Saturday, June 1, 2013

Star wars prequels a rebuttal of a rebuttal

The fact people still try to defend the prequels is the most disappointing thing since ...well I could rip off plinket but that would be silly 

A friend of mine opened up some George Lucas Apologism Exhibit A ; 

Exhibit B   Exhibit C

So I want to address some of these points and why they are just awful

This is a trilogy of movies that opens with a kid who just wants to help, and ends with him reduced to a literal shell of the man he could have been. It shows a republic — no, THE Republic — losing sight of what it stood for in the first place and becoming an empire — no, THE Empire. It’s the story of keepers of peace who give themselves over to war. It shines new light on places we’ve been, and takes us to places we’ve never seen before.

And it dovetails narratively with an iconic film trilogy that was made thirty years ago with surprisingly little complaint.

Look I have used Joseph Campbell as much as the next guy to start off with Iconic Monomyths. But when I new that I was B-Sing the professor (and I usually did that with the professor who would buy that sort of a game plan)

The Prequels as Monomyth:

We see Paralleled the rise of Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance. At the end of the first trilogy Luke and the plucky rebels (with the help of the cute teddy bears) defeated the empire, healed their family, and restored the rightness of the universe. He also healed the Jedi order by using his feelings for good (instead of evil).

So the same sort of game plan is involved in the Prequel Trilogy : The prequals are about the fall of the tragic hero (and we know that tragic hero was one Anakin Skywalker). So what does a Fall of the Tragic Hero Saga look like when done correctly? Wikipedia tells the tale

Oedipus was born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta. In the most well-known version of the myth, Laius wished to thwart a prophecy saying that his child would grow up to murder his father. Thus, he fastened the infant's feet together with a large pin and left him to die on a mountainside. The baby was found on Kithairon by shepherds and raised by King Polybus and Queen Merope in the city of Corinth. Oedipus learned from the oracle at Delphi of the prophecy, but believing he was fated to murder Polybus and marry Merope he left Corinth. Heading to Thebes, Oedipus met an older man in a chariot coming the other way on a narrow road. The two quarreled over who should give way, which resulted in Oedipus killing the stranger and continuing on to Thebes. He found that the king of the city (Laius) had been recently killed and that the city was at the mercy of the Sphinx. Oedipus answered the monster's riddle correctly, defeating it and winning the throne of the dead king and the hand in marriage of the king's widow, his mother, Jocasta.

Oedipus and Jocasta had two sons (Eteocles and Polynices) and two daughters (Antigone and Ismene). In his search to determine who killed Laius (and thus end a plague on Thebes), Oedipus discovered it was he who had killed the late king: his father. Jocasta also soon realized that she had married her own son and Laius's murderer, and she hung herself. Oedipus seized a pin from her dress and blinded himself with it. Oedipus was driven into exile, accompanied by Antigone and Ismene. After years of wandering, he arrived in Athens, where he found refuge in a grove of trees called Colonus. By this time, warring factions in Thebes wished him to return to that city, believing that his body would bring it luck. However, Oedipus died at Colonus, and the presence of his grave there was said to bring good fortune to Athens.

We see the hint of danger (a prophecy gone wrong) we see a hero rise, slay a king (which was the old hero) defeat the great monster become a BDH, become the king, marry the queen, and have kids

But the twist isn't a twist. We watch Oedepius become a bigger hero only to see him fall and fall hard.

We wanted Oedipus to rise high and we wanted him brought low. At the end when he plucks out his eyes (LOL, Spoilers)

Using Wikipedia again (because its easy to use)

Catharsis (from the Greek κάθαρσις katharsis meaning "purification" or "cleansing") refers to the purification and purgation of emotions—especially pity and fear—through art[1] or to any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration.[2][3] It is a metaphor originally used by Aristotle in the Poetics to describe the effects of tragedy on the spectator.[4][5]

So the fall of Anakin Skywalker needs to promote a sense of pity and fear (or an extreme of emotion) and we need to feel a sense of being purged from it. In seeing this change in Anakin we need to be changed through his experience

The fall of the Republic and Rise of the empire flows along a similar line at the saga of atlantis

"For many generations, as long as the divine nature lasted in them, they were obedient to the laws, and well-affectioned towards the god, whose seed they were; for they possessed true and in every way great spirits, uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life, and in their intercourse with one another. They despised everything but virtue, caring little for their present state of life, and thinking lightly of the possession of gold and other property, which seemed only a burden to them; neither were they intoxicated by luxury; nor did wealth deprive them of their self-control; but they were sober, and saw clearly that all these goods are increased by virtue and friendship with one another, whereas by too great regard and respect for them, they are lost and friendship with them."


