Worthwhile Reading

If you haven’t already, read The New Statesman piece about the prequels. Ignore the click bait title obviously meant for provocation…this isn’t about knocking TFA or anything, it’s mostly about the value of the prequels:

Kids too, never noticed – indeed, continue not to notice – the asserted qualitative difference between the trilogies. Because it’s not really there. You’re probably familiar with the concept of the vanity of small differences, and that’s what’s at play here.

Clone Corridor posted another installment of UCL’s Star Wars class about Ewoks, Gungans, Geonosians, and the Noble Savage archetype.

starwars.com posted this a month ago (oops!) but Adam Bray wrote a travelogue on visiting Naboo in autumn.


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29 Responses to “Worthwhile Reading”

  1. Tony Ferris Says:

    FYI, James Smith (author of the above New Statesman piece) confirmed on twitter that the title is not his. Presumably his editor made that choice, as is usually the case.

    He joked that he had suggested the sub-title ‘Anakin in the U.K.’, but that wiser heads had prevailed in that case at least.

  2. Pedro Felipe Says:

    As we get closer and closer to the release, my bad feelings keep intensifing. I have been keeping a close eye on the news and when I heard that George Lucas’s writer was fired for time concerns and JJ saying things in the lines of “we weren’t going fast enought” my concerns spiked. As if this wasn’t enought, recently there was another interview, just take a look at this: “Abrams confirmed that Star Wars creator George Lucas provided outlines for the films before Abrams came on board, but ‘Disney had determined they wanted to go a different direction.'” , and then this’ “That direction was developed over the next six to eight months”, Great, 8 months to develop the basis of 6 new movies by scrapping Lucas’s ideas. But there is more, “Arndt – who Abrams describes as a “precise gentleman” – said he needed 18 months to finish the script. He only had six.”
    “Despite my absolute, burning desire to direct a script that Michael Arndt had written, I realized I didn’t have that time,” Abrams said. “[Lucasfilm President] Kathy [Kennedy] didn’t have that time. Disney didn’t have that time. And so I sat with Larry and I said, ‘Look, there are things about the story that I know are right. And I believe we could actually answer the questions that we still need to be answered if we wrote this together.’”

    “Kasdan…decided he wanted to wipe the slate clean.”

    Mark my words, those haters are about to find out what a bad movie really is.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      I’d been concerned from the get-go that this was going to be a rush job since Lucas usually took years to plot out a trilogy or a story before starting filming. Lucas started writing his first Star Wars outline in 1973; he started with the prequels in 1994. This movie didn’t have a story until two years ago and that was largely due to the slate being wiped twice: first by abandoning Lucas’s storyline and second by dumping Arndt. Disney brass insisted that the film come out in 2015. It’s what shareholders were told and by gum, the CEO has to stick to it. Maybe it won’t make any difference and it’ll come out just fine anyway. Or maybe not. We’ll see very soon!

  3. hansolo1138 Says:

    Um, lazypadawan? Do you have anything to say about Lucas seeing TFA and his remarks on it? Because that’s a subject I’d really like to hear your take on.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      First off, it’s a little…odd…concerning what’s going on with Lucas and his alleged opinions about TFA. There seems to be a lot tap dancing going on although he is going to be at a couple of the premieres. The other thing is, his opinion of TFA isn’t quite on point with the site. I only referred to the Charlie Rose interview because it implicates the prequels had something to do with why Lucas didn’t make Ep VII himself and why Disney didn’t want Lucas cooties on the new flick.

      • hansolo1138 Says:

        I find it somewhat sad that he didn’t outright say he liked the film (Kennedy did that for him. Hmmm.). Instead, he said it’s the film fans “have been looking for.”

      • lazypadawan Says:

        And my immediate reaction was, “I have a bad feeling about this.” Maybe I’m a bitter old cynic who reads too much into things but having read all of those interviews during the prequels era when Lucas said the fans just wanted “The Matrix” or “The Terminator,” I didn’t take that in a good way.

  4. Pedro Felipe Says:

    I want it to be good, but everything indicates it won’t. They are shooting in 35mm film, largely to appease “purist fans”, for example. I know I am about too get a bit tecnical, but no matter how good your camera and lenses are 35mm can at most get near 4K resolution. They should have either gonne with the likes of 6+K digital (As Gareth Edwars is doing for Rogue One) or 60mm if they really wanted to go with film. Make a Star Wars movie with sub-4K resolution in 2015 is just lazy. It was great for 1977-1983, but Star Wars has also always been about great visuals and Special FX. In the near future we will have 6K tvs and we won’t be able to watch these movies in prime quality like we can today the saga thanks to Mr Luclas’s special editions. Lawerence of Arabia was shot in 60mm film! They don’t seem to be thinking about the future, everything indicates shallow, discartable movies. Star Wars movie can’t be generic, it has to be great, you don’t make one great movie each year. As much as I want to believe they could, all the odds are against them. By the way, George Lucas pionnered Digital Filmmaking with the prequels largely because it yields much better compositing special effects. Everything about this movie seems rushed.

