Monday, May 02, 2005

Waiting for the Dark Side

Revenge of the Sith comes out May 19. Shock! Horrors! Anakin is Darth Vader! Is there anyone out there who is not looking out for the final chapter of George Lucas’ mythic Star Wars saga?

Of course I share most critics’ views that the spontaneity and fun of Episodes 4, 5, and 6 got lost in the ambitious but super-cool CGIs of The Phantom Menace and The Attack of the Clones. Never mind that the scripts sucked, dialogue was juvenile, child actor Jake Lloyd was more mannequin than Anakin, etc.

I like what Roy M. Anker said in his book Catching Light: Looking for God in the Movies about Lucas' epic. Obviously the director drew inspiration from world religions and mythologies to contruct a metanarrative with an unmistakable pathos for the new millennium. Here's what Anker said of Lucas:
"With studied restraint, he does not go so far as to specify which God he is depicting; but his prime purpose, he says, is to show his audiences what it is like to believe in God.....It is easy to see Lucas trying to construct his own sci-fi versions of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings or C.S. Lewis's protracted fantasy in The Chronicles of Narnia. Some conservative religious people have fretted extensively about supposed "New Age" influence. But it is best to take the series as Lucas intends it: an exploration of what it is like to live amid invisible realities that shape individual lives and that care, radically, for the fate of this whole world."
Peter T. Chattaway in an aside to science fiction author Robert Sawyer defends the relevance of sci-fi and concludes that, "The stories that last, after all, are the ones that transcend their origins." Which is why we should not dismiss the sci-fi genre as so much kiddy fare.

WIRED magazine has an excellent pre-Sith issue documenting the rise and rise of Lucas and wonders if he’s going to let go and explore more edgy, non-narrative stories. Lucas is already an empire to himself and his contribution to cinema – directly or indirectly – is mammoth. It quotes Lucas’ interview on the original Star Wars Trilogy DVD documentary Empire of Dreams (which to my mind is one of the most fascinating accounts of Star Wars lore, and a superb addition to the box set):
"I’m not happy that corporations have taken over the film industry, but now I find myself being the head of a corporation, so there’s a certain irony there. I have become the very thing I am trying to avoid. That is Darth Vader – he becomes the very thing he was trying to protect himself against."

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