Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Understanding Star Wars
Last week I went to the theater to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was quite an eerie experience for a Tuesday afternoon. We were the only ones in the movie theater. There were no ushers. We were barraged by 30 minutes of movie previews. In 3D no less. Not interested in any of them. Finally 2 other movie viewers appeared. And at last, the reason why we came, began...with great familiarity. Excitement ran up and down my spine in anticipation of what has happened to our heroes.
I am a Star Wars fan, but became hesitant to attend this movie when I found out that George Lucas didn't have a part in the writing of the script. As much as I didn't like movies 1-3, it did explain the previously seen movies 4-6. After all, 4-6 are supposed to be our heroes anyway. They are the centerpoint to the story. They were the first ones we connected with. I'll never forget the first time I saw Star Wars in September 1977, four months after the premiere. My family and I attended together to celebrate my brother's birthday. We excitedly stood in line for about 30 minutes to await those now infamous words of the prologue that scroll across the screen followed by the action of space ships and the entrance of our future heroes. Luke. Leia. Han Solo. Chewbacca. R2D2. C3PO. We loved every moment. All future Christmas and birthday gifts for my brother became....Star Wars related. Oh yes. We were hooked!
Despite my concerns for The Force Awakens, the old excitement quickly returned once the scrolling words of the prologue faded away to the action of flying space ships and good fighting against evil. Even while introducing new scenes and characters there were enough connections to our old favorites that the story was beginning to flow. Luke Skywalker's helmet. The Millennium Falcon. Han Solo and Chewbacca. Failing engine parts on the Millenium Falcon. Luke's lightsaber. Princess Leia. C3PO. R2D2. Luke Skywalker.
There was enough mystery...enough hints...to pull us back for a future movie 8. Surely more will be revealed as to the connections in the next movie.
We thoroughly enjoyed The Force Awakens. Like old times we had scary moments, horrifying moments, anticipation, excitement, fun, laughter, and sadness. Yet, something was missing. This movie was the first in the set of 7 that did not have the George Lucas touch. He sold everything to Disney years ago. Although Lucas gave Disney his ideas, they were not used. The production team said the fans wouldn't like Lucas' ideas, so they gave fans what they wanted and wrote an entirely different script from what Lucas envisioned.
I can't help but wonder...what would the story have been if George Lucas' ideas were used? I know movies 1-3 weren't as popular as movies 4-6. Also critics complain that the Star Wars movies are different from other movies. Instead of completely original story lines, they argue, the Star Wars movies keep repeating themselves. What if I suggested there was a reason for that? What if there was a brilliant plan in the connections? What if I told you that George Lucas had an ingenious plan that hearkens back to ancient works?
I saw an interview with Lucas once, who explained some of these concepts. After the making of movies 4-6 he explained that the Star Wars story is meant to be 3 different trilogies...basically 9 parts of one large book. Nine separate stories that can stand alone, yet when viewed as a whole, a larger tale is told. Hmmm, this is reminding me of some ancient epics.
Those who study poetry understand rhyme scheme. We all enjoy rhymes because of the the lilt of the rhythm. The first 6 movies of Star Wars work like a rhyme scheme. If we were to analyze the story frame of the first 3 movies, we'd find that each one has something in common with one of the movies in the second set of 3 movies. Have you ever noticed that? Read this article for a thorough explanation. In short the author illustrates the comparisons as a rhyme scheme. In this case, the Star Wars rhyme scheme for the first 6 movies would be ABC CBA. In other words, movie 1 relates to movie 6. Movie 2 relates to movie 5. Movie 3 relates to movie 4. Have you ever noticed. Do read this article where they explain details. According to the article, this is called, The Ring Theory. And I think it's genius!
Thus, as much as I liked movie 7...as much FUN it was to return to adventures on the Millinium Falcon with favorite heroes...and as much as I enjoyed the story beginning to tie in the new cast members...what *did* we miss without the George Lucas touch? What depth was lost? How would movies 7-9 have factored in to The Ring Theory?
I've read rumors that Disney, which now owns the rights to Star Wars, will have multiple sequels, ad infinitum. I'm predicting that with Disney at the helm, the movies may indeed by fun, but I think they will now chart a linear path, just like everyone else. Ho hum.
Nor am I sure that I'm interested in ad infinitum for Star Wars, as much as I love the story. At some point it will become boring. However when I first heard the aforementioned George Lucas interview, I was intrigued about a 9 part story, that told little stories within a greater story. It would have been 3 trilogies set within a trilogy. Imagine 9 separate stories, with each set of 3 telling their own unique story, with them all combining and reinforcing each other to tell a greater story...of anger v forgiveness. After all, that has been the theme in these first 7 movies. The dark side v the light side which we learned as the second trilogy developed, and which the first trilogy reinforced. Anger v forgiveness is a conflict with which we can all relate. This is what makes the story classic, compelling it to transcend across time.
Powerful. Dramatic. Memorable. Fun. Yet we understand it more deeply when we see the relationship of the 9 to the 3 to the 1.
Check this page, at the bottom, where this website that I keep linking states that Lucas has never talked about Ring Theory. Perhaps not, but I do remember him talking about aspects of this in an interview I used to own. Perhaps I still own it. I need to dig around a bit more. Nevertheless, Mike Kilmo's website certainly helped me understand Star Wars, taking me to a deeper level!