Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/02/20/rey-is-the-new-anakin-but-bet.html
Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/02/20/rey-is-the-new-anakin-but-bet.html
we all know the truth…
I wish some of these movies were less of a mess on screen and could convey some of these finer details more clearly.
I just read an analysis on Eps 1-3 that shed light on some really cool story writing that I never noticed, and I’m left wondering why the hell the movies were seemingly not as good as the writing? Why are some important and meaningful moments almost hidden, to be discovered after other experienced writers/analysts can dissect it over a longer period of time?
Or maybe I’m just dense and need to read up on story writing and analyzing? Anyone have any recommendations on where to get started? Movie Analyzing for Dummies?
Because Lucas thought he was good enough to go it alone, without workshopping the rough cut like he did the original movie.
Analysis is a form of argument; the analyzer builds their argument by using pieces of a work (or works; this essay combines analysis of the movie with the script) as evidence to support their idea. And then, if honest, they go back and look for what in the work contradicts their stance.
If you Google “writing an analysis essay” I’m sure you’ll find lots of material.
And as for the analysis making the original work seem better than it might truly be; there are many quotes out there from artists saying basically they didn’t know something was in their work until a critic pointed it out (and sometimes they’re being sarcastic).
The problem in making movies vs. storytelling is exposition and backstory.
In books or screenplays, it’s relatively easy to express the character’s motivations, emotions and history to help set the mood, convey nuance, or explain emotional conflicts. With the written page, you can get inside the character’s heads for better understanding of what’s going on and why.
On the screen, these concepts are very difficult to convey by just the actor’s expressions or actions. You often need excessive amounts of backstory scenes, ham-fisted dialogue where characters volunteer information for no obvious reason, or intrusive narration which is extremely hard to get right.
The big problem with Episodes 1-3 was Lucas’ crappy dialogue combined with wooden actors (looking at you Hayden!) that was used to explain all the intricate details of Anakin’s childhood trauma, stupid trade wars, intergalactic politics, Jedi/Sith juxtaposition, midichlorians and Padme/Anakin love story. That’s just way too much detail to expose via dialogue (re-watch the movies and count how many cutaway scenes are just 2 random people talking to each other in order to expose some plot point with no obvious rational). Throw in the need for constant action scenes and a commercially exploitable comedic sidekick - aka JarJar - and you have a train wreck that even the best directors would have struggled to get right.
When faced with the need for exposition, use these five rules as guide to live by:
- Eliminate exposition that isn’t absolutely necessary or that will become clear as the story moves forward.
- Deliver exposition in scenes that contain conflict. An argument that starts about one thing often escalates when past issues are brought into the mix.
- Wait as long as possible before providing exposition, always looking for the moment of maximum dramatic impact to reveal it.
- Use brevity. Exposition doesn’t have to be a monologue. Just give us the necessary information, so we can move forward.
- Use a character (main or supporting) whose job it is to deliver exposition: a judge, teacher, military officer, principle, politician, scientist, etc.
Since Episodes 1-3 was nothing but 3 long movies of backstory written expressly to support Ep 4-6, Lucas really couldn’t help but violate all 5 of the these rules. Doesn’t help that he’s also a shitty writer.
And I would absolutely argue that Kylo Renn is Old Anakin (but better realized). Both are portraits of angry young men. Who are in many ways ineffectual, even pathetic. Who reject an opportunity to be the hero in favor of personal power.
Despite all the “Its just a remake of the first one” belly aching its at least as much a meditation on, and attempt to fix the Prequels.
OOF. Any given book about film or literary theory. These guys made a nice little youtube channel that’s basically a 101 level film lecture series. Personally I found it a bit boring because I went to film school. But everyone else seems to love it when its not a rehash of what your homework used to look like.
There is a difference between what your seeing in the posted article and some of the other stuff that’s come up with the films. McBride is offering analysis. Analysis is all about arguing for and supporting an interpretation of a work that may not have even been intended by the author/s.
Some of the other stuff you hear with the newer movies. Vis a Vis how Rey figures out how to use the force. Whether Leia was “flying” or not. Are a different thing. Those were things that were plainly spelled on on screen. And required little more than paying attention and a willingness not to assume the worse. The issue there is that they were handled rather subtlety. And a certain contingent of any sci-fi fandom. And perhaps particularly among Star Wars fans. Want that sort of thing to be spelled out entirely and directly to the audience. With great detail. Everything must be considered at face value, and as literally as possible. And everything must have an explaination. Its how we end up with midichlorians. Its the show don’t tell thing. So what you’re getting there is the actual creators themselves, and some people who were paying attention pointing out things that are pretty clear to begin with.
