Screen Rant: the Star Wars sequels take “far more thematically from the prequels” than from the original trilogy

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From Screen Rant:

“Disney’s Star Wars sequel trilogy is often credited for its original trilogy aesthetic, but it takes far more thematically from the prequels. […]

Star Wars fandom is no stranger to debate, and one of the biggest ones right out the gate with the sequel trilogy was the perception that it was actually ignoring the prequels for the sake of original trilogy nostalgia, and while it’s true that, to an extent, the sequels look more like the original trilogy, thematically they harken back to the more complicated story of the prequels.

When Star Wars first arrived in theaters back in 1977, Lucas drew inspiration from the adventure serials he had enjoyed as a youth, like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. These stories centered on a clear-cut division between good and evil, and it was the universal battle between the two that the original trilogy aims to communicate. The heroes, by and large, wear white and/or bright colors, while the villain is a part-man, part-machine creature in a terrifying black suit. Even the lightsabers are color-coordinated. […]

THE PREQUELS SUBVERTED WHAT AUDIENCES THOUGHT ABOUT THEIR HEROES

Then came the prequels. Suddenly, the badass Jedi-turned-Sith Darth Vader was a peppy little podracer prodigy, and the wisdom and power of the Jedi was ultimately revealed to be mired by arrogance. Blinded by the dark side and their own pride, the Jedi Council — epitomized by Yoda himself — consistently fails to make the right decisions, failing to see that the Dark Lord of the Sith was right under their nose the whole tie, allowing Chancellor Palpatine claim more and more power and ascend to the role of Emperor.

Even Obi-Wan Kenobi is first presented as a pompous padawan learner who doesn’t develop into the hero we know until well into Revenge of the Sith. The entire foundation of righteousness that Obi-Wan and Yoda represent in the original trilogy is recontextualized by the prequels, which aim to shed new light on the characters and explore the truth that led the Republic to its doom and the Jedi to near-extinction at the hands of the Chosen One.

THE DISNEY MOVIES ARE ABOUT PROCESSING AND MOVING ON FROM THE FAILURES OF THE PREQUEL TRILOGY

As you might imagine, that’s exactly what the new films, especially The Last Jedi, are commenting on. Luke himself even points out how the “hypocrisy” and “hubris” of the Jedi played an integral role in creating the Empire, and for this reason, he is convinced that the only way for the galaxy (i.e., the Star Wars saga itself) to survive is for the Jedi to be removed from the equation entirely. Meanwhile, his nephew — the main villain of this trilogy — worships his grandfather’s dark deeds, hoping to restore his greatness unto the galaxy. In a sort of meta-commentary, Kylo Ren could represent the fans who are yearning for the original trilogy, lacking the full context of how Anakin became Vader or why Luke won by throwing his lightsaber, not striking Vader down.

Yoda even reaches forth from the beyond to confess to Luke that “the greatest teacher, failure is.” His entire appearance in The Last Jedi is predicated on a need to let go of the Jedi’s past mistakes, drawing a smooth parallel between his failure to stop Darth Sidious from claiming control of the galaxy and Luke’s failure to recreate the Jedi Order in his own image. Although it remains to be seen how Episode IX will wrap up this thematic throughline, it doesn’t take much scrutiny to reveal the meta-commentary that the sequel trilogy is going for.

RECONCILING THE PAST TRILOGIES SO THAT THE SAGA CAN LIVE ON

While the Disney Star Wars films ultimately condemn not the prequel trilogy itself but the actions of its heroes, they certainly don’t shy away from referencing and incorporating certain elements into the stories they’re trying to tell. Take that Solo villain cameo, for example. In fact, every single one of the four films that Disney has released since taking ownership has included references, cameos and narrative ties to the prequels. You could even say that one of the greatest objectives of the sequel trilogy is the unification of all that has come before, equally legitimizing both trilogies while allowing fans to accept them all and move on.

In The Force Awakens, Maz Kanata discusses the never-ending fight against evil in its many forms, name-checking the Sith, the Empire, and the First Order as various incarnations of the same struggle. Then, of course, there is the philosophical debate between Kylo “Let the past die” Ren and Rey’s desire to salvage what remains of the Jedi, even if all she ultimately saves is the Order’s sacred texts. These two central pillars of the sequel trilogy find themselves in a philosophical quarrel over how to treat the future of the Star Wars galaxy, and no film captures that conversation as much as The Last Jedi.

