Sunday, 28 May 2017

Happy fortieth birthday, Star Wars!

Star Wars poster, Brother Hildebrandt
"Star Wars. Yes it's the Star Wars. Yes it's the Star Wars. Yes it is."

I must own up. Those are the words I hear in my head whenever I hear the Star Wars theme tune, and no one will ever convince me those weren't the words in John Williams' head when he was writing it.

"That's all very well," I hear you say, "But what does that have to do with anything?"

What it has to do with is that, as mentioned previously on this very blog, this week has seen the fortieth anniversary of the release of the film that saved an industry, saved a comic company and launched a religion that you're actually allowed to list on your census form. In light of the historic nature of such a release, and my desperation to keep up my Google ranking, I feel obliged to at least do a post about it.

Now, I have to admit I've never really been a Star Wars fan. I don't mind the original film but I'd never put it anywhere near a list of my favourite films of all time. Granted, most of my favourite films of all time involve people being killed by monsters, so it was always going to struggle to make that list.

But what I do like about it is the way it looks and the way it sounds. The spaceships, the droids, the lightsabres, the Death Star, the storm troopers, the alien worlds, Luke Skywalker's hover car, all look great. And, of course, it has that classic score which manages to lend drama, romance and even a sense of epic grandeur to what is at heart a fairly modest and silly remake of the old Flash Gordon serials.

On the other hand, the story itself, with its fairy tale plot, characters and sensibilities, doesn't do a lot for me, being somewhat basic and juvenile even for a man of my lack of intellectual development.

The Empire Strikes Back is, to me, a better and more developed film, although arguably not as much fun as the original.

Of the first trilogy, I think I prefer The Return of the Jedi, even though there are many who see it as the runt of the litter. Certainly, the reuse of the, "We must destroy a Death Star," motif shows a noticeable lack of imagination and ambition but the film feels livelier than the first one and more fun than the second and wraps the series up perfectly well.

As for the prequels...

Let's be honest, they're dreadful. They're so bad that I didn't manage to get through any of them in one sitting and had to watch them all in instalments, meaning I have very little idea as to what the overall plot of them is, other than that Anakin Skywalker turns evil for some reason that's not clear to me, there's a weird love story going on and various characters that I don't like get killed.

My main perception of the prequels is that they're simply very very long and very very boring, weighed down by politics that don't even make any kind of sense, involving things like a queen fighting to protect the republic she rules. I don't know how a queen can rule a republic but, if you're George Lucas, it is, apparently, very possible. Blind-sided by having to do everything in rooms filled with nothing but green sheets, the actors don't seem to know where they're supposed to be or what the significance of their lines or actions is and therefore basically don't act at all but sleepwalk their way through scenes that are beyond their comprehension.

When it comes to the new films, I've not seen any of the Disney sequels because, although I wish them no ill, I sort of feel like I don't need to. I'm basing this on the assumption that, once unleashed upon free television, they'll be on every bank holiday until the end of eternity, meaning I'll have all the time in the world to find out what they're about.

Of course, my other exposure to the world of Star Wars came from the Marvel UK comic of that name, which launched in early 1978 and which I had every issue of. I must confess the main strip never particularly interested me and I remember little of it other than that it always seemed to be drawn by Carmine Infantino but the comic featured some rather belting back-up strips such as Warlock, Star-Lord and general sci-fi-ness that kept me hooked for week after week.

Marvel UK, Empire Strikes Back #140
In 1980, it switched to a monthly schedule and became The Empire Strikes Back.

Even though I read that one too, I have even feebler memories of it than the weekly title and can honestly not even recall what the back-up strips were. This lack of recall seems a strange beast indeed but, as we all know, lack of recall is what this blog does best.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter. You may have other thoughts. You may not. You are free to share them or not as you see fit.

In cliché loving fashion, I would finish this post by saying, "May the Force be with you," but I don't even know what that actually entails. Is it possible for the Force to choose not to be with you?

After all, it was with Darth Vader and he was evil. So, it doesn't seem to be that fussy about who it's with. Thus, I'm taking it for granted that it's with you already. Just make sure not to misuse it. Remember, if you do, you could end up yelling, "Nooooooooooooooooo!" and complaining about sand.


Aggy said...

I think I can clear up the whole Queen ruling a republic confusion.

Amidala is Queen of Naboo. Making Naboo a Monarchy. That Monarchy is a part of the Galactic Republic. Thus its a monarchy inside a republic. Makes perfect sense right...

Quick look Podracing...

No we weren't talking about anything...

I'm pretty sure the Empire Strikes Back years of tge magazine featured tge original Deathlock series. Of course it later turned back into Star Wars. Then Jedi. Then... it finished along with my 1st period of comic collecting.

Aggy said...

Correction (apart from misspelling "The")

The Deathlok strips were in the Star Wars period. The strip featured during the Empire period was the much loved (on this blog) KILLRAVEN! (aka Apeslayer). I never read the Apeslayer stories but I wonder if those who had were confused by the really similar but somehow different stories.

Steve W. said...

Aggy, the politics of Star Wars suddenly make perfect sense to me now.

I remember reading my first Killraven story during the period when Marvel UK were running Apeslayer. It was indeed confusing as to why Apeslayer and Killraven bore such a startling resemblance to each other, until I realised what they'd done and was suitably offended by their underhandedness.

Anonymous said...

Well Steve, we often hear in the press how great some German royals are for British democracy and you may recall there was a "people's princess" not so long ago.
And even in the US they made Jack Kirby king.

The far-fetched bit of Lucas' extrapolation in the sequels - it all began with a trade blockade - was his idea of a "free market". Theres a ridiculous contradiction right there.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

I second your opinion on the prequels. Nonsensical and some really terrible acting.

B Smith said...

"Makes perfect sense right..."

Sounds like it comes from the "Explaining doing the Kessel run in 12 parsecs" school of reverse-rationalising to me....

Timothy Field said...

Star Wars weekly was one of the few Marvel UK titles that I was able to collect start to finish. I was never too fussed about the title strip, though it did make Luke look like less of a whiney drip than the movies, the only other thing I remember was that weird green bounty hunter rabbit dude. The backup strips were brilliant, Deathlok was a particular favourite.

Steve W. said...

The rabbit is my main memory too. I can't even remember what the other characters got up to.

I've also just remembered that the comic featured The Guardians of the Galaxy at one point.

TC said...

Was the green rabbit in that arc (maybe the first one after the first movie adaptation concluded) that was sort of "The Magnificent Seven in Outer Space"?

Steve W. said...

That does ring a bell for me, TC.

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