Sunday, May 27, 2007

Star Wars is 30

One of the best movie going experiences of my life was in 1986 when I went with friends to the mighty University theatre to watch a 70 mm triple bill of the Star Wars trilogy. To be able to watch the whole thing in a seven hour stretch on a massive scale in a movie palace...

When Attack of the Clones came out, I saw it in similar optimum conditions, at Mann's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, in state-of-the-art digital projection. When the film was over it was like being released from eye-and-ear jail. I literally had to hustle down to the washroom to rinse the sting out of my eyes. I would say this would be the main comment one can make about the modern trilogy; can you imagine sitting down and watching the whole thing in one shot?

I didn't like much about the new trilogy - there was a part in The Phantom Menace where repair droids were being picked off the wings of escaping fightercraft like tin cans that had the exact zip of what's good about these films but that was only one moment. They lost me when they had that chariot race with sportscaster commentary. It depressed me to think the Star Wars universe had ESPN. And the second film had a fucking fifties diner in it - Lucas referencing American Graffiti no doubt, but the first thing I thought of was Wowsville from Ghost World. The third film was actually the place where they should have started the trilogy. But the problem with all three, beyond the fact that they take the mythology of the original films so seriously, is that they are each basically inert - soundstage-bound actors reading ponderous dialogue in front of greenscreens later to be filled in with Maxfield Parrish futureworlds. During the third film especially I would often tune out from the blather about trade tariffs and start following the paths of the little spaceships cruising through the negative space on the screen.

They've done a crap job with the original trilogy on DVD - Lucas digitally messed with them to line them up with the modern trilogy - right down to sticking Hayden Christensen next to Alec Guinness at the end of Return of the Jedi. If you want the original versions you can get them as 'bonus discs' in the messed-with versions, mastered for laserdisc in the early nineties and in a non-anamorphic state. When he acknowledges their place in film history and quits this perverse attitude towards his provenance I would pick them up - and he would get bonus points if he threw in a remastered copy of The Star Wars Holiday Special.

Favourite Characters
Han Solo - though when I saw the films again as an adult he seemed like a jock from Chicago who bullied Princess Leia into falling for him. And he was never the same after being frozen.
Lobot - whenever I see a bald guy with a bluetooth on I think of him.
Boba Fett - though I liked him better when he didn't have a Kiwi accent (Lucas had him redubbed in the special editions with the guy who played his dad in Clones).
Lando Calrissian - the black Armenian.
Darth Vader - he knew how to make an entrance.

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