Sign In

The Shifting Tone of Star Wars

Author
Time
 (Edited)

I became a fan of SW before the prequels, and while I enjoyed those films when they came out, over time I've come to prefer the pre-PT SW films and expanded fiction more. There's something to their sensibility that just feels right to me.

In the years since the PT films came out (not to mention the books and other fiction), I've seen them accused of bad scripting, confusing plotting, poor acting, overuse of unrealistically dynamic special effects, etc. Those things notwithstanding, I think there is a shift in tone. I always found it hard to define, but I happened to read Adam Roberts' review of The Hobbit today and I think it gets at the notion very well:

Punkadiddle said:

My beef, if I may slip into a nonvegetarian idiom for a moment, is not with Tolkien's religious beliefs, which (although I do not share them) are clearly essential to the dynamic of his art. My beef is with the notion that all our bents and faculties have a purpose. In Tolkien's second version of The Hobbit, it is precisely the haphazardness, the intimations of glorious, human, comic incompetence, that must be sanded, smoothed and filed away. It is no longer enough for Gandalf to turn up on the doorstop of the world's least likely adventurer merely because that is the sort of thing batty old wizards do. Now he must do so because he has a larger plan.  In the first version of the story it doesn't really matter why Gandalf chooses a hobbit, of all people; or more precisely, his whylessness of choice is actually the point of the story. ('I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging,' Gandalf says, with what sounds to me rather like desperation, 'and it's very difficult to find anyone.') This is because the novel is not about Gandalf's whys, it is about Bilbo's adventure: why he is chosen matters less than the way he acquits himself on his journey, and the extent to which he sheds his unheroism and becomes a better fellow. That's what matters because we are he. That's how the reading experience goes.

But in Tolkien's second version of the hobbit everything has to happen for a reason. Gandalf was not idly arranging an adventure; he was setting in motion one crucial play in a larger strategy of a grand war against Evil.



Obviously, there is some element of "crucial play[s] in a larger strategy" in the OT, specifically the two sequel films. However, the original film has a sense of adventure and "haphazardness," and I think that Empire and Jedi, while they pile on the additional story mythology and relationships, do not fully shift the feel.

In the OT, the Empire and the Emperor are politically powerful, but the universe itself doesn't have  to care; it's a fight between political factions and ideologies. Vader is a man who made choices and happens to be in the right place at the right time to end the Emperor's rule. In the PT, a "larger plan" of the universe is added. The Force itself wobbles, out of balance, and Anakin springs forth from it (in this, I'm going by a reading of the films; I've not read Plagueis and anyway even if Anakin's creation is explained there, the notion of his being born by the will of the Force seems widespread regardless). This drastically expands the scope of the narrative in much the same way LotR and the revised Hobbit change the original Hobbit.  

The comparison is inexact: The OT already had a strong freedom vs authoritarianism ("good" vs "evil") theme, true, and the PT was always going to focus on characters who also appeared in the OT, giving them (like Ben) more total screentime than the OT leads, perhaps making them feel more like the "main characters" of the films in general. That might account for part of the redefinition of the films into "Darth Vader's story." However, the shifting of the narrative focus to make it a truly cosmic-stakes battle, and to make Anakin (and by extension, Luke and Leia) unique characters in the universe, does change the whole feel. It's the retconning of the ring Bilbo wins from Gollum into The Ring of Power, forged in Mount Doom, the key to defeating Evil once and for all.

 

 

I think this shift has also been quite evident in the expanded material, by the way, with the focus - to near exclusion of all else - on the Jedi and Sith, the Force, and related concepts. I was looking at used books recently and found the old Brian Daley Han Solo novels, the ones that came out between SW and ESB. Their lack of Jedi and the Force is probably partially due to such things being reserved by Lucas, but I like to think it's also because the feel of the SW universe was such that Solo and Chewie were just as interesting and relevant to the galaxy as the stories of the old Jedi.

