Thank you so much for your views, likes and following. Inasmuch as I love writing and have a good memory, my brain feels like its a sponge that just absorbed 30 pints of absinthe and was just ignited by a butane lighter. So, I’m actually not sure if it was five new likes or five new followers as the condition for my personal critique of Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Quite frankly, I’m just going to do it anyway because I love writing, love you guys and I’m sure some of you are kind of curious as to why I believe and believe intently that the Star Wars prequels are an epitome of film-making masterpieces, yes? And originally I had planned and even outlined my analysis and formed a few drafts for a word press post. But, I just finished reading an article about, well, I’ll tell you later. Suffice it to say that it made me tired and utterly mortified at the redundancy and stupidity of the American educational system. It has to do with relatable instances that are common, at the heart of the earth which is called the core. So, here it is: my opinion and mine alone why the Star Wars Prequels are the greatest masterworks of motion pictures made, thus far.
*big huge sigh*
Elephant in the room: Jar Jar Binks. I’m going to give you a link right now for a YouTube video of Dane Cook. Watch it and associate his topic of humor to Jar Jar Binks. When you are finished (or felt that you watched enough of the video to get my point) we can continue and I just saved myself, most likely, one thousand words: summarized *lol*
I need you to do something for me; a favor. This is absolutely vital and, quite possibly, the most difficult thing many of you might ever have to do: I need you to remove all nostalgia of Star Wars from your heart, mind, body and soul and act, hypothetically, as if the Star Wars Prequels are the first instance of Star Wars you’ve ever seen; a genesis to your senses and stimuli. Thank you for indulging me as even as far as this. Even for me adjusting to what is still just a speculative outlook of the prequels was quite perplexing. But, when I peeled back the hype, turned off–momentarily–my good feelings and magic of the original trilogy, I discovered not a silver lining to the storm clouds, but the pot of gold at the end of an already beautiful and peace-analogizing rainbow. It is, thusly, in the opening of Episode One we get the Republic cruiser commence a flyby on the screen after the cheers of the booming John Williams music and Star Wars title. Personally, I don’t know if Lucas utilized some type of binaural audio or the theater, by commission of Mr. George, released small doses of *erhm* cocaine– but, for whatever reason, that sound of the Consular-Class Republic Cruiser just made me feel so– good! Then– all of a sudden, a turbo-laser turret blasts the bridge in wanton destruction in an array of incineration that was actually quite disturbing, considering there was a young captain on board the bridge at that time; likely with an extremely bright future ahead of her. The explosion looked so real! Then, I found out in a documentary, it was real. It turns out that Lucas utilized real explosions for actually most of his incendiary effects more often than not. Then, as a fifteen year-old-boy who loved action and fighting and Jedi kicking ass, I see this tall quintessential Jedi as Qui-gon Jinn with the young Obi-wan Kenobi spinning, lightsaber-ing and just showing me exactly what I wanted those Star Wars monks doing with their weapons we all want; battledroids getting hacked and eliminated almost as if Qui-gon and Obi-wan were merely in a training exercise with non combat-efficient pylons. This opening scene with these two, and working as such an amazingly well constructed team (notice how they both know what the other will do much akin to watching well-organized sports teams reading their team-mates and the field orientation: no Force even necessary: just pure instinct) is a perfect example of just how powerful the Jedi are; giving better credence to much of the non-cannon dogma: peoples and individuals fearing the Jedi; and the Jedi’s very strong hold of peace and order: “for nearly one thousand years the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice throughout the galaxy.” -Jedi Master Obi-wan Kenobi. Following the entire rest of the first movie you see the Jedi –especially Qui-gonn– as these stoic monks which is exactly the point: an initiation to the Jedi order means no more fancy stuff; no more desires; no more luxuries; no more toys: you are a monk and have taken a vow of literal poverty and to guide, protect and balance the Force for the rest of your entire existence. I saw this video on YouTube of a Kung Fu master (and I mean master). But, he never leaves his monastery. He just meditates, eats some rice, trains, meditates and then sleeps. But, he loves visitors, as it seemed. He looked really funny and charming. But, again, he is under a sort of self-imposed exile, I felt. I feel that his deliberate isolation is merely the testament to his discipline. It is my theory that this monk is so strong and skilled that he does not want to use his gift and mastery of Kung Fu to hurt anyone; even if it is fully justified. Here’s the link, if you’re interested.
So, from the beginning, we see the stars at war, truly, and an ideal of the Jedi order in their prime. In the first five to ten minutes of the film, we’ve been besmeared (you have “besmeared” in your dictionary, WordPress, but you don’t have “Kung Fu”?) with just about every aspect of the Star Wars Universe (SWU) which is how movie making should be done. If you also notice a key feature in the beginning of Episode I: we’re not drowning in expositional nonsense (WordPress, seriously, check your dictionary, please! You don’t have “expositional”. Hire me!) Much to my disappointment, movies almost always have some sort of pointless and boring narration that explains nothing, except what our eyes can see. And the only reason for the exposition of reading at the beginning of every Star Wars film is, of course, nostalgia and tradition. And, although I asked you to oblige me by taking away all that stuff for now, that notion is still implemented. Imagine your asking a Star Wars fan why there is reading at the beginning at all. You don’t know, right? But, again, no rambling, no exposition and no blah, blah and blah: just get on with the story, already. That is exactly what Episode I does, and does well. Lastly, the pacing is not too fast yet not in any way slow or lethargic. There’s always something happening or being discussed. We as viewers have an attention span of about 1 microsecond (thanks, Michael Bay! [mordant]) and we need constant stimulation in our films without loosing the artistic and aesthetical value.