"...when the divine portion began to fade away, and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture, and the human nature got the upper hand, they then, being unable to bear their fortune, behaved unseemly, and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased, for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts; but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness, they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power."

While George did not have the ability, in the story, to show the empire at its height. We could see the grandeur of the Republic. Not to throw CGI at the screen but to show its greatness, and how that greatness was falling into disorder. And then Palpatine is the inevitable fall caused by the worst of human nature.

What ties these two together? The Jedi Order. The Jedi Order is viewed as almost mythic by the people in the Original Trilogy, and Luke's defeat of the dark side is about embracing attachment, and rejecting the Jedi's views on emotional attachment.

So: The Republic fell because its guardians of order became so detached from the people that they were viewed almost as mythical figures, and Anakin Skywalker fell because he was unable to be a detached Jedi

This is a simple and Mythic Story. This simple story even allows much of the "Story" lucas created to have a richness. The Civil War draws from the fact that the Jedi have been detached from the politics of the Republic. Which allows a simple trade dispute to spiral out of control into a Civil War.

The Republic to keep itself from being destroyed clones a Mandalorian, one of the greatest enemies of the republic, to save it. This is the tragic moment in the fall of the republic. That was when the soul of the republic became possessed of the Dark Side.

To go along with something my friend said in his moment of being wrong on the internet.

George Lucas broke new cinematic ground in each of them, told a complex literary story

What made the Prequels less mythic then the Original trilogies is they were complex, they were cluttered, and did not allow the mind to fill out the universe.

Its why we see Romeo and Juliet retold again and again (and Romeo and Juliet was itself a retelling of an older story).

The Complexity takes away from the story lucas wants to tell. We cannot focus on the Fall of Anakin Skywalker, we cannot focus on the collapse of the republic, we cannot focus on the Jedi as an institution that is so detached from the galaxy that it is unable to see the rise of the sith, and unable to see the Dark Lord of the Sith destroying the Jedi Order and taking control of the Republic. Because we have to see the secret origin of Bobba Fett and R2d2 and c3po, and darth sideous we cannot focus on the larger parts of the story. Because we have to have a storyline about the Gungans and the Naboo being out of balance and coming into balance to restore their planet (which doesn't go anywhere) we can't focus on the heart and soul of the story. We have three throw away villians (Dooku, Maul, and Grievous) we can't focus on the heart and soul of the movie.

I am not going to go into the numerous problems with the story. The problems with the story come down to the fact George Lucas doesn't know the story he is supposed to be telling. Instead of focusing on creating a new monomyth he is focused on telling "Star Wars: The authoritative origin story." Thats why the Prequel Trilogies are such disappointing stories. They don't really go anywhere but check off a list of fan service and tell the story that George is Interested in telling (but is not interesting at all).

George wants to show a republic declining into Tyranny and such themes were present in the original Star Wars focusing on the 60s and 70s. But the problem is just as the Jedi should be detached and disconnected from the world, George Lucas is disconnected. He focuses on Tax policies and militarism but he does so without attaching any humanity to the struggle. And without the humanity in the story no one has a reason to care. The same struggles existed in the original trilogy but were humanized by the characters you cared about.

Beyond the fact that the story is disjointed, and isn't creating the monomyth that Lucas wants to establish, the story fails because it doesn't have characters anyone would care about beyond those you care about due to a nostalgia for the old movies.

Thats where the complexity of Lucas fails, and with it the movies: A bad story which goes in the wrong direction, thats cluttered up with unnecessary material designed for no other purpose then fan service, with uninteresting characters.

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