The Hobbit review goes on to say:

Punkadiddle said:

The story of The Lord of the Rings is that even 'the little people' (that's us, of course) have their part to play in the great historical and martial dramas of the age -- and it is a potent and truthful story, well told. But The Hobbit is that story only in its second iteration. In its first, the one we are chiefly considering here, The Hobbit is not about the great dramas of the age; it is about us-sized dramas of people being taken out of their comfort zone -- whisked away by Story.

I'm happy that there are two versions of The Hobbit, and feel no desire to try and force them into some notional procrustean 'coherence'. Only narrative fundamentalists, the textual Taliban, believe that all stories must be brought into that sort of rigid alignment. But of the two stories, really I prefer the one (homely, funny, a little bit slapstick and a little bit wondrous) over the other (grand-verging-on-grandiose, theological, epic and strenuously, to coin a phrase, eutragic).



I think this might be how I feel about Star Wars.

 

"Star Wars films are basically silent movies. And they're designed as silent movies, therefore the music carries a -- has a very large role in carrying the story, more than it would in a normal movie."  -GL

"NOO! NOOOOOO!!" - Darth Vader

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Great points and I think that also explains why I really disliked the heavy roles given to R2-D2 and Chewie in the prequels and despise the concept that they were spies for the likes of the Republic for 20 years. It shrinks the universe far, far, too much and dilutes the point of ANH, ESB, and ROTJ.

The inherent adventurous attraction the original films had was that ordinary individuals like R2, 3P0, Han, Chewie, and Lando caught got up in conflict much larger than themselves. and that prior to that they were in many ways individuals like us. Even Luke and Leia, set up from the beginning as continuing the work of their fathers, were still people who by certain whims of fate could have ended up far different.

Heck that the entire series essentially owes to the fact that an imperial officer didn't fire on an escape pod and an R4 unit broke down was such a great touch because it shows the arbitrary nature of everyday life even in a galaxy far far away. It could have gone so many ways, but it went the way it did, and the heroes took advantage of the opportunities given to make a difference. 

The prequels rely far too much on the nature of fate, prophecy, contrivance to the point where so much of it isn't relatable. Luke Skywalker for whatever talents he had wasn't really that special at the end of the day, which made us empathize with him so deeply. Anakin by contrast more or less has neon signs saying "Great hero of destiny" pointing at him from the moment we see him. What an intelligent, ultra kind person he is who also has extraordinary talents. Of course he's going to be a big deal, which just created further distance between him and the audience. 

The same problem also hurts Palpatine, rendering what could have been a cunning and subtle opportunist into an over the top cartoon character; who's schemes make him seem less like a magnificent planner and more like the only man with common sense in a galaxy full of idiots. It couldn't be that he took advantage of pre-existing problems and came out on top, it had to be a complex scheme where he was manipulating those on both sides to bring back the long gone Sith. The terrifying undercurrent of his character prior to 1999 was that he embodied a continuing threat in real life; of certain people just needing one chance in the midst of chaos and conflict to do real damage. 

The ironic thing about the prequel films is that George set out to make things more shades of gray but succeeded in creating a series of movies far less realistic and interesting precisely because the capricious nature of events was lost. 

Author
Time
 (Edited)

CWBorne said: Stuff

Agreed, excellently put. I wasn't even thinking of this in terms of the "bad" motivator as plot motivator, etc, but that's a great point.

"Star Wars films are basically silent movies. And they're designed as silent movies, therefore the music carries a -- has a very large role in carrying the story, more than it would in a normal movie."  -GL

"NOO! NOOOOOO!!" - Darth Vader

Author
Time
 (Edited)

The whole nature of the original film also reflected that more liberating sensibility with how creatures like Jawas and later the Ewoks affect things without initially intending to, just be their unplanned encounters with the heroes. 

