparently not uncommon in the Wookiepediaverse.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Jan 30, 2013 around 14:27

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Lucas is often the smartest motherfucker in the room. The prequels were so smart that they went over people's heads completely.

The secret is that Lucas is evil - and you shouldn't confuse evil with stupidity.

SuperMechagodzilla
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Aorist posted:

And with that, it finally comes crashing into focus for me. How the hell have I never considered the significance of those images? I'm ecstatic.

The death star detention block is a long hallway stretching out into infinity. They escape by jumping out of the tunnel and into the pool of garbage.

Luke is spying on some sand people with his binoculars. One of them suddenly jumps up into the frame, having taken advantage of Luke's tunnel vision.

Vader adjust the knobs on his targeting computer while barreling through the infinitely long death star trench. Han Solo suddenly appears in his blind spot, and knocks him into the star-field.

It's really the only sensible explanation for the converging death star lasers.

Longbaugh01 posted:

I'm still confused by what that means, and why it's important.

"The world of visual perspective is one of unified and homogeneous space. Such a world is alien to the resonating diversity of spoken words. So language was the last art to accept the visual logic of Gutenberg technology, and the first to rebound in the electric age."
-Marshall McLuhan

"Use the force, Luke. Let go."
-Obiwan's disembodied voice

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Jan 30, 2013 around 22:44

SuperMechagodzilla
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The actual best trick is, using just basic literacy, convincing dozens of people that I have an expensive film degree.

SuperMechagodzilla
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You can tell the prequels are good by the sort of people who hate them.

They're really fantastic kitsch. My go-to example is when Yoda has a sword fight with an off-brand Count Dracula. And of course Yoda then appears on millions of Pepsi cans. Far from something to be ignored, the merchandising provides important context. Yoda is no longer a puppet. Yoda is on the side of Pepsi. Yoda fails miserably and slinks off in disgrace.

References are made to Jurassic Park, The Matrix, Blade Runner, The Fifth Element... yet folks still manage to complain that the prequels don't resemble a film from the 1970s.

SuperMechagodzilla
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It's always weird to read volumes of Lucas Lucas Lucas and only a handful of generalities concerning the actual films.

SuperMechagodzilla
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Thulsa Doom posted:

The creation of Star Wars is itself an unusual and compelling story. It's much like the development of Dune in that regard. There's a lot of drama (real or imagined) going on behind the production.

On top of that, people who are deeply committed to being fans of a series like Star Wars start to feel a sense of ownership over it. Their appreciation of it becomes tied to their sense of self to some degree, whether they remember it fondly from childhood or they're members of that 501st thing. Cultural touchstones have a way of producing that kind of thought in people. It's the same urge that leads to rooting for a sports team.

Well, yeah. But, thanks to Internet osmosis, I have read shitloads of exhaustive opinionating on the topic of the films that in no way reflect what they're actually about.

As an example, you could spend years reading internet commentary on Star Wars without ever learning that the love triangle exists - let alone the dynamics of it expressed in the quiet scene where Han casually asks Luke about his chances with a princess. Yeah, Han Solo is a lovable rogue or whatever, but check how Luke shoots him down unthinkingly, out of... jealousy? Dogmatic support of the rebellion? It's a weird moment that no-one ever talks about, just like the moment where Luke complains about the price of flying cars.

SuperMechagodzilla
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well why not posted:

Star Wars fans would rather talk about spaceship specifications & nuance than characterisation or context. This is unsurprising.

It's easy to dismiss Star Wars fans that way, but I think it's important to let the full impact sink in. Many people have devoted their entire lives to Star Wars without ever figuring out what the force is. It's not too rare for them to actually accept the midichlorian explanation - which, in the film, is a clear sign that these Jedi are going to fail. Foreknowledge of their total failure serves as a big flashing sign that says 'take what the protagonists do with a grain of salt, please.' The message of the prequels is legitimately that evil will triumph because good is dumb.

Queen Amidala, for example, wears gold bullshit and tolerates her boyfriend's genocidal tendencies because she's an honest-to-god liberal elitist. People like to quote her "this is democracy ends" line as proof of Lucas' liberal slant - but that presumes Amidala is sympathetic, when she's really an ineffectual racist who helped her equally-liberal buddy gain unlimited power in the name of protecting democracy.

The prequels are patently against liberal democracy, in a way that's entirely in keeping with the original films. They simply depict everything the rebels in the original films were rebelling against.

JohnSherman posted:

I just took it as a little bit of worldbuilding.

