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Thoughts On Star Wars (The Actual Movie)
There is not much to this film.
Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn save Rapunzel from Dr. Doom, and then blow up Witch Mountain.
Tobacco the Space Monkey co-stars.
One of my favorite themes is the inability to see anything for the first time again, and Star Wars is a better example than the Dead: years of nostalgia, revisionist nonsense, and of course the dreaded Prequels stick to the simple story like burrs on a sweater.
Rewatching Star Wars–again: none of this Episode IV bullshit, for reasons I’m about to get into–makes it painfully clear that George Lucas was making it all up as he went: in the reality of the first movie, Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker were different people, Luke and Leia were not brother and sister, and Vader was not the most important guy in the galaxy.
Vader gets scolded.
In the meeting scene, he only stops Force-choking the guy because Tarkin tells him to knock it off.
Tarkin refers to it as “bickering,” which is only slightly less demeaning than “horseplay.”
“Hey, guys: knock it off with the grabass, huh?”
He’s the muscle, not Space Jesus.
There is also absolutely no way to square what Obi-Wan Kenobi says in the first film to what is revealed in the second and third, let alone the Prequels.
When he says that “point of view” bullshit in Jedi, the point of view he is referring to is that of a man who did not realize how much money he was about to make.
Lucas also did not know Luke and Leia were twins, hence the scene between Han and Luke where they argue about which one of them gets to bone her.
Ah, you’ll say: Luke didn’t know he was Leia’s brother, so it would have been natural for a young man to be attracted to a princess in a moo-moo.
Yes, but I’ll remind you: these aren’t actual people. Someone wrote a story, and if you have two characters that discover they’re related in a story, then you don’t make them tongue-kiss in the first act.
Unless that’s the whole story.
You don’t have just a little bit of incest: either it’s all about incest, or there’s no incest at all.
In Luke’s defense: Leia is the only woman in the galaxy who is not his aunt.
Even a farmboy’s got needs.
I have the 2004 Special Edition DVD version and it is jammed full with all of that bearded twit’s OCD bullshit: there are ronto lizards and womp rats; it’s the special effects version of when Pizza Hut figured out they could jam cheese into shit.
Things were done just because they could be.
The final space battle is actually improved by the CG, but every other decision that is not cleaning up cheap-looking shots is a poor one.
Two entire scenes are added back in: Jabba threatening Han on Tatooine, and Luke talking to Biggs before the Death Star assault.
In fact, these two scenes may be pieces of evidence A and B in the case against George Lucas as a filmmaker, and they existed before the Prequels; they were added in ’97 for the re-releases.
The Biggs scene is a more minor error, but perhaps more telling.
The two old friends hug under an X-Wing, and then a space-sargeant asks whether Luke is ready for this; Biggs vouches for Luke’s skill.
I often lambast movies for neglecting the “nuke it from orbit” line.
In Aliens, the Space Marines ask why they can’t take off and destroy the xenomorph-infested facility from the safety of the ship, and Burke tells them the Company won’t authorize the nukes and he doesn’t have the authority to launch them.
You can handwave some things away with a good line, but some other plot holes need to be ignored, i.e. the fact that Luke has been given the equivalent of an F-16 with absolutely no training.
How long has he even been in the Rebellion?
He probably doesn’t even know everybody’s name yet, and they give him a jet fighter and a helmet and an encouraging slap on the ass.
“Biggs says you’re a crack shot, and that’s good enough for us. You start it with that button and you launch the missiles with this one. Go get ’em, tiger.”
A movie that tells its story through symbols, design, action, and music should not have scenes explaining things, especially when the things they are explaining are inexplicable.
Just strap the pretty kid in the fast car and it’s time for the third act: I, as a viewer, am fine with that.
Speaking of: Mark Hamill was a pretty little man in 1977 and gives credence to what I have termed the Bobby Hypothesis, which is that the physically attractive can make almost any clothing look good.
Shlubs have to be careful, but if you looked like Luke, you could pull off the tunic-and-beige-leggings look.
Back to the added scenes: the first one is the Jabba scene, and everything about it is the worst thing about it – the idea, the execution, the inclusion, the fan service.
Star Wars fans have known about this scene forever: Lucas filmed it with a big fat Scottish guy in a furry vest and figured he’d pop in a creature later.
The idea is bad because the scene is virtually line-for-line with the previous scene with Han and Greedo, and I am not going to talk about the thing you think I am going to talk about, because when I talk about that thing, I black out for a little while and wake up covered in blood and feathers.
The execution is shoddy: this was released in 2004–after the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy had been released, which featured a photorealistic Gollum.
Remember how good Gollum looked?
Now look at this:
Look at that bullshit.
Look at that bullshit right there.
I could not tell you which one was “better” of the two: they both look like pre-loaded characters in Star Wars movie-maker software for children.
Like, you pick your characters and your setting, and then type in the dialogue, and the computer makes a little movie for you.
Neither of them look like professional, plus there’s this dumb bit: in the original blocking, Han walks behind the guy in the vest, so now he walks behind Jabba and steps on his tail and Jabba goes “WAAAAGH!” and bugs out his eyes.
Which slightly reduces him as a villain, dontcha think?
Like I said: this is Exhibit A in the Case against George Lucas.
He has been trying to jam this scene–this scene that serves no purpose and has always looked like shit–into this movie since 1977, and the second he was free of anyone with the ability to say “no” to him, he got his way.
Lots of people have a hand in the original Star Wars, among them Brian DePalma, who worked on the edit without credit. Did he cut this? Did Alan Ladd, Jr., the 20th Century exec and Hollywood big-shot who championed the film, demand it gone?
What we do know is that in 1997, Brian DePalma was in movie jail, Laddy was dead, and George Lucas was a billionaire, and therefore right.
So, Han and Cartoon Jabba discuss the fact that Han owes money and dumps his freight, yadda yadda, and then the scene is over and the players exeunt and HEY! it’s Boba Fett and as he’s leaving, he pauses to–I swear–look at the camera and wink.
You can’t see it because of the helmet, but he is winking.
Anyway, if film is a visual medium, then Star Wars is a masterpiece in that it can be perfectly understood without the dialogue, although to remove John Williams’ score would be to ruin the film.