Incidentally since I'm a shameless attention whore, I'm currently working on the first treatment (hopefully to become the first of three scripts) of a completely redone version of the prequels which pretty much removes the reliance on fate or prophecy as story elements and back to a more fanciful take ala the originals. The progress of that and other story points can be found in the Script Writing and Re-writing section of the forum. Give it a look if interested. 

Author
Time
 (Edited)

This whole discussion just serves to remind me of Lucas' ineptitude at crafting a cohesive "cosmic" story that makes any sense.

George's party line is that when the two Sith personified in the beings of the Emperor and Vader were killed/redeemed, evil itself was pretty much destroyed, a horrible imbalance created by the Sith's use of the Force was corrected, and a possibly-eternal period of peace and prosperity was ushered into existence throughout the universe. So, how the hell does this exactly work? The Sith can't misuse the Force, since the dark side is an inherent aspect of the Force that exists independently of any user who may choose to weild it. Even if two darksiders could profane the Force, so to speak, how come the thousands of Jedi who used to exist - who supposedly used the Force in the right way - couldn't use their powers to offset this disturbance somehow? And anyway, assuming all this claptrap could be made to make sense, how does the eradication of two Sith prevent other non-Sith darksiders - either from within or without the galaxy - from coming into existence? Logically, unless the Star Wars universe doesn't extend far beyond the main galaxy, there will always be darksiders elsewhere in the universe to misuse and unbalance the Force.

“Okay, I’m goin’, takin’ off. See ya… bye….” — Chip Douglas

“This concludes our broadcast day. Click.” — Chip Douglas

Author
Time

It's way easier than that.  Leia is evil.  Luke set her on her path before the Emperor and Vader died, so no lack of balance ever existed.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

Author
Time
 (Edited)

DuracellEnergizer said:

This whole discussion just serves to remind me of Lucas' ineptitude at crafting a cohesive "cosmic" story that makes any sense.

George's party line is that when the two Sith personified in the beings of the Emperor and Vader were killed/redeemed, evil itself was pretty much destroyed, a horrible imbalance created by the Sith's use of the Force was corrected, and a possibly-eternal period of peace and prosperity was ushered into existence throughout the universe. So, how the hell does this exactly work? The Sith can't misuse the Force, since the dark side is an inherent aspect of the Force that exists independently of any user who may choose to weild it. Even if two darksiders could profane the Force, so to speak, how come the thousands of Jedi who used to exist - who supposedly used the Force in the right way - couldn't use their powers to offset this disturbance somehow? And anyway, assuming all this claptrap could be made to make sense, how does the eradication of two Sith prevent other non-Sith darksiders - either from within or without the galaxy - from coming into existence? Logically, unless the Star Wars universe doesn't extend far beyond the main galaxy, there will always be darksiders elsewhere in the universe to misuse and unbalance the Force.

The explanation that I've gotten for this seems to be that the Sith at some time pre-TPM took some deliberate actions to throw the Force out of balance. It's not just their existence, but something they did to affect it. If I recall, it's probably in the Darth Plagueis book.

How Anakin killing Palpatine and then dying himself would fix this, isn't immediately clear. Neither is what exactly was done to destabilize the Force in the first place, or why it couldn't just be done again. And the idea that it's something they did instead of that they exist at all is not clear from the films alone, I think.

Even though explanations for these issues can be made, I think the whole topic is unnecessary. From the OT, there's no particular reason to think that the Force can even be out of balance, and what "out of balance" means in this instance is pretty vague. And if Lucas included it to intentionally reference some aspect of Buddhist theology or make some other metaphysical point, it's a little bit lost on me. I used a World War II metaphor to describe this elsewhere - no matter if the Allies or the Axis won, the sun would still rise and set. This business of knocking the Force around changes the stakes. I suppose the point could be simply to make it more 'epic,' but again, it just seems unnecessary and a little too grandiose to me.