  5. Pedro Felipe Says:

    The Phantom Menace was, apart from the Anakin blood midchlorian count test scene, shot in 35mm. The rest of the prequels in about digital 2K resolution, it was the maximum resolution digital could do at the time, thought the quality improved from Attack of The Clones to Revenge of The Sith. Georged traded resolution for other aspects such as more color channels resulting in far superior footage in terms of compositing. Imagine what he would do now with absolutely amazing digital cameras that don’t have to make this tradeoff! 8K, Raw, 16 steps dinamic range, he would be crazy. But no, let’s just shoot with 35mm to appease prequel haters, have less work (Shooting with 60mm requires much more work and passion) and make a sub-4K Star Wars movie in 2015 with less resolution and less color information for compositing work and not great but ok rushed CGI while braging about practical effects.

  6. Natalie Says:

    Agree with what you’re saying Pedro but I think Lucas adopted digital camera a bit too early for AOTC. As a result, AOTC now looks worse than TPM. Still the lack of dedication to the visuals forward in quality is sad and not at all like Star Wars.

    Abrams is an old-school fan and it sounds like he’s doing it for himself, i.e. “what delights him” instead of opening the boundaries of the story and world building like Lucas always did. I’m not sure what Disney is thinking here: the prequels were great at drawing in a new generation of kids, a lot of adults liked them too to some extent and they were popular internationally where OT vs. PT is not a big issue (I’m an international fan myself, so American fandom’s attitude of entitlement was always baffling to me).

    Lucas was also wise to allow other media artists to play in his sandbox, including games, books and TV shows (something that Disney does too, of course).

    The fact that prequels were still liked by kids despite a darker story and a lot of competition from LOTR, Harry Potter, superhero movies, etc. is quite impressive, if you think about it. Lucasfilm under Disney, however, seems to be more interesting to make a movie for hardcore fans many of whom were severely disappointed by the prequels and SEs. And JJ didn’t come up with anything better than to remake ANH (for the second time in his career).

    I’m sure the movie is going to be a hit (it’s Star Wars after all) but I’m not sure it’s a viable strategy for the future (even fans are not that happy with rehashes, if you look at the typical complaints against DSII). The Star Wars Saga 1-6 was the most successful original movie franchise precisely because Lucas wasn’t afraid to take risks storywise and push boundaries of the filmmaking.

    I feel like TFA is going to be an entertaining movie in the vein of the better MCU offerings but it won’t be a great SW chapter (more of a filler / setup for the rest of the trilogy).

    • Stefan Kraft Says:

      (We’re entering off-topic territory here, hopefully LP is okay with this…) I think you provide a good summary of my own thoughts, Natalie. I am even more positive about the reception of the PT.

      I have not seen TFA (obviously). I am also concerned that it will be fun, but not really contribute to the SW mythology. I think the original theme for the third trilogy (as laid out back then in the 70s/80s) was rather philosophic. Who knows whether this was still the case in GL’s story treatments. I would really like to read them (or Arndt’s script, for the matter).

    • Pedro Felipe Says:

      Hello, I too used to think that Lucas had adopted digital too early, mainly because of the resolution tradeoff (no prequels in 4K). But I can’t really know the importance of digital in the making of these movies, specially in compositing. Regarding the prequel bashing marketing campaign, I’ve written elsewhere that I don’t think Disney is making this movie for “hardcore fans” at all, they just want to deceive them into believing it is so. When you look at Disney videos released for the general public(e.g Star Wars Launch Bay) there is prequel references and no prequel bashing at all.

      • andywylde77 Says:

        Yeah all Disney really did was cater too much to a niche group. Because in the long run most people that will watch these new films and that are fans of SW as well don’t really care that this is being shot on film. Or they won’t care that there are practical stunts or creatures in rubber masks. This whole marketing campaign really did show how shallow people within this fandom can really be. Because the most important thing about SW is the story. It doesn’t matter what format the story is told, as long as the story is told.

        I have seen some people in the past year take the whole “practical effects” marketing way too seriously. Some people were “relieved” by the fact that the new storm troopers will be guys in suits. This is the shallowness I was just talking about. If all SW is about guys running around in plastic suits, than those that think that really don’t truly understand what SW is about. It also isn’t about people wearing rubber masks either.

        Though Disney seemed to market heavy for those types, it is a good thing to know that fans that understand SW aren’t like the superficial types that Disney was catering to. People that truly understand the SW universe care about the characters and story first and foremost. Everything else is secondary.

    • Bob Clark Says:

      I agree that AOTC took a hit for being digital. But without the work there, ROTS wouldn’t have looked as good as it did in 2005. Digital filmmaking today would be maybe a decade behind or more. Lucas’ gambit and sacrifice there paved the way for the RED, the Arri Alexa and other groundbreaking digital cameras. Hell, without what Lucas did I doubt that Apple or Samsung etc would bother having 4k video on Goddamn phones, to say nothing of the fact that you can get scope with the Moondog lens.

