Wednesday, December 26, 2012
In 1977 the unprecedented success of Star Wars inspired the scholar Joseph Campbell to claim George Lucas was the best student he ever had. Thirty years later the only serious approach to Star Wars remains Campbell's, but that "archetypal" frame occlude more than it reveals. How many more scifi movies do we need to see about the "One" before filmmakers look back and reconsider what else it was that audiences were so excited to watch? Perhaps millions of us stood in line (some of us repeatedly) to see a a very particular victory. Star Wars didn't "mythologized" an ancient threat, it defamiliarized a threat that was all-too-familiar: the threat that American Cold Warriors posed to American freedoms, but also the threat those rock ribbed "dark fathers" posed to American's sense of themselves as a people. Americans do not want to suck, but in the waning years of the 1970s, it was not unreasonable to believe that that is exactly what was happening.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Opening, Star Wars (1977); Ken Ohyama, Interchange (2007)
What could be more shocking that seeing Luke Skywalker don Vader's helmet? The opportunity of Episode IV, is to revisit the shock that the original opening shot delivered to audiences in 1977. The equivalent of an endlessly huge Star Destroyer passing directly overhead. Although they had never seen anything like it, that was an image audiences were prepared to understand. While the huge scale and crystalline shape of that first Star Destroyer was mind-blowingly new, it was encrusted in white machine parts in the familiar style of a "2001-type spaceship." Lucas had morphed the look of Stanley Kubrick's spindly NASA futurism into an "overwhelming show of force." Immediately following the Episode VII opening text crawl, what at first appears to be the traditional background of star flecked outer space, should be revealed to be the reflection in a filthy puddle. As the shot climbs the audience will understand that we are looking up from the lowest depths Coruscant, the city-planet explored in the Prequels. But unlike the Prequels, the art deco towers we saw in the Episode I, II, and III, are now dwarfed by layered canopy of intersecting mega-structures. And the reflected stars are the flickering tiny lights of the megastucture's darkened under sided.