"Star Wars films are basically silent movies. And they're designed as silent movies, therefore the music carries a -- has a very large role in carrying the story, more than it would in a normal movie."  -GL

"NOO! NOOOOOO!!" - Darth Vader

Author
Time
 (Edited)

That particular description points to how the Force in the OT acted as a mythic phenomenon, but in some ways, like something akin to a science of sorts in that it was neither inherently good or inherently evil, only the actual users determined that. While it did have a power one had to respect (as it would have a physical effect eventually as Palpatine's form demonstrated) it seemed very much like a tool. A natural part of life that one chose to utilize for good (the Jedi using it to protect the Republic) or ill (Palpatine using it take over the Republic) but still in many ways a tool.

Of the many bizarre changes created by the prequels (seriously those films are like inverted Citizen Kanes, just when you think you've discussed all the dubious layers to them, you discover more) was that it made the Force more scientific with the introduction of measurable midichlorians and more god like with the introduction of prophecy, chosen, one and a formerly unmentioned "balance". Ironic that while both aspects worked in an odd harmony in the originals just seem forced and somewhat incompatible in the prequels. 

Author
Time

It's interesting how certain popular adventure movies have that appealing, haphazard After Hours quality to the story that can really only happen once, (Die Hard, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Alien). And then get crowbarred into something happening again for the sequels, even though it becomes comical that shit keeps happening to these people. (Indiana Jones is kind of unique in that Raiders was the deliberate mission and then Temple of Doom is Indy's random bad Friday night.)  

Author
Time
 (Edited)

CWBorne said:

That particular description points to how the Force in the OT acted as a mythic phenomenon, but in some ways, like something akin to a science of sorts in that it was neither inherently good or inherently evil, only the actual users determined that. While it did have a power one had to respect (as it would have a physical effect eventually as Palpatine's form demonstrated) it seemed very much like a tool. A natural part of life that one chose to utilize for good (the Jedi using it to protect the Republic) or ill (Palpatine using it take over the Republic) but still in many ways a tool.

I also came out of the OT with a very nondualist interpretation of the Force (similar to yours, and I still prefer it).

However, it does seem like Lucas intended the Force to be split into actual dark and light parts, even during the OT. I can't remember the exact quotes right now, but I'll have to go through the Making Ofs and Annotated Screenplays, etc., because I'm fairly sure I remember them being there.  This seems to be a place where a lot of viewers made reasonable inferences about what they were being shown when the intention behind it might have been different. I think this comes from a combination of vagueness and assumptions based on Yoda's very eastern teachings.

Of course, the metaphysics of SW do seem to have really changed between the OT and PT, just not in that way (dual vs. nondual). In the OT (and related background materials) there isn't any suggestion of balance or imbalance in the Force, or any Chosen One(s), or anything like that.

"Star Wars films are basically silent movies. And they're designed as silent movies, therefore the music carries a -- has a very large role in carrying the story, more than it would in a normal movie."  -GL

"NOO! NOOOOOO!!" - Darth Vader

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Yeah, Lucas' original drafts refer to the good Ashla and evil Bogan parts of the Force, but they like so many other elements that more specifically defined it, were gradually dropped in succeeding version. Eventually it became the more  mysterious element of the galaxy that a variety of audiences found so interesting because it was ambiguous that you could read anything into it. 

In that regard its worth noting that ANH has Kenobi referring to Vader being seduced by just dark side, while the latter two films emphasize much more strongly that it was the Emperor himself who strongly lured him over, likely with his mastery of the dark side. Palpatine himself basically tells Darth that only their combined power can bring him over, and Yoda's last warning is that he cannot underestimate the Emperor's abilities. 

Clearly there was a shift that as bad as the dark side was, it was much more dangerous in the hands of experienced man like Palpatine. If there was cosmic element to the Force it seemed fairly malleable enough to whims of others, which fittingly enough could suggest an interesting backstory for the Emperor:

He wanted power, discovered he had the Force within him, learned of the abilities of the dark side, and then used it in subtle ways at the political level until he managed to get Anakin on his side, and proceeded to take out the biggest potential threat there was with the Jedi. Speaking for myself, Palpatine simply being an opportunist who found an effective means to get what he wanted is far more interesting than the quasi-fundamentalist Sith the prequels portrayed him as. 