No.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Feb 2, 2013 around 09:56

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jivjov posted:

An excellent and well-formed refutation of his point. Your subtle nuance and well-phrased response really changed my opinion. Oh wait...you did none of that here. If you're gonna disagree with someone, you really should put some actual thought into it rather than just posting "no" like you're the only one here who can give factual responses and thus have no need to actually back them up.

That line about a new Landspeeder coming out and the price of Luke's not being as high anymore absolutely functions as world-building. If you want to read into it more, sure that's fine, but it holds up just fine as a bit of fluff about how people on this dustbowl go car shopping just like the people here.

No.

Stop to think, for a moment, how much of meaningless statement that is. It can be applied to literally anything.

When C3P0, a shoddy robot wandering aimlessly on a barren planet, complains that "We seem to be made to suffer. It's our lot in life." it's not a theological metaphor. No, it's just a bit of 'world-building' that tells us robots get depressed sometimes.

When Luke blows up the death star, it's not the climax of the movie. It's just a bit of 'world-building' that tells us that in he year 0 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) some guy fired a rocket at a laser gun and then the rocket hit the laser gun. It's just world-building, a bit of fluff. You can 'look deeper' by 'actually reading' but I am staying smart by not doing that.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Feb 2, 2013 around 20:07

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Jewel Repetition posted:

That's not an existentialist statement OR information about how robots work in the universe. It's part of C3PO's dramatic, self-pitying character.

You've just about got it. It is a philosophical stance - one that Lucas put in the mouth of a comically prissy character as a means of criticizing it.

Of course, C3P0 was actually literally 'made to suffer', because he is a literal robot slave in the literal plot. The implicit argument that a person can defy fate and become more than 'just a machine' is part-and-parcel with the concept of the force and its ties to the film's overall radical politics.

This is how things like plot, characterization and metaphor generate meaning when read in concert - and why it is not laudable or even defensible to deliberately ignore aspects of the text [e.g. jivjov's support of 'choosing not to read ("into it")'].

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Craptacular! posted:

They fail at being prequels.

Prequels are achronological sequels, and should pretty much never be viewed first.

Lucas' claim that the films are to be viewed in episode-order is part of his attack on the audience for their disdain towards history, in keeping with the retroactive authorship applied in the digital 'restoration' of the special editions. The special editions are ahistorical, continually updated to exist in an eternal present. Signs of their collaborative nature and the conditions of their production are progressively erased - on purpose. It's a troll, to put it succinctly. I don't like to bring intentionality into it, but the fact that Lucas' claims of adherence to an 'original plan' are obvious fibs provides important context.

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jivjov posted:

I'm merely advocating it as an option, and a valid one at that. Its perfectly acceptable to enjoy a movie by way of looking at its superficial aspects. It is just as perfectly acceptable to deconstruct everything down to the lowest level.

I understand that's what you are advocating, which is why I am criticizing it. There is no 'superficial level'. If someone doesn't get that the fictional robot is talking about, and being used to express, real philosophical and/or theological concerns, they are functionally illiterate.

There's no academic stature involved. You don't need to make specific reference to the book of Job or anything. The robot is unambiguously ruminating on the nature and purpose of its existence. It is being philosophical. There's no other way to describe it.

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Popcorn posted:

Where do you personally derive that 'should' from? Authorial intent (gasp)?
Nope, historical context! A New Hope: Special Edition contains an unambiguous reference to Jurassic Park with its CG 'Ronto' dinosaur. Its obviously impossible for Lucas to have pre-planned that - or the references to Blade Runner that are all over Ep. 2 - back in 197X.

There are exceptions that prove the rule, though. The prequels should absolutely be watched after the unaltered original films, but their relationship to the CG-defaced special editions is more ambiguous. Like I said, the special editions and prequels are part of the same satirical project of trapping the films in an eternal present of constant updates, supposedly increasing their fidelity to an original vision that never existed. (Their status as copies of an original that never existed is part of the satire of hyperreal blockbuster cinema.) Watching the prequels before the special editions doesn't hurt much - but both should be watched after the original(s).

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TOOT BOOT posted:

Waiting for the next special edition to be released, which changes the opening crawl to ' Episode IV- gently caress you!' and an image of Goatse.

Although that's the general idea, its a bit too punk. The point of the Special Editions is to gradually modify everything with digital 'enhancements.' The endgame, if there is one, would be to fully erase the line between live-action and animation, cease being cinema altogether, and replace every scene with a sequence of realtime, navigable, CG dioramas. Choose your own angle!

This idea of a Choose-Your-Own-Cut is alluring, but dangerously close to this very hellish concept that the prequels forewarn/exemplify. You better believe fans will just minimize the JarJar in a misguided effort to remove Phantom Menace's de facto protagonist - obscuring the symptoms while bolstering the disease.

