Cinema – Episode 3: The Sound Revolution!

Welcome back!

The Sound Revolution: 1920-1930

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Steamboat Willie (1928) showed us how important a whistling mouse could be!

FADE IN:

EXT. DAY. A BUSY STREET.

Your HOST approaches you, waving amiably while being jostled by the crowd.

Intertitle: “I’m glad you could join me!”

Your host waves you inside a quieter building…

~~~

I’m sure, in the 20’s, people just assumed that all movies were going to be silent forever. If a time traveler approached a person and said, “So guess what! In my time, all movies have sound and they keep rebooting Spiderman!” The person would go, “What’s a spider man? And why would they need sound?? We can understand films just fine!”

But then, once they SAW a film with sound, jaws hit the floor en masse and the idea of a silent film became as passé as Baroque architecture pretty much overnight. Cinema changed irrevocably, and only looked back when it wanted to spoof or wax nostalgic about the genre.

But before this game changer exploded everyone’s brains, silent films reached their grandest, funniest, scariest, and most incredible heights.

This decade was AMAZING.

Charlie Chaplin, legendary funnyman, got his start at the end of the last decade, but it was in the 20’s that he was really able to blow everyone away. In his early film career, he was churning out something like a film every week at some points. They were two-reel affairs, nothing spectacular. But audiences saw something in him that just drew them back to theaters again and again, so when he made the transition to feature-length films (once Americans realized it was OK to have a film longer than two reels) with The Kid (1921), his popularity was so well established that he became a legend. He reached pretty amazing heights in The Gold Rush (1925), a comedy which featured his iconic tramp character in his most memorable role.  You may never look at shoes the same way…

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Mmm, tasty…

While we’re on the subject of comedy, one can’t ignore the sheer geniuses that are Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. If you haven’t seen Sherlock Jr. (1924) or Safety Last (1923), you are missing out on some pretty incredible comedy that is STILL hilarious today. A lot of the very early silent films, pre-1920’s, had a stiff quality to them as actors got used to the different needs of the camera as opposed to a needs of a stage audience, but by this point, actors knew how to work that camera. Safety Last is one of those movies that makes you cackle with hysteria while screaming in terror as the bumbling hero ends up scaling the side of a building and very nearly plummeting to his death on several occasions.

Sherlock Jr., my favorite Buster Keaton film, has a poor projectionist failing to catch a robber and then dreaming himself into a Sherlock Holmes film that he’s showing. He’s such a sad-faced guy, but he expresses EVERYTHING with his stance and gestures, and, as this wonderful article points out, the whole thing has a Wes Anderson-esque symmetry to it, which is crazy pleasing to the eye. It’s so delightful, and the stunts are pretty insane. Keaton seriously injured his neck while performing this one scene involving a water tower and a train, which is pretty metal. If you like Keaton (and you should!), you also need to check out his Civil War era comedy The General (1927).

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Just check out the composition of this scene from Sherlock Jr. (1924)!

There’s a lot of amazingness that happens in American film at this point (like the rise of Cecil B. deMille, Gloria Swanson’s and Greta Garbo’s compelling relationship with the camera, Lon Chaney’s iconic horror roles, the beginnings of Walt Disney’s animation studio, etc.) but we’re going to make a jump to some other stuff.

It’s nearly impossible to find these films, but during this decade, African Americans, long kept out of the film industry except as background actors here and there, started creating their own films on meager budgets (they didn’t have the support of any studios, mind you) and there’s some good stuff that was made, despite the limitations. One such surviving film is Body and Soul (1925) by Oscar Micheaux, a psychologically twisty film about two people, one good, one evil, who are played by the same actor. But the evil one ends up being revealed as the nightmare of one of the women. It’s nearly impossible to find now, but it’s a testament to all the many films that WEREN’T preserved during this time. It would be a LOOOOONG time before black filmmakers were able to make the films they wanted to make with the support of some sort of studio, but these early folks should be remembered.

Also, while American cinema was doing its thing, Swedish, German, and Soviet cinema was pushing boundaries as soon as they popped up. There’s this dude named Victor Sjöström who is most well known for his film The Phantom Carriage (1921), which featured the cool use of double images to convey moving between the world of the living and the dead, but he made several films during the 20s that displayed a real understanding of what film could be, especially in regards to his more naturalistic approach.