Author
Time
 (Edited)

CWBorne said:

Speaking for myself, Palpatine simply being an opportunist who found an effective means to get what he wanted is far more interesting than the quasi-fundamentalist Sith the prequels portrayed him as.

Indeed. Palpatine as a self-taught darksider, who probably researched the lore of countless Force traditions - Jedi, Sith, and otherwise - dabled in their arts, and probably conducted his own explorations into the Force, is far more interesting a character than Lucas' Palpatine, who's no more than the heir to a long line of boring, two-dimensional Sith Lords with stupid names and the inane Rule of Two.

“Okay, I’m goin’, takin’ off. See ya… bye….” — Chip Douglas

“This concludes our broadcast day. Click.” — Chip Douglas

Author
Time

Honestly, as much as I love Empire and Return of the Jedi and so much of the old EU, the original Star Wars film, the old Marvel comics, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, and the old daily Archie Goodwin comics really, to me, are just impeccably fun.  The original movie is just so swash-buckling and fun, while at the same time it has a dark and mysterious backstory and is very much grounded in reality despite being a shameless fairy tale in space...

This leads me to my other thought.  The original Star Wars, much like the first printings of The Hobbit (before LOTR and the Gollum scene change), is a fairy tale.  Empire and Jedi are much more "dark" and "epic", and deal so much with darkness, notions of redemption, seduction towards evil. etc that they are much more "epic" than anything the original film and the pre-ESB "EU" offered.  The same with how LOTR is so much more grave, embellished, and grand than The Hobbit which is such a "Wake up common people unaccustomed to adventure and excitement! Let's go get some treasure and have a jolly old time!" type of book.  However, none of these changes are that bad.  Empire and Jedi being much more "grand" and "epic" than Star Wars isn't a problem.  The same with LOTR to the Hobbit.  What is a problem is when the later story has to ret-con that of the original to make it fit in with the dark, grand scheme of the entire series which it spawned.  Empire and Jedi did it a bit to Star Wars...and then the Prequels made the entire Star Wars franchise all about prophecies, virgin birth, fate and fulfillment, and quasi-scientific explanations for EVERYTHING...except for the prophecies and fate....(also Tolkien shouldn't have changed the Gollum scene in The Hobbit...it just doesn't fit the original story...although that's still so much less of an atrocity to the Special Ed. changes to the OT films).  

 

-Someone, someday, needs to bring back the LIGHT SIDE to Star Wars.  Has anyone else noticed striking similarites between the character of Anakin/Vader and George Lucas, or is it just me? 

-It's called STAR WARS. NOT "Episode IV: A New Hope". Kids, get this straight.  

-Please read the Archie Goodwin daily SW comics: Too good to be forgotten! 

Author
Time

CWBorne said:

Yeah, Lucas' original drafts refer to the good Ashla and evil Bogan parts of the Force, but they like so many other elements that more specifically defined it, were gradually dropped in succeeding version. Eventually it became the more  mysterious element of the galaxy that a variety of audiences found so interesting because it was ambiguous that you could read anything into it. 

In that regard its worth noting that ANH has Kenobi referring to Vader being seduced by just dark side, while the latter two films emphasize much more strongly that it was the Emperor himself who strongly lured him over, likely with his mastery of the dark side. Palpatine himself basically tells Darth that only their combined power can bring him over, and Yoda's last warning is that he cannot underestimate the Emperor's abilities. 