There's this persistent, scary idea that the prequels are 'salvageable' which always amounts to a tacit defense of the liberal democracy being ruthlessly satirized. Make Amidala look more appealing, make Yoda look smarter, make the Jedi appear more competent... so that it ultimately becomes the story of a bunch of flawless liberal do-gooders overcome by bad luck and a single evil man named George W. Hitler. That's how thoroughly fans miss the point of all the films.

SuperMechagodzilla fucked around with this message at Feb 3, 2013 around 09:36

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BreakAtmo posted:

It also sort of goes against the concept of the creator's artistic vision - the main reason why I suggested it in this case is because a large number of the fans consider George's artistic choices to be, well, poo poo. Star Wars is in a pretty unique position, where there are about 4 different and very controversial editions of a trilogy by a creator who was so convinced of his artistic vision that he saw fit to make previous versions unavailable, and who now no longer retains the power over the IP he once did. I really can't think of a franchise in a similar situation. What other films would you want this feature in? People have mentioned Blade Runner, but isn't the Final Cut largely considered the straight-up best version?

The Blade Runner Final Cut is the best version, but that's because the alterations fit perfectly into the themes. It is all but literally a replicant of the original Blade Runner, a more 'perfect' but less 'authentic' copy. Scott is extremely aware of this, and he would continue down the same road with Prometheus. The Final Cut builds upon and complements the themes of the original Blade Runner, which is why they are frequently packaged together.

The special editions of Star Wars and the prequels do the same thing, but are heavily critical of the copies (hence, 'Attack of the Clones'). Unlike Blade Runner, there is a huge gulf in meaning between bootlegs of the original Star Wars*, and the currently-available digitally enhanced versions. That's why the idea of merging every cut into one mega-movie using Blu-Ray technology is totally against the spirit of Star Wars or its prequels.

There's a fan edit out there called 'The Despecialized Edition', which takes the crummy digital remasters and then uses more digital trickery to replicate the look of the original films - but better. This totally misses the point: Lucas is saying that, with digital manipulation, nothing is sacred. Reducing the grain and enhancing the colors is, to him, as bad as slapping a CG dinosaur in the background. The dinosaur just gets the point across in an exaggerated fashion. Remember that Lucas once protested this stuff before Congress. He didn't do a total 180 into hypocrisy. He's decided to embody the evil he warned about, to send a satirical message.

*For my money, the only true version of Star Wars is the 'Puggo Grande' Version, which is absolutely beautiful. Remember that Lucas has directly contrasted the 'perfect', canonical special editions and the original copies that will eventually fade and decay. The solution is not to slather even more digital enhancements over the special editions, but to embrace that decay.

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Longbaugh01 posted:

Despite a potential missed message, these are really awesome, and I highly recommend them.

They aren't totally bad in theory. They're a variation on the aesthetic of Grindhouse, which inserted digital simulations of analog errors to emphasize that these ostensible 'mistakes' actually contribute to the meaning of a film. The Despecialized Editions are likewise 'about' blurring the line between 'unintentional' and 'intentional' to the point of highlighting the arbitrariness and irrelevance.

The issue of them, though, is that they are adhering to a certain 'canon' by scrubbing the image into an HD copy of a nonexistent original. I find the methodology behind them pretty fascinating, but Puggo is the genuine article. (Remember how Star Wars contrasted the clean, slick empire with the rusty, jerry-rigged rebel tech?)

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There are so many CG dinosaurs inserted in the first film. It's fairly absurd!

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If those are your sole criteria, just watch StarCrash, Battle Beyond The Stars, or even Blackstar Warrior - which are much truer to the spirit of Star Wars than roughly 90% of the films in the franchise, and 100% of the expanded universe. Blackstar Warrior is canon.

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...of SCIENCE! posted:

Going off of The Secret History of Star Wars, this was because in Empire they wrote Yoda's throw-away line about an "other" in case Mark Hamill decided not to re-up or they made even more sequels beyond his contract; he could leave or they could kill him off and still have another plot thread to continue. When Lucas got tired of it all and decided Jedi was going to be the final movie they closed that off by making Leia the "other".

This is actually the best avenue for a sequel; they should blatantly retcon it so that Leia is not his sister. It's not really important anyway, because it was just a makeshift plug for a plot hole that didn't really need filling, and consequently one of the worst narrative choices in Return of the Jedi.

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Gyges posted:

I really want to believe that it was all part of the plan, and not happenstance, that puppet Yoda's advice to Luke is reasonably in conflict with CGI Yoda.

Who the man? Yoda man.

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