Here’s my third and last part in this segment of my personal review of the Star Wars Prequels beginning with Episode I: The Phantom Menace: the spoken dialogue and script. Okay, apologies, there are in fact two elephants in this room, isn’t there? Yes, we all did it: cringe, cringe and cringe. Awkward dialogue; sub-par acting; grossly bad conversation; poor character arcs; and little Anakin saying “Yippee!” Yippee? What, did an eighth grader write this for his social studies skit? So, heh, (I could also help you with your interjections, Word Press: why don’t you have “heh”?) here’s the thing: George Lucas is, admittedly so by his own mouth, not a very good writer. He’s so humble about it and everyone knows. The reason why the original trilogy seemed to flow in its speech so much better than the prequels was its rewrite. This rewrite was performed by none other than Carrie Fischer and Harrison Ford. So, why didn’t the prequels get a good rewrite? Well, if you were a young Natalie Portman or an ambitious Hayden Christensen; maybe a passionate Ewan McGregor; are you that young and adorable Jake Matthew Lloyd who seemed no more capable of killing an ant than his own future wife? Well, I tell you what and I tell you honestly: as a musician and one who loves to play the violin, if I received sheet music from John Williams or Alan Silvestri or Eliot Goldenthall or Danny Elfman or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Michael Giacchino or Beethoven etc., I would not likely wish to add a suggestion or, much less: “excuse me, Mr. Bach, but, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind me perhaps going over your score of Toccata and Fugue in d minor. I might have some inflections that would improve it.” Even though George Lucas admitted he wasn’t a good writer, he’s the creator of Star Wars possessing gifts and genius which supersede his shortcomings, anyways. I’d be nervous and a little star-struck just to speak to the guy, let alone suggest a total rewrite of his script. In the 1970’s he was still up-and-coming. Not much reputation, yet. Plus, his actors were just as old as he was. And now that that is cleared, here is the real reason why the SWU prequels were so clunky, awkward and with such oddities in the screen writing and, yes, discrepancies:
The Force was out of balance!
Look at the truth behind Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side: he was a good guy; a Jedi; a keeper of his faith and a practitioner of the Force. But, the true culprits of the collapse of the Jedi order and the ultimate revenge of the Sith lords was, in fact, the Jedi. What was the prophecy: Anakin was the chosen one who would help destroy the Sith and bring the Force back into balance. Can we please focus on this word “balance” as well as “destroy”. The Jedi order, after nearly one thousand years, grew inexhaustibly arrogant. They became far too sure of themselves and displayed just about every attribute of the Dark Side of the Force: impatience; arrogance; fear; anger; frustration; grandeur; self-righteousness. “I hate to say it but the planet you’re looking for doesn’t exist.”
“Impossible, perhaps the archives are incomplete?” (Obi-wan Kenobi)
“If an item does not appear in our record– it does not exist!” Jedi librarian, Star Wars Episode 2.
Sorry to skip ahead one episode, but honestly: that scene always bugged me: a Jedi archivist and elder of the order getting snooty? Oh, hell no! She just displayed in that one sentence every form of hatred, fear, aggression, anger… can anyone recall Yoda’s teaching to Luke in Episode Five. Okay, turn your nostalgia back on: here it comes:
Anakin Skywalker brought order and balance back to the Jedi. All the Jedi hypocrites, though tragic, were killed. The Force speaks and has a will of its own, and it spoke– and acted. Imagine your life is just a blanket of all-in-the-world-is-a-o-k…. Just then, because you weren’t paying attention–as in watching the news, staying up-to-date or just plain looking up–your home and livelihood was obliterated by a huge tornado. “Why didn’t you do anything; get insurance; protect our family, who’s now dead? Why didn’t you follow the news: they’ve been warning everyone about this inevitably disaster for weeks!”
So, what does this have to do with all the characters and individuals talking and behaving as though they were 3rd year residents for Cerebral Palsy? Remember what Obi-wan Kenobi said: “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field that surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the universe together.” If the Force is so radically out of balance, then so is the entire universe. Go figure, once the Jedi were, albeit, murdered quite cruelly (which I do not condone or think right, but the Force goes beyond the comprehension of even Master Yoda; from even after nearly 1,000 years of study and practice) people started talking normally, acting more fluently and speaking as though they were not a snot-gobbler at their school play. Conclusively, look at how much more powerful the Force was in use in Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Okay, so much more to discuss and write about with these fun facts. But, I stand by my conjecture. Moreover, ever since Lucas sold the rights to Disney, I mourned the Star Wars cannon: know that that creative genius and master of sound had an entire timeline and working of the Star Wars universe comprehensively mapped out. But, now that Disney has taken the reigns, the metaphysical nature of what Star Wars would have truly been (to have been upon a much higher tier than Disney will ever achieve, in my opinion) will be forever lost. Regardless, I love conversations about these little inflections. More still to come on the SWU and my notion that the prequels herald greatness beyond any film yet made. Hope you enjoyed my analysis.
As always, please check out my page on Amazon. Buy some of my works and give a starving and married artist some bread. Because if you like my books and music enough, I can make lots, lots more. Links will be below and blessings always to every one. Love you all. Merry Christmas!
-The Giver of Words.