Clearly there was a shift that as bad as the dark side was, it was much more dangerous in the hands of experienced man like Palpatine. If there was cosmic element to the Force it seemed fairly malleable enough to whims of others, which fittingly enough could suggest an interesting backstory for the Emperor:

He wanted power, discovered he had the Force within him, learned of the abilities of the dark side, and then used it in subtle ways at the political level until he managed to get Anakin on his side, and proceeded to take out the biggest potential threat there was with the Jedi. Speaking for myself, Palpatine simply being an opportunist who found an effective means to get what he wanted is far more interesting than the quasi-fundamentalist Sith the prequels portrayed him as. 

i finally read the Heir to the Empire trilogy recently and not to majorly spoil anything but it is speculated in the book that the Emperor rose to power much in the same way Jorus C'baoth does (a partnership with the military at first, and that military believing they can keep him in check and under their control)

i wish Zahn had more freedom to delve a bit deeper into the Old Republic's history, Clone Wars, formation of the Empire, Emperor's rise to power. anything he had in mind would have probably been a million times better.

Author
Time

Probably? Even his books about the Prequel era are pretty good! I can't imagine how great they would have been had he been able to craft his own backstory! He would have most likely written exceptionally about Anakin/Vader and the Old Republic...I feel like he was interested in that era a lot anyway (then George spoiled it...)

-Someone, someday, needs to bring back the LIGHT SIDE to Star Wars.  Has anyone else noticed striking similarites between the character of Anakin/Vader and George Lucas, or is it just me? 

-It's called STAR WARS. NOT "Episode IV: A New Hope". Kids, get this straight.  

-Please read the Archie Goodwin daily SW comics: Too good to be forgotten! 

Author
Time

American Hominid said:

... the original film has a sense of adventure and "haphazardness," ...

 

I've been meaning to weigh in on this discussion because it is the very reason why I'm a one-film-only fan.  I'll not bore the board - yet again - with the minutia of it all.  I will, however, point out that the essence of your statement is what spoke to me when I sat in the theater in 1977.

 

I think that Empire and Jedi, while they pile on the additional story mythology and relationships, do not fully shift the feel.

They may not fully shift the feel, but they very much get the ball rolling.  Empire starts the shift, Jedi completes it.  Can't speak to the tone of the prequels because I barely remember the only one I've seen. 

With a great deal of input from Marcia, Kurtz, and McQuarrie, Lucas got lucky in 1977.  A stand-alone film that works because it's stand-alone.  As soon as Lucas started trying to write more story, he ruined the story. The "adventure and "haphazardness," disappeared when Lucas shrunk the universe. Particularly the haphazardness of it all.

Where you see a shift in tone as the franchise goes along, I see it just the opposite.  To me, Star Wars is the only film in the series that didn't have that tone.  As I've stated before, I think Star Wars is the odd film out. 

Personally, I think the original Star Wars trailer is the best example of how different that film is from the rest of the franchise.  It's truly an adventure in a galaxy far far away, with a darker tone.  Actual darkness - not the cartoon darkness of the other 5 films.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

"Why are you here, Rey from nowhere?”

Author
Time

Baronlando said:

Indiana Jones is kind of unique ...

I agree.   Indiana Jones works as a series because each story is about a specific adventure he has when he takes some time off from teaching.  We've seen four of maybe fifteen or twenty adventures.  Adventures that don't have to rely on the others.  Adventures that work better because they don't rely on each other.  Each one is a stand-alone.

Star Trek is very similar in that regard.  Individual adventures that the crew goes on when they aren't back in San Francisco doing office work, or whatever it is they do here on Earth.  Continuing Education and training, I suppose.

There isn't a tone shift in those two franchises because the tone isn't being rewritten as it goes along.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

"Why are you here, Rey from nowhere?”

Author
Time

OzoneSherrif said:



CWBorne said:

Yeah, Lucas' original drafts refer to the good Ashla and evil Bogan parts of the Force, but they like so many other elements that more specifically defined it, were gradually dropped in succeeding version. Eventually it became the more  mysterious element of the galaxy that a variety of audiences found so interesting because it was ambiguous that you could read anything into it. 

