Sunday, May 01, 2005


A Dissenting Opinion

Via Locus online, I found Henry Fountain's article "Episode VII: Revenge of the Writers" on the New York Times website, in which writers such as Richard K. Morgan, Ursula K. Le Guin, Larry Niven, and Ray Bradbury respond to the basic question, "What is wrong with Star Wars?" Their answers, all well-considered and reasonable, are the same sorts of things science fiction folks have been saying for years. Star Wars(taking the franchise as a whole) preaches an overly simplistic, archaic morality; it sacrifices character development for special effects and gimcrackery; the "science" in this supposed science fiction is nonexistent; and, most damning, Ewoks suck.

All of which, I am quick to admit, are true. And it may just be the fact that I am a child of the seventies, and saw the first film in the series at precisely the right age (I was six, going on seven, when "Episode IV," as it was later called, debuted); or it may be that my tastes are rather simple and plebian, which is also quite likely true; but goddamnit, despite all its obvious flaws, I love Star Wars. Even a piece of dubious fluff like The Phantom Menace was redeemed for me in the final moments with some great jedi fu. Put some John Williams swelling strings under some quick cuts of guys with light sabers, or implausible dog fights in zero gee, and I'm sold. And in the hands of a more stylistic and (arguably) skilled storyteller like Genndy Tartakofsky (ie. the "Clone Wars" animated shorts), the material actually approaches the level of art.

I've got high hopes for the forthcoming live action series. And I think Tartakofsky might be doing some more animated work, which would be splendid. I don't know that I have high hopes for "Episode VI," but hell, I'll go see it anyway. It'll have all the narrative ills and philosphical and moral pitfalls of every other installment to date, but it'll also have a John Williams score, dog fights in zero-gee, and light saber fu. So I'm sure I'll find something to enjoy.

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