In that respect, Rian Johnson’s film — and the vitriolic response some fans have had to it — embodies a transitional period for the saga. By bringing back the themes of the prequels and the cast of the original trilogy, the Disney films are tying the whole saga together once and for all. After all, what comes next in the main saga, spinoffs aside, will likely not be beholden to either the original trilogy or the prequels. And it shouldn’t have to. The Star Wars universe is a vast one with infinite storytelling potential. As J.J. Abrams once explained, the purpose of the sequel trilogy is to “reclaim the story,” and that mission is well on its way to being accomplished.”

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Anthony Daniels plays a human slave of Kessel in Solo: A Star Wars Story (UPDATE)

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A previous report mistakenly said that Anthony Daniels was playing a Wookiee in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Here’s the update.

From Uproxx:

“Update: Well, as it turns out, Anthony Daniels role as a Wookiee was short lived. Jonathan Kasdan has emailed us with a correction, which we are posting below. In Solo: A Star Wars Story, Daniels plays a character named Tak (in honor of famed cinematographer Tak Fujimoto) who shares a scene on Kessel with the Wookiees, but Daniels is playing a human and not a Wookiee. Kasdan explains:

“When I was talking about Anthony’s cameo, it was a mistake of my syntax, I think. In the escape from the Kessel Mines, Anthony does not play the Wookiee, Sagwa, but rather his best friend, a human slave who beckons Sagwa, not Chewie, to join his escape route. Sagwa in turn invites Chewie to join Tak and himself. I’m sorry that was confusing, so, to make it up to you, I’m including this screen shot from the script that we wrote when we found out we were going to have Anthony in the movie. He was named Tak in homage to legendary DP Tak Fujimoto. And that’s an exclusive, my friend. I’m not even sure Anthony knows his character’s name.”

And here’s the screenshot from the script that Kasdan sent along (warning, there may be some spoilers in here):”


Anthony Daniels plays C-3PO in the Star Wars saga.

 

Clip: “James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction Master Class: George Lucas”

“George Lucas talks about how Star Wars was influenced by the Vietnam War.”


About James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction:

“From the acclaimed filmmaker behind legendary sci-fi films The TerminatorAliensThe AbyssTerminator 2: Judgment Day and Avatar, this documentary series explores the evolution of sci-fi from its origins as a small genre with a cult following to the blockbuster pop-cultural phenomenon we know today. In each episode, James Cameron introduces one of the “Big Questions” that humankind has contemplated throughout the ages and reaches back into sci-fi’s past to better understand how our favorite films, TV shows, books, and video games were born, Cameron and his contemporaries – Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott and many more who have helped fuel sci-fi’s spectacular growth over the last several decades – debate the merits, meanings, and impacts of the films and novels that influenced them and discuss where the genre — and our species — might be going in the future.”

Remasters of the first 6 Star Wars soundtracks coming May 4

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From StarWars.com:

“Disney Music Group announced today that May 4, a.k.a. Star Wars Day, will see the rerelease of John Williams’ original six Star Wars soundtracks on CD — all remastered, complete with new artwork and a collectible mini-poster. This includes A New Hope (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983), The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005), which feature some of the Williams’ most memorable compositions, including the Star Wars main theme, “Imperial March,” and “Duel of the Fates.” You can get a first look at the covers below!

The soundtracks were reconstructed from new hi-resolution (24/192) transfers supervised by Shawn Murphy and Skywalker Sound […]”

Cancelled Star Wars Battlefront IV art shows dark side Obi-Wan, Jedi Maul and other variations from the saga

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From Eurogamer:

“This fresh gallery of Star Wars art offers a glimpse at what might have been – had British developer Free Radical Design got to make its Star Wars Battlefront 4.

That’s right, Battlefront 4 – which was already in the planning stages when Free Radical’s promising Battlefront 3 project was shut down, all the way back in 2006.

This gallery of concept images reveals a strikingly different approach – a ‘what if?’ scenario where the events of the Star Wars prequels would play out differently.

Anakin would have killed Yoda and murdered Padmé, which would have caused Obi-Wan and then Luke to fall to the dark side. On the flipside, Darth Maul and Count Dooku would have been Jedi. […]”


Check out the whole gallery at imgur.

Video: “George Lucas, an experimental filmmaker? with Mike Klimo”

From Ministry of Cinema:

“Over a year ago, documentary film The Prequels Strike Back challenged viewers with new and interesting perspectives on George Lucas and his controversial prequel trilogy. Now, indie studio Ministry of Cinema is at it again with Exploring Star Wars, a recurring series of videos that dig deeper into the galaxy far, far away.”