In that regard its worth noting that ANH has Kenobi referring to Vader being seduced by just dark side, while the latter two films emphasize much more strongly that it was the Emperor himself who strongly lured him over, likely with his mastery of the dark side. Palpatine himself basically tells Darth that only their combined power can bring him over, and Yoda's last warning is that he cannot underestimate the Emperor's abilities. 

Clearly there was a shift that as bad as the dark side was, it was much more dangerous in the hands of experienced man like Palpatine. If there was cosmic element to the Force it seemed fairly malleable enough to whims of others, which fittingly enough could suggest an interesting backstory for the Emperor:

He wanted power, discovered he had the Force within him, learned of the abilities of the dark side, and then used it in subtle ways at the political level until he managed to get Anakin on his side, and proceeded to take out the biggest potential threat there was with the Jedi. Speaking for myself, Palpatine simply being an opportunist who found an effective means to get what he wanted is far more interesting than the quasi-fundamentalist Sith the prequels portrayed him as. 


i finally read the Heir to the Empire trilogy recently and not to majorly spoil anything but it is speculated in the book that the Emperor rose to power much in the same way Jorus C'baoth does (a partnership with the military at first, and that military believing they can keep him in check and under their control)

i wish Zahn had more freedom to delve a bit deeper into the Old Republic's history, Clone Wars, formation of the Empire, Emperor's rise to power. anything he had in mind would have probably been a million times better.


This is why I wish Zahn had been chosen to write most of the PT.

“Okay, I’m goin’, takin’ off. See ya… bye….” — Chip Douglas

“This concludes our broadcast day. Click.” — Chip Douglas

Author
Time

Well, even though I do think the entire OT rocks, it's very refreshing to see people who recognize the original Star Wars for the greatness that it really is and who doesn't gush over Empire endlessly and overzealously...and this is coming from an ESB super fan...but it is by no means this "sequel that tops the original" that everyone makes it out to be.  It's not The Dark Knight

-Someone, someday, needs to bring back the LIGHT SIDE to Star Wars.  Has anyone else noticed striking similarites between the character of Anakin/Vader and George Lucas, or is it just me? 

-It's called STAR WARS. NOT "Episode IV: A New Hope". Kids, get this straight.  

-Please read the Archie Goodwin daily SW comics: Too good to be forgotten! 

Author
Time

So the original Star Wars is like the Hobbit full of fun swashbuckling adventure.

Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are like Lord of the Rings for taking that fun swashbuckling adventure and giving it more weight. 

And the Prequels are like the Silmarillion for filling in a lot of extra details while not really being a particularly engaging story from beginning to end.

I've never been one to take real issue with the new Star Wars that has been created since Phantom Menace came along and has continued to this day.  But I will agree that there is a different feel to it all that I sometimes miss being able to have. 

"George, we hate you for making more Star Wars movies.  Please make more Star Wars movies."

-The Internet

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Anchorhead said:

American Hominid said:

... the original film has a sense of adventure and "haphazardness," ...

 

I've been meaning to weigh in on this discussion because it is the very reason why I'm a one-film-only fan.  I'll not bore the board - yet again - with the minutia of it all.  I will, however, point out that the essence of your statement is what spoke to me when I sat in the theater in 1977.

 

I think that Empire and Jedi, while they pile on the additional story mythology and relationships, do not fully shift the feel.

They may not fully shift the feel, but they very much get the ball rolling.  Empire starts the shift, Jedi completes it.  Can't speak to the tone of the prequels because I barely remember the only one I've seen. 

With a great deal of input from Marcia, Kurtz, and McQuarrie, Lucas got lucky in 1977.  A stand-alone film that works because it's stand-alone.  As soon as Lucas started trying to write more story, he ruined the story. The "adventure and "haphazardness," disappeared when Lucas shrunk the universe. Particularly the haphazardness of it all.