With the prequels. Just to be frank. They’re pretty poorly made movies. The writing is quite stiff and opaque.The performances lack for subtly. And more importantly the editing is quite bad (the newer flicks have some editing issues as well, which does hamper some clarity). So great gobs of what you hear later. From Lucas and others involved. Or that were teased out in the old EU, or discovered by fans. Are things that were simply never even hinted at on screen. Those films were very much made in the tell mode. Everything has an explicit explanation that ends up on screen, and where the explicit couldn’t fit on screen. It had to be put out later.
Then there are fan theories. Attempts to predict future portions of a series by analyzing whats already out there. Many are quite conspiracy theory like, and based on internet forum style “logic”. Think Darth Binks. Others are remarkably clever and accurate (see they way the fan community figured out Jon Snow’s back story so quickly and in so much detail for Game of Thrones). These are a different thing all together and shouldn’t be confused with critical analysis. Fun as they can be.
The fundamental problem with Lucas’s later work is that he started believing his own bullshit.
The original Star Wars worked so well because Lucas knew his work wasn’t good enough and he turned to others (especially his then-spouse Marcia Lucas) for help with the scripts and the edits. Then, after umpteen years of being adulated as a genius and after just as long laying the BS on thick for interviews, when the time came to make the prequels he had convinced himself that he didn’t need any help anymore. Ooh boy was he ever wrong.
The parallels between Anakin and Rey are interesting because they both represent fundamentally bungled character writing.
In the case of Anakin, we started from the character’s corruption and worked backwards, shoehorning him into his fate in ways that made zero sense. Lucas tried to rationalize all of this after the fact by saying that Anakin went evil because he tried to hold onto things too tightly. That’s like saying someone became a serial killer because he had a bad childhood – it fails to take into account the vast majority of people who have bad childhoods and then turn out okay. Like Anakin, a good part of humanity tries to hold onto things too tightly. Unlike Anakin, 99.99999% of these people don’t turn into angry spree killers.
Rey is a cipher onto whom we project whatever the hell is most comforting or convenient. Does she really want to “belong?” Okay, sure, whatever. Beats me. She just sort of goes wherever the writers tell her to go and does whatever the writers tell her to do. “Let’s see, we need a Big Force User in this story.” “Okay, Rey will suddenly discover out of nowhere that she has Force powers and can use them with zero training.” “We need someone to tie this pathetic excuse for a story together, like duct tape or chewing gum.” “Okay, Ray will decide to become a Force evangelist and help the Resistance and whatever else we want her to do on the spur of the moment.” Seriously, this character is about as meaningful as “Make America Great Again” – pull your own personal interpretation out of thin air and feel good about it.
Hollywood hasn’t just forgotten how to tell stories – it stands in arrogant, drooling contempt of decent storytelling.
Authorial intent. Generally speaking in media/art studies and criticism its held to be interesting. But not definitive. And a major trend in the field has been that the authors intent matters not at all.
Most authors (in the broad sense of an author being the creative driver of any piece of media or art). Have been trained in an environment that accepts this dynamic. So whatever push back you see isn’t as firm as it seems. They’re providing their original intent and their own after the fact analysis to add to the overall discussion. Rather than to neccisarily dismiss anything or claim a definitive interpretation (though by its nature proposing any analysis dismisses or weakens others).
Film is strange because we’re often working under the yoke of auteur theory
Where in a single person. Most often the director. Is the single author of a given film. With little credit or artistic involvement from other people involved. And that his vision or interpretation is difinitive.
That theory became popular in the west. Where as in Russia the soviet model claimed equal credit to all those involved. Even the caterer.
The truth lies somewhere in between. Film is a fundamentally collaborative art. Where the contributions of many people can effect and change the final meaning or form of a film. Even where there is a single leader of the production with a clear intent.
Current trends in film analysis acknowledge that a lot more than they used to. Which is a big part of why we used to hear about Lucas as a lone genius. But when we actually saw him taking the rains and doing it alone. Things didn’t work out as well. The newer flicks have very much gone back the collaborative model.
And the rise of Marvel’s system for serialized, long running, tent pole pictures. Is at base a hugely collaborative thing. Very much borrowing the writers room/tv model. Where multiple directors and writers pull lead roles on individual entries, but the sum total is the result of everyone in the group.
Star wars seems to be trying to split the baby on that one. They’ve got the central story group. And one or two major producers over seeing it all. But they keep hiring directors and cutting them loose with less time, support and centralized direction than they really need to consistently build an on going series.