      Yes, AOTC doesn’t look as good as the other SW films. The tradeoff is that it helped FUCKING DEMOCRATIZE FILMMAKING. But do film geeks care about that? No, they worship at the altar of celluloid, which is prohibitively expensive for 99 percent of everybody. I’d rather see a Star Wars movie shot on a damn phone with an anamorphic lens than see more money wasted pimping 35mm.

  7. andywylde77 Says:

    That title in that article was just typical trash. It may not have been the original intent, but that title is what creates flame wars on the internet. I am really beyond tired of titles like that and others that are similar. The SW films are not in a competition with each other! They are all parts of one big story. I get tired of “this trilogy is better than that trilogy” junk.

    Now this new trilogy will be compared to these 2 now till the end of time. I enjoy all the current movies one in the same. I don’t have an order I put them in or anything like that. They are all awesome to me. I do have my doubts about this new film. But if it turns out good I will enjoy it. I am hoping that is the case. I know the backroom politics that took place for the making of this film were kind of harsh to Lucas and that isn’t cool. But I can’t really take that out on the film itself. I don’t much for Abrams or Kennedy, but I shouldn’t let those feelings hinder my enjoyment of the continuation of SW.

    Though there will be a huge ****storm coming this way in the weeks to come. All the “this movie is better than the entire PT combined” comments will be everywhere no doubt. I have a feeling this movie may possibly be hailed as the “best SW movie ever” by certain people. That is most likely just the hype talking and once that wears down, the new film will find its true place within the SW film archive.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      The author of the piece said he did NOT create or choose the title. Like I said, it was created by an editor looking for clicks, which is unfortunate because the piece made a lot of great points.

      • andywylde77 Says:

        Yeah I realized that after posting my response. I just thought that the title of the piece itself was just a typical run of the mill flame bait. I wasn’t really worrying about WHO actually made the title itself. Just that the title brings out the worst kind of people.

  8. Jim Raynor Says:

    The most heartening part to me was when the writer pointed out that the Prequel generation is growing up and starting to make itself heard, along with links to other pro-Prequel articles.

  9. Falcongunner Says:

    I actually have a copy of James Cooray Smith’s book for Virgin film on George and he writes very well indeed on the prequels. I would recommend it to anyone who’d like to read a well thought out analysis of all of George’s films. He is, by the way, listed as Jim Smith on the cover and my copy is dated 2003 (I don’t know of any reprints)

    • lazypadawan Says:

      I think I have this book, come to think of it!

    • Keith Palmer Says:

      I bought a copy of Jim Smith’s “George Lucas” book in the Virgin Film series not that long after I’d lucked into meeting a group of “saga fans,” and while I did think of it on hearing just who had written this article I never quite got around to mentioning it myself… It is a good book from the general perspective here, although written at a point where an interpretation or two of Attack of the Clones might seem controversial and where the “Episode III” speculation wound up a bit off.

  10. Natalie Says:

    Apparently JJ Abrams has some good things to say about the prequels

    Abrams has some kind words for the Star Wars prequels
”I enjoy the prequels,” he says. “I am a kid of the Seventies whose life was fundamentally impacted by the original films. And one of the reasons that I preferred the original trilogy was that it felt the characters were more everyman or everywoman characters. They felt scrappy and they felt real and lived in, and characters that were essentially nobodies who had to go up against some of the scariest and most intense villains of all time. That, for me, was inherently a more fun trilogy of stories. I felt that the use of technology, the use of design, the world-expanding that George did in the prequels is incredibly impressive. My favorite of the prequels is the third, which has some very powerful moments and some incredible imagery. But I know that when I went into doing The Force Awakens, my goal was to try and make a movie that felt like it was continuing from Return of the Jedi, which it is. As opposed to the significantly different aesthetic that George applied to the prequels, in his remarkable pushing of the boundaries of cinema.”


    • andywylde77 Says:

      One problem with Abrams on this issue of him with the PT is he seems to flip-flop on his opinions of it. One constant thing he does like about the PT is the technology and world building like stated above. That is always something he complimented on. But he needs to understand that even though the new film is a continuation of the OT, the whole story of SW needs to be taken into account.

      But I seen somewhere that the word Sith probably won’t be used in this movie. I find that weird considering that Kylo Ren is a Vader fanboy and Vader is a Sith. I believe that they don’t want to use the word Sith because it is “too related to the PT” Well I really like to see how they will have a villain that is a Vader fanboy and not acknowledge Vader being a Sith?

    • lazypadawan Says:

      Don’t spam the same things in different posts.

  11. Pedro Felipe Says:

    Really nice to see Jar Jar, sorry JJ not joining the prequel hate bandwagon. Conforting after seeing Adam Driver’s interview in which he treated the prequels as if they were garbadge.

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