Wednesday, September 20, 2023

What did Ahsoka know about Anakin | Why we still watch Star Wars?

I will swear to my dying breath that The Last Jedi is an entertaining movie because I found it entertaining. In the same way, I find the Ahsoka series entertaining despite some of my friends saying it is stupid and boring. (Having watched The Clone Wars and Rebels, I am more invested in these characters than they are.)

The Last Jedi has some brief cringe-worthy dialog, but this didn't bother me because the story overall is pretty good. 

I think that the problem with The Last Jedi for most people is the image of Luke as a lightsaber-holding madman about to kill his nephew. However, this image was from Kylo-Ren's perspective. We get a milder version of Luke from his own perspective. This follows the Rashomon idea of telling the same story from different perspectives. 

 Maybe people who hate The Last Jedi after just one viewing would hate it less after watching it a second time.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Star Wars in a historical context

To put Star Wars in context, in 1977 I was 17 years old.  We were living during the Cold War, where the Soviet Union could be viewed as the Evil Empire, while the fight against the Nazis during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War didn't seem like ancient history, but were still relevant in our minds.  The thought of nuclear annihilation also felt like a very real possibility.

We were going through the worst economic decade of my lifetime.  Some people might look at the events that followed 2008 as being the worst, but the American economy was much more robust in 2008 and able to eventually rebound.  However, the 1970s were just one piece of bad news after another.  The country felt like it was in a giant malaise.

Then came Star Wars in 1977, which to my 17-year-old mind felt like a godsend.  It was a metaphor for a hopeful battle against all the evils that plagued us.

Star Wars became an important part of my life, and it influenced my career toward computers and video game development.  To this day, Star Wars feels like a part of my personality.

At my more advanced age of 63, I notice how violent Star Wars is.  This didn't seem like much of an issue in 1977 when the characters were fighting Space Nazis, because the 1970s felt like an existential struggle against the forces of evil.  For example, Star Wars calls light sabers an elegant weapon, but how elegant is cutting people in half or cutting their heads off?  It would be like calling a battle axe an elegant weapon.

All this makes me wonder how relevant Star Wars is to our current time?  The 20th century was by far the most violent in history, which made mechanized murder on a mass scale feel more normal.  I think that there was less regard for the individual, which is something we take to extreme levels today.

I feel far less threatened by outside forces today than I did after 9-11, or in the 60s, the 70s, and the 80s.

We can still fantasize about a struggle for survival between good and evil, but good and evil in the modern world are less distinct from one another.

This makes me think that Star Wars has to change to remain relevant.  The original movie gave us 1970s characters in a futuristic setting.  The recent series Andor did a great job of giving us modern characters in the same setting and feels more relevant to the time we live in.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Why Modern Movies Suck - Nobody Can Stay Dead!

Friday, September 1, 2023

What A Lightsaber Would REALLY Do To You

Futuristic Movie timeline

The Empire Strikes Back

It is, and will likely remain, my favorite movie.  

At the time of release, a Louisville news program asked a Louisville newspaper movie critic to rank the film on a scale of 1 to 10.  He gave it an 11.  I think he called it one of the greatest movies ever made.

I had heard that Lucas was angry with either the director or the producer for making the film too good, believing they could make more money by keeping it under budget.   I am disappointed in Lucas because the final product is a great film.

Alan Ladd was willing to help Lucas with a loan but was later pushed out by Fox for making a bad deal and not getting more money especially after the movie was a huge hit.

You would think that George Lucas would have had all the money in the world at his disposal, but in Return of the Jedi the reason we got a planet of Ewoks instead of Wookies, like Lucas wanted, was because he lacked the funding.   I think that the Wookies would have made a better movie, and later we saw a planet of Wookies in Episode III Revenge of the Sith.  

"Return of the Jedi" was going to called "Revenge of the Jedi", but this was thought to sound too much like "Revenge of Khan", so both movies renamed their titles to avoid any confusion.  It was also thought that "Revenge" was inappropriate for "Jedi".  Recently, the animated Clone Wars series stated, "Revenge is not the Jedi way."  I think that this was a deliberate reference to the movie.

On Fri, Sep 1, 2023 at 8:55 AM Larry wrote:
All of the OT's successes originated from George Lucas. Did you know that the first cut of 'The Empire Strikes Back' was a disaster? Here's what a now deleted article from ScreenRant says, titled '15 Things You Never Knew About The Empire Strikes Back'. Fact #7 was that, you guessed it, "The First Cut Was A Disaster, Requiring Heavy Reshoots". The article then goes on to say "With shooting way behind schedule and costs running out of control on The Empire Strikes Back , George Lucas started to panic. With his entire personal fortune invested in production on Empire , the failure of the movie would mean persona and professional ruin. Shooting wrapped, and Lucas breathed a sigh of relief". That's good, you might say. However, the article continues with: "Then came the disastrous rough cut, which left Marcia Lucas in tears. Lucas exploded, furious with Gary Kurtz and Irvin Kershner at having spent his personal fortune to make a bad movie. Lucas tried reediting the movie himself to no avail. He then decided to film extensive reshoots, reworking the Han/Leia love subplot. That raised the cost of the picture even more, as Lucas had to divert funds from construction of Skywalker Ranch to keep the movie shooting. He also had to approach Fox for a loan, which production executive Alan Ladd, Jr. helped him secure. Ladd would later quit Fox over the loan, when Empire became a runaway hit