Thursday, October 2, 2008

Catching Up on Star Wars

Whew--restored to sanity by filming the first footage of the Fly yesterday afternoon. (Joop is not in the movie, even though he's sporting his show-dog haircut.) We were filming the Fly practicing her dance steps in the alley. All that fresh air blew away the chlorine gas.
(Note Bink's clever costume design: the fly's legs are pipe insulation.)

Then I stayed up till 1:30 a.m. watching Star Wars II and III (Attack of the Clones, 2002; Revenge of the Sith, 2005), which R & S lent me because I had never seen them.
Almost unbelievable, but the movies reminded me why I let the series drop out of my life: George Lucas is fantastic with machines and monsters but well below par with character.
(I'm pretty sure that's not a secret.)

I wish Lucas had found a collaborator who could write dialogue, for instance. Lines such as Padmé (Luke and Leia's supposedly intelligent mother, though you have to take her intelligence on faith) saying to Anakin (the future Darth Vader), as the world falls apart,
"I want to have our baby on Naboo [her home planet]; I'll go ahead and prepare the baby's room," sink to the embarrassing, like when someone you admire has bad breath.
Further, half the actors smell of high school gym class.

Worst of all, some of his non-humans reflect racial stereotypes that make your jaw drop. Didn't anyone notice and tell him his dirty slip was showing? (Maybe so--they seem to be gone in the third movie. But geez...)

Still, you see what Lucas is aiming for--it's familiar myth stuff, after all--and the action is so much fun, I enjoyed the movies a lot.

What kept me up till 1:30, though, was watching some of the "Making Of" features. It was encouraging to learn it took hundreds of people 70,000+ hours to create the final 1-minute light saber battle between Darth Vader and Obi Wan.
According to Wikipedia, the entire movie cost $113,000,000 (and earned 8 times that).
Now I won't feel so bad that Orestes and the Fly looks lumpy. And while I'm no good at dialogue, it won't be any worse than Lucas's.

Watching Star Wars made me want to watch again Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress (Japan, 1958--a good year for movies, it seems). It follows (in photo, left to right) a spoiled young princess being smuggled through dangerous territory by the loyal, self-confident warrior (Toshiro Mifune), accompanied by two bickering commoners.

This is famously the inspiration for George Lucas's first Star Wars movie (1977, now part IV), and I remember thinking it was great (like every Kurosawa movie I've seen). Kurosawa himself loved American movies--it all goes round and round.

7 comments:

deanna said...

Hi again, Fresca. My hats off to you in your Jayne hat for all you're doing and surviving! I'm beginnning to catch up on blogs and email and revive from zombie jetlag land after an amazing venture into the old country. I can't wait to see your movie and the making-of edition.

Sorry about the Relief journal price. It is available on amazon for less, but if you email me (deannahershiser[at]gmail[dot]com, I'll send it to you.

Sal said...

LOOK at that COSTUME! How is Joop so unafraid?

The Star Wars prequels really were godawful, weren't they? I agree that the dialog was atrocious, and noted some stereotypes. Even the SW faithful took issue, from what I recall.

Bookworm said...

Hi, I don't know if you watched this far in "Spaced" yet, but there is an episode (near the start of series 2) when Simon Pegg's character get's sacked from his job for refusing to sell a kid a Jah Jah Binks character doll.

fresca said...

Deanna: Welcome home! I sent you an e-mail and look forward to reading your essay in print.

Sal: Actually Joop doesn't like the way the pipe legs bounce around, but otherwise he's remarkably unfazed by his Person as a Fly. I guess as long as she smells the same...

Bookworm: I adore your new profile photo! And I adore "Spaced" so I am in your everlasting debt. I have watched all of the show and tried not to let Tim's assessment affect me, but of course you'd have to be a moron not to agree about the Binks character, lovely name notwithstanding.

Jennifer said...

That costume is awesome, and you're so right, your dialogue WILL be better than Lucas's--though this would be true if it were a silent movie as well.

I love Lucas's vision and energy, but he clearly finds women mystifying and strange creatures, and romantic relationships a complete cypher. I was so crushed when I learned that the definining romantic moment in Star Wars--Han's "I know" in "Empire Strikes Back" wasn't written by Lucas and he vehemently opposed using it. "Han should say 'I love you' back," he insisted. D: A massive imagination and a complete tin ear for human interaction.

I saw "The Hidden Fortress" just last year and loved it. It was very fun to see the parallels.

momo said...

I have still never seen any of the Star Wars movies beyond the original, which I saw in the theaters when it was released. I know I'd love the costumes, but it just wasn't my thing (except for the bar scene--which is related to why I liked Bladerunner). My mother took me to every Kurowawa movie that opened in Japantown in SF, including this one. I had a huge crush on Tatsuya Nakadai, one of the actors that often played with Mifune in some of the samurai movies. I need to put Hidden Fortress into the queue now.

fresca said...

Jen: I didn't know that Lucas onjected to Han saying, "I know"! That's the only line in the movies that has any punch!
So I guess I should have guessed it wasn't his, come to think of it.

Momo: Some of the scenes in Star Wars II & III seemed right out of "Bladerunner" to me.
I haven't seen that movie in ages but its sets are burned into my memory.
And even the androids had more humanity than most of Lucas's characters.

I put Hidden Fortress on my Netflix queue too. : )
Kurosawa is so gorgeous--I went to see some retropsective at the Oak St. Cinema a few years go and almost wept at a shot of tiled roofs---the angle and the b&w contrast was so piercing.
Sheesh:
Even Kurosawa's roofs have more appeal than Lucas's characters!

OK, so Lucas sucks at character but he is a total genius at making action interesting--like when Anakin, in flight, uses his fighter pod's wing to scrape 'droids off Obi Wan's flying fighter pod.
This is as good as Scarlett O'Hara's dresses.