3 Things- Star Wars Movie Marathon Edition

by - Sunday, February 24, 2013

1. That the original trilogy is really an ensemble movie- You know what really helps a movie? Having actual characters. Part of what make the original trilogy feel so fresh is that it doesn't fall into the old fantasy/sci-fi trap where the characters are all plot devices. Nobody has strong motivations or personalities, and everyone pretty much does whatever the story needs them to do next, and that's it (See: Lost at its worst). These people mostly have distinct personalities (with humor, even!) and part of the pleasure of the movies is seeing the group coming together and pulling apart. Watching them interact with each other (that's where the humor comes from).

 Episodes 1 through 3, no one has a strong personality, and everybody is taking themselves way too seriously (the closest we get in Ewan McGregor's Obi-wan). Who is Padme? I am pretty sure a coatrack for the world's least thoughtful costumes ever. Anakin is too arrogant and evil from the start, so when Padme says "oh you've changed" at the end, mostly, he hadn't. You hear about how he was such a good man in conversations with Luke later, but we never really see this time!! Everyone else is just a face, and the wooden, pedantic dialogue robs everyone from the chance to really perform or show a character. You really feel this in the second half of the third movie, when the tragedy would be much more biting if you had any idea who these Jedi are or why we like them.

2.The stark difference between Amidala and Anakin's romance and Han and Leia's- This is the heart of the narrative problems in the new movies. A and A's romance has to be one of the worst written, directed, and performed movie romances of all time. Lucas didn't trust his actors to act (and hired two of the worst ever to prove him right), so they never actually show any passion, chemistry, or connection. Instead, they woodenly recite long monologues about their love. It is the worst. (Just compare to Han and Leia, who say more with 2 lines than A and A manage through 2 movies).

 More importantly, this romance is supposed to be Anakin's motivation for turning to the dark side. But we never see the love between them. In other high danger sequences, he pretty much abandons her and never calls out to her or checks on her (or vice versa). Then, after essentially selling his soul to the devil for her, he chokes her and leaves her to die on the self--destructing lava planet.

What the hell?

The romance doesn't work on the performance level, but worse is that the film never sells their bond as a legitimate motivation for his actions. They also just don't sell his investment. I think they could have taken that further, made him look a little more charismatic/sociopathic so it was more about ownership than love, but they would need an actual actor to make that work.

Also, I have said it before, and I could say it another million times- I will never understand how Leia is supposed to be the daughter of Amidala, who is the saddest excuse for a "strong woman" ever. She starts as a (pretty impotent) queen, becomes a senator willing to throw everything away for the most emo rat-tailed dousheface in the world, and by the final film is too busy being pregnant and pining to do anything else. She is never funny, or interesting, or useful. She is the worst.

3. The simple art directing in 4-6- 1-3 features some of the WORST art directing I have ever seen in a movie. This is not an empty claim- I really mean it. Basically, it feels like Lucas wrote a very long list of all the things that might be cool, and no one asked, yes but does it make sense. If Anakin is supposed to be oscillating between the good and bad, why is he wearing a black leather costume through 2 movies? Why would they have a final battle on a planet covered in lava? Why aren't they even sweating? Why do we have 47 different aesthetics going on at once, some of which are clearly derivative of historical aesthetic styles? Why are the costumes both ridiculously heavy-handed and kind of vague?

4. Why is space travel so much faster in Episodes 1 through 3?? Watching them the whole way through, you realize there are barely any cozy spaceship scenes early on.

5. Binks in a blanket, Obi-wan Kabobies, and Yodamole- Star Wars themed snacks are the best. I am weirdly sad that themed snacks are over, and now we are back to regular snacks. Yesterday, we snacked so much that we didn't even have dinner.

6. The the Boy thinks its fun to read Wookiepedia while watching the Star Wars movies- for HOURS. It's so nerdy and so cute.

7. Lando Calrician's shoes and his henchmen's hats- How did I never notice those guys were total dandies!?!? I enjoyed the 70's style.

8. Nesting days- There is simple joy in knowing you don't have to leave the apartment for the whole day. And for as much as I complain about how shitty the first three episodes are (they are seriously WORSE than I remembered, and that is saying something), it was fun to debate all of those things with the Boy and to see some of the ways they do add to the meaning of Episodes 4-6.

9. Chewbacca- Probably my favorite character. Just the cutest.

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