Where you see a shift in tone as the franchise goes along, I see it just the opposite.  To me, Star Wars is the only film in the series that didn't have that tone.  As I've stated before, I think Star Wars is the odd film out. 

Personally, I think the original Star Wars trailer is the best example of how different that film is from the rest of the franchise.  It's truly an adventure in a galaxy far far away, with a darker tone.  Actual darkness - not the cartoon darkness of the other 5 films.

My argument is a little different than that, though. The OT sequels did feel different than the original, no real argument there. However, the PT did something even beyond that, which is introduce the Chosen One plotline and a prophecy relating to the Force being "out of balance." I don't know how familiar you are with those things, not being a prequel viewer - but those are the big differences I see.

In the OT, even after the web of connections started becoming denser, it was still a political story and a personal one. It was not, I think, an overtly metaphysical one. By that I mean - in the OT, there is no reason to think that the Force could generate a person from nothing, let alone that this is actually the backstory to Anakin Skywalker. In the OT there is also no particular reason to think that the Force itself could be knocked "out of balance," whatever that even means. The addition of these elements - some of which have their origins in OT-era notes and thoughts, but are not explicit in any of the pre-PT films - elevates the characters and events to metaphysical significance, a stature that I don't think they had before.

These additions also put the Force-users in the absolute center of the setting, demoting smugglers, pilots, moisture farmers, bureaucrats, and the like to fiefdoms along the periphery of a universe that hinges on the actions of and relationships between demigods.

"Star Wars films are basically silent movies. And they're designed as silent movies, therefore the music carries a -- has a very large role in carrying the story, more than it would in a normal movie."  -GL

"NOO! NOOOOOO!!" - Darth Vader

Author
Time
 (Edited)

OzoneSherrif, that's really interesting about Zahn's idea of the Emperor being elevated to power by the military elite.... sort of like if Hitler were an evil wizard. (Hitler's turn as Chancellor came about largely due to the consent of the German military and political leaders, who hoped to control him and use him as a figurehead in their efforts to undermine Weimar democracy and reestablish authoritarian rule.)

Of course, such a backstory is incompatible with the Prequels' vision of Palpatine already being Supreme Chancellor for years and years.... but of course, Lucas' two, originally conflicting, versions of the Emperor--the Nixonian bureaucrat repeatedly elected to office in violation of term limits, and the Sith sorcerer who was a dark counterpart of Ben Kenobi--fully merged only during the PT.

“That Darth Vader, man. Sure does love eating Jedi.”

Author
Time
 (Edited)

With a great deal of input from Marcia, Kurtz, and McQuarrie, Lucas got lucky in 1977.  A stand-alone film that works because it's stand-alone.  As soon as Lucas started trying to write more story, he ruined the story. The"adventure and "haphazardness," disappeared when Lucas shrunk the universe. Particularly the haphazardness of it all.

I agree entirely with this poster.  The original is the one and only and everything since is fan-fiction.  Some of it is quite inspired and a lot of it is just awful - including 4 out of six of the of the films made for the cinema.  

Author
Time

When the old EU was being developed, the PT era was considered off limits by Lucas since he still held on to the possibility that he would make 1, 2, and 3.  Though this did eventually happen, I often wander how well a set of novels by, say, Timothy Zahn telling the story of Anakin's fall to the dark side might have turned out.

"George, we hate you for making more Star Wars movies.  Please make more Star Wars movies."

-The Internet

Author
Time

Darth Bizarro said:


When the old EU was being developed, the PT era was considered off limits by Lucas since he still held on to the possibility that he would make 1, 2, and 3.  Though this did eventually happen, I often wander how well a set of novels by, say, Timothy Zahn telling the story of Anakin's fall to the dark side might have turned out.


It was off limits, but it's interesting what little items the old EU writers assumed and put into their work. See this thread: http://originaltrilogy.com/forum/topic.cfm/The-Prequels-as-Envisioned-by-the-Pre-PT-Expanded-Universe/topic/14053/ for some info.

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!