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Post #1402359

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Star Wars is Surrealism, not Science Fiction (essay)
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Date created
12-Jan-2021, 2:53 PM
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12-Jan-2021, 2:57 PM
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jedi_bendu said:

Well done on this essay; I’m an absolute cinephile, and interested in film history and analysis, so I really enjoyed reading it. I’ve particularly noticed the fantastical approach taken in The Mandalorian, with things like the tracking fob which make no sense to me but are better for the story, and settings like Trask - where we have a fishing town with woollen-jumper-wearing Mon Calamari - ground the show firmly in the fantasy genre. After what you’ve said, I’ll be looking out for more expressionist, surreal locations or features in future content.

Yes, exactly. Trask is by far one of my favourite of the new SW locations. It’s the kind of setting that would have felt pretty dumb if it appeared in an episode of Star Trek, but for SW it was perfect. It’s basically just a stereotypical, or rather archetypal, fishing port, but space-ified and with literal squid and fish-men instead of fishermen.

The fobs are also a great example, and I find it amusing that there’s several videos on YouTube trying to explain how it works. Had something with a similar function appeared in LOTR or Harry Potter I don’t think anyone would have really questioned it.

jedi_bendu said:

I think sci-fi is actually quite hard to define. Yes, Star Wars has never made any scientific sense, but that doesn’t necessarily prevent it from being science fiction. Particularly in movies, a simplistic approach to defining sci-fi is looking at the iconography: Star Wars has spaceships, robots and laser guns, so in a very tight genre expectation of SF, it counts. I personally think what defines sci-fi is having a material cause, or explanation: for example, if a person wakes up one morning and they’ve magically turned into an ant, it’s fantasy; if that person invents a mutation machine that causes them to turn into an ant, however stupid, it’s sci-fi. Star Wars usually does have these material explanations dating back to the original films, like hyperdrives. Although I’d never classify Star Wars as pure science fiction, it’s sci-fi/fantasy to me.

The hyperdrive is actually a great example of how tech is SW is basically just there for the plot. We all know that vehicles have some kind of motor or engine, so the OT never had to explain how it worked. Star Trek, being hard(-ish) sci-fi have actual scientific theories that more or less explain how warp drive can become a reality one day. The Falcon hyperdrive is basically just a space-engine. Ben Burt even gave it the sound of a spitfire engine and I think there’s even some old car sounds that used.

For the same reason we have “droids” instead of “robots”, and “lightsabers” instead of “laser swords.” The latter descriptions do show up every now and then, but it was clear from the beginning that the tech in SW was only tech on a surface level. Droids are the lower class seen through a space-age lens, and the lightsaber is a space-age version of Excalibur.