/Film: “In Defense of Anakin Skywalker, the Most Unjustly Maligned Star Wars Character”

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From /Film:

“In Defense of Anakin Skywalker, the Most Unjustly Maligned ‘Star Wars’ Character

[…] But I’d like to turn my attention to Darth Vader – or, more specifically, to Anakin Skywalker, the man within the machine – because there is so much more to the character than awkward Naboo picnics and diatribes about sand. And there are so many more Anakin Skywalker-centric stories to digest than the three prequel movies.

So join me, and together we will redeem the image of Anakin Skywalker.

Anakin vs. Ben vs. Vader vs. Kylo

It would be tempting to separate the man from the mask and proclaim that Darth Vader is a more iconic villain than Kylo Ren, while Ben Solo is a more compelling character than Anakin Skywalker. (Which is why The Last Jedi smartly shuns the Kylo Ren mask in order to dive deeper into Ben Solo.) An Empire article that puts Vader at the top of the list of the greatest movie villains of all time tries to do just that, insisting that Vader is an indelible part of pop culture history despite his much maligned backstory, not because of it.

Yet without all of the Anakin Skywalker context, Vader really isn’t much more than the Emperor’s rabid attack dog, to borrow Princess Leia’s phrasing from A New Hope. There is certainly something to be said for a villain that represents pure chaos, but a truly great villain – a character that goes beyond just character, one that also probes the darkest depths of humanity – is able to invoke empathy as well as revulsion and fear. (Think: Killmonger from Black Panther.) If we can understand where a character is coming from, if we can peek into their soul and witness the roiling mass of traumatic emotions and experiences, then we can begin to understand how a person might get to the breaking point – and, terrifyingly, how we might, too.

The Prequels

Allow me to channel Natalie Portman and say something nice about the muthafuckin’ prequels.

To begin with, I’ve never really understood what the big deal is with Jake Lloyd’s performance as young Anakin in The Phantom Menace. That blonde little mophead was goddamn adorable. And a little bit irritating, sure, but have you met a nine-year-old who isn’t? Plus, his interactions with Portman’s Padmé Amidala seem weird in retrospect mostly because our brains are trying to grapple with the Hollywood Time Dilation Theory of aging, which states that female characters age much more slowly than male characters do – Anakin ages 10 years in between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones (nine-year-old Jake Lloyd becomes 19-year-old Hayden Christensen), while Padmé ostensibly only ages two years (17-year-old Natalie Portman becomes 19-year-old Natalie Portman). Because of this, we tend to conflate Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker with Lloyd’s Anakin Skywalker, hence the accusation of “whininess” that plagues Christensen’s representation as well as Lloyd’s.

And, yes: like that iconic Mean Girls character, Anakin Skywalker just has a lot of feelings. To be sure, his emotional outbursts in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith are incredibly difficult to watch. Most would say that the reason they’re difficult to watch is because George Lucas is terrible at writing dialogue and Hayden Christensen is terrible at acting and the result is a cringetastic cheesefest that has been meme-ified a million times over.

But I don’t think that’s entirely fair to Lucas’ story or Christensen’s acting. When it comes to what Anakin is actually saying, there is always a deeper meaning: his “I hate sand” speech is a veiled cry for help regarding his inability to overcome the trauma of his youth, while his fumbled confession of love for Padmé as they gaze into each other’s eyes next to a crackling fireplace in a cozy, dimly lit room (I mean, seriously, girl? You’re sending a pretty clear messagethere) is exactly what you’d expect from an emotionally stunted teenager.

Viewed as part of the larger story of Anakin’s life, his savagely violent outbursts carry weight as well. After unleashing his fury over his mother’s death on the Tusken villagers, Anakin confesses to Padmé in an anguished whirlwind of misplaced rage, desperately attempting to justify his actions while knowing in his heart that they were wrong. Later, Anakin’s terrified “what have I done?!” exclamation after aiding in the murder (or not) of Mace Windu reflects his belief that he has arrived at the point of no return – that whatever spark of good he may have fostered has suddenly been snuffed out. And his tortured scream of “I HATE YOU” after his battle with Obi-Wan… Well, I don’t need to dig too deep for that one. Between those three words and Obi-Wan’s tearful response (“You were my brother, Anakin! I loved you!”), there appears a boundless chasm of roiling, unspoken emotions. It breaks my heart every damn time.

There’s a fine line between drama and melodrama – and sometimes, the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker leans a little bit too much towards melodrama. These emotion-fueled scenes make us uncomfortable, but I’d argue that it’s because they feel so true – it’s because they’re so raw. After spending his childhood as a slave, Anakin is separated from his mother and the new father figure who promised to take care of him, and thrust into a life of stoic asceticism without ever learning how to manage his emotions. Which is how Anakin, the anointed “Chosen One,” becomes the living embodiment of the failure of the Jedi Order. […]”


Read more at /Film.