Sadly, not many of his films were ever shown in America (now the undisputed home of the film industry as WWI basically blew up Europe) until later on when he began making American films under the name Victor Seastrom. One GREAT film of his that I really like is The Wind (1928), a silent film featuring the legendary Lillian Gish as a woman living alone in the frontier, facing down irrational fear and brutal windstorms and coming to understand her own inner strength. It’s great, but people remember this one for Gish and not for the Swedish director who was way ahead of  his time. Swedish cinema wouldn’t be REALLY noticed until later, sadly. Germany, on the other hand, grabbed America’s attention earlier on.

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Pictured: Germany grabbing America’s attention with Nosferatu (1922)

There’s a misconception that German films at this time were expressionist. The truth was that the films that Americans noticed had a surreal quality to them that people responded to. Think of Nosferatu (1922) directed by F. W. Murnau, a creepy take on the Dracula story that’s hindered by the fact that none of the night scenes were shot at night. But nonetheless, the exaggerated visual style is super cool and folks across the pond loved. The other was Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari (1920), whose bizarre sets stemmed from restrictions on materials and power set down by the German government at the time. To save money, they went for a cardboard theater look, accidentally creating an aesthetic that folks liked because it felt fresh. At this point, modernism was in full swing, and the search for something new was all that mattered. But there were many German films made during this time that weren’t expressionistic/surrealist.

The thing that really makes this era and place cool is that filmmakers were reacting to a time of crazy change in Germany. The country had gone from falling apart after WWI to fighting to reassemble itself with the help of a political party that, by the 1920’s, would be led by a scary fellow called Adolf Hitler (you may have heard of him). During this time, there was this false sense of success that pervaded German life. Their defeat could be blamed on the Jews, but since they wouldn’t be a part of the picture soon (according to the propaganda) they figured Hitler could make Germany great again. So there was this weird contrast between the hedonistic joy of those who were celebrating Germany’s revival as a great nation and the reality of what was really going on. German filmmakers had a lot of material to explore.

This leads me to Metropolis (1926), a crazy cool film by legendary director Fritz Lang, that works because of its layers of metaphor and meaning. It was very obviously commenting on current events, but the Nazi’s didn’t mind it because the evil mad scientist at the center of it was portrayed as a Jew (or at least suggested to be a Jew as the Star of David features into his decor). Man as a piece in a heartless machine, robot women, overt sexuality that would make modern audiences squirm, unrest of the worker class facing replacement by machines, corruption of the wealthy class, crazy sets, and a nightmarish visual quality make this one a fun film to unpack. There’s a lot going on, and what makes me both happy and sad is that this film continues to be relevant to current events.

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And we’re still dealing with robot gals and Nazis…

You’d think we’d learn, but whatever.

It’s a huge magnificent movie, and is one of the greatest silent films of all time (even though many critics would disagree, saying it’s too heavy-handed and focused on visuals instead of story).

Before we move on to the movie that broke the Silent Era, I need to mention Bronenosets Potemkin (the Battleship Potemkin), a Soviet silent film from 1925 directed by a fellow named Sergei Eisenstein (who is AMAZING). It’s a brutal depiction of an unsuccessful pre-Revolution uprising that of course casts the monarchy and their soldiers as the brutal unfeeling villains while the revolutionaries who are slaughtered are depicted as heroes. It’s an exaggerated take on history, marinating in propaganda, but it does capture the spirit of those in Russia who were tired of being treated poorly by those in charge. Eisenstein blew everyone away with his editing style, which created character and mood by cutting together quick and powerful shots in epic montages. The most devastating scene is the famous Odessa Steps scene where women and children are gunned down by Imperial soldiers. It could easily be a chaotic mishmash of closeups and long shots, but it works really well and moves the story along with brutal efficiency. It’s an intense film that definitely deserves a watch.

