Wednesday, June 22, 2005
STAR WARS III
As everybody reading this already knows, Star Wars III, the Revenge of the Sith is either the best Star Wars flick in many years or, according to some, the best Star Wars film ever. Also, I suspect, most of the people reading this have already seen the film and have their own opinions. Continuing with information everyone knows, the first film was #4, there were supposed to be 9 of them. But after 5 & 6, and 1 & 2 and now 3, Lucas bailed on the final trilogy.
I have just a few extra thoughts. Star Wars is a remarkable cultural event. It spans almost 30 earth years of our lives. It is a coherent story, six movies -- or 12 hours -- long. Each episode broke new ground in special effects. One must, when talking about culture, include important stories told in the form of movies, and this is rich, powerful story-telling and myth-building.
Although there is very little -- despite claims that III contains anti-Bush remarks -- contemporary politics in Star Wars, a story of such scope and power is likely to resonate with many issues and events as we become more and more technological. (It was a nice touch that Lucas declares this story happened "long, long ago" in a galaxy far, far away. It insulates the film from a 1984 like countdown to some specific future point.)
One of the most important elements that makes #3 fun, I think, is how beautifully it fills in the missing pieces in the whole story, like the last piece in a gigantic jig-saw puzzle.
What makes it such an interesting film is that, unlike most popular entertainments, it is a tragedy. Like a Greek epic, it describes the fall of a potentially great man. It contains the terrible irony that by trying to protect what he most loves, he destroys it.
Normally, a story like that would be box-office poison. The brilliance of the method by which this 6 piece epic was constructed, is that by making the most distrubing film appear in the middle of a larger story which ends well, Lucas is able to write a tragedy with a happy ending, without resorting to any deus ex machina.