I just love the interview with daisy for the script/part
I think the article should have left it as Rey is the new Jake Lloyd. I agree with @Ryuthrowsstuff that Kylo Ren is the new Hayden Christensen.
I do see people trying to make the Rey = Luke, Finn = Han, and Poe = Leia mostly because of their look and window dressing, but in terms of the audience experience Rey is Han, Finn is Luke, Poe is Leia. It’s pretty easy, they just jumbled up their abilities a little - Rey’s only attachment to the resistance is her friendship with Finn after rescuing him from Jakku with her Jack of All Trades ability and take-no-shit attitude (and lots of luck), Finn is the character that explores the universe and introduces those concepts to the audience through their naiveté, and Poe is the brash young charismatic officer whose zeal gets in his way.
This is exactly why some people hated The Last Jedi and why I think it might be my favorite.
There were plenty of decent actors in the Prequels. Liam Neeson had a Best Actor nomination under his belt before he did Phantom Menace and Natalie Portman has racked up a whole shelf full of awards in the years since. As for Hayden—I think he got saddled with a disproportionate amount of blame for that role. Sir Lawrence Olivier couldn’t have saved the “I don’t like sand” monologue.
I don’t know about all that, but Daisy Ridley is the much, much better actor!!
Although I can’t blame Hayden for leaving the industry when he did, his acting in non-Star Wars films isn’t that bad. I thought he was pretty decent in Jumper for instance.
And Natalie’s acting is no worse than Hayden’s. In fact I think the worst line in the prequels is actually when Padme tells Anakin “I truly love you” as they’re about to be killed in the arena. That line is so bad, there were people standing up in their seats in the theater shouting “No you don’t!” when that turd of a line was dropped.
Next worst after that is the ‘I hate sand’ monologue, followed by both of them when they confront each other on Mustafar at the end of RotS.
I think your right to a point. But frankly trying to wedge the characters into a single particular role from the OT is a bit much.
Both Finn and Rey are experiencing the galaxy for the first time. Both have elements of the audience surrogate. Rey’s only connection to the resistance in the latest one is her relationship with Finn who by that time is all in. But in the first one Finn’s only connection to the resistance is his friendship with Rey. She gets very hooked on the idea of doing the right thing. Of the adventure of it. And he just wants to run away. The resistance was a means to an end for him. A way out. In a certain way this makes them both like Luke, at different points in time. But both have elements of Han. Finn wants to run, not get involved. Rey is a pilot and mechanical geek. And so forth. Poe is a short sighted hot shot pilot like Han (and as a fighter pilot in command, elements of Luke). But he’s clearly on his way to the sort of authoritative leadership role Leia already has by the time we meet her. So he has elements of each as well.
Its character complexity. Each is their own character. But because JJ Abrams is a dedicated proponent of remix culture each unique character is built of bits and pieces of the old ones we loved, with new stuff added. And they each have an arch, their character changing and building over time in a sensible way that is consistent with their initial characterization.
I still think I liked TFA the most so far. But that’s probably down to the film school problem. You know an awful lot of a particular subject. And suddenly you like things that are very much examinations of that subject structurally. And things that you can analyze
I still haven’t seen TLJ again. And I’ve seen both TFA and Rogue one multiple times by now. So I’ve got more to work with. There was a lot in TLJ that I liked a lot more than anything I’ve seen in any Star Wars. But I think its structural problems are a little more significant than most of the others (and they all have them even the originals.
A lot of people are pegging the Casino sequence. But that was great and would have worked fine. I think the central mistake was placing so much of the movie around the chase element without focusing on it much more. That sort of thing works wonderfully as a bottle episode. But it makes it very difficult to work in sub plots at other locations.
I’ll watch it a few more times, when its available. So’s I can catch all the stuff I may have missed in the theater and see if it worked better than I remember.
Compare that to Han & Leia’s “I love you / I know” moment. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fischer didn’t have much better dialogue to work with than the prequel movies, but Ford had the confidence to suggest a change during rehearsals and the director had enough insight to realize it was an improvement over what had been written in the script.
Which just goes to prove that no amount of acting talent will compensate for shitty writing. Good movies start with the writing and are made in editing.
For example, if you take the Machete Order of watching the series, there’s no reason for Qui-Gon or JarJar to even exist. The entire first movie is largely irrelevant. The characters are poorly constructed and the dialogue is horrendous. It’s actually cringe-inducing in my opinion.