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I dare you to not hold your breath during the Odessa Steps sequence. It’s gripping…

Alright, so with a film about revolution, we’ll move on to the film that changed everything with a sort of revolution of its own.

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But what a fun revolution The Jazz Singer was! If you ignore the blackface scenes, that is…

Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer (1927) changed everything when its title character says, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothing yet!” Studios had experimented with sound before, but it was difficult to get the sound and film to synch up. It wasn’t until film that could record sound was invented that things really took off. After The Jazz Singer, Walt Disney made the first cartoon with synchronized sound, Steamboat Willie (1928), that refined the film-sound relationship. Then Alfred Hitchcock got in on the game with Blackmail (1929) (and since it was Hitchcock, it was amazing).

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Blackmail was cool because it uses sound to distort reality and demonstrate people’s psychological states.

Also of note is the film Applause (1929), directed by Rouben Mamoulian, which got around a lot of the technical necessities that made many early talkies feel sort of flat. Normally, the new microphones were locked into a single place, so for the dialogue to be picked up, the actors had to stay near the microphone, which sent films back to the early film days where everyone acted as though they were on a limited stage space, losing so many of the amazing film innovations that silent film directors had pioneered. But Applause actually allowed for a moving camera once again by using early looping and sound editing. Another amazing film was Hallelujah (1929), notable for featuring an all-black cast, which expanded further the limits of sound technology by creating a whole sound landscape, not just with dialogue and some music.

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I really need to get my hands on this one, eventually. The Jazz Singer gets the credit for starting this, but Hallelujah one feels more innovative.

After that, film was never the same. The speed by which people embraced sound, sometimes at the expense of the stars who were unable to adapt to the changing requirements of talkies, was so abrupt and jarring that it’s become a film trope, showing up in movies like Sunset Boulevard (1950), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), and The Artist (2011).

But we’ll get there later!

This has been a crazy decade, so thank you for putting up with this extra long post. There’s a LOT that I had to leave out.

See you next week!

 

Sources:

Gabler, Neal. Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.

Shipman, David. The Story of Cinema.

Sklar, Robert. A World History of Film.

And This Article by Noel Murray, Keith Phipps, Nathan Rabin, and Scott Tobias

Cinema – Episode 2: The Rise of Hollywood

Hello again!

The Rise of Hollywood: 1910-1920

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From The Lonely Villa (1909), featuring a young Mary Pickford (in the back)

FADE IN:

INT. NIGHT. AN OLD THEATER.

Your HOST approaches you in old fashioned attire and beckons you to a dusty seat. Once he’s sure you’re comfortably situated, he moves to the projection room and starts up the ancient machine…

~~~

Now we’re in the heyday of the Silent Era! Whoo! Actually, I should specify that we’re now in the heydey of the AMERICAN silent era. France and Italy were killing it already, but American filmmakers lacked the finesse that made the French and Italian films so ahead of their time. One cool film American studios put out before this was The Great Train Robbery (1903) by a dude named Edwin S. Porter (one of Edison’s people). His career in film didn’t last super long, but he pioneered the jump from cinema as real-life spectacle (filming everyday events like crooks getting arrested or firemen working) to something with a story! The Great Train Robbery was pretty cool, (yay, first Western film!) but it would be a while before American cinema would be able to stand up to European films and actually attain the level of actual art.

The means by which that was accomplished is kind of a fun story.

And by fun story, I mean World War I happened and blew up Europe and America kind of came out on top by default…

So, basically Hollywood (which came into being in this decade, but I’ll talk about that later) got a free pass early on and it’s been riding that wave for a while.

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D. W. Griffith basically lied about everything but was talented enough to become crazy successful… I guess that’s the American dream?

But while we’re talking about American films, let’s talk about a dude named D. W. Griffith, who was STOKED at riding the new film trend to its height. Now Griffith was a bit of a huckster, but nobody really cared much about his wild claims that he single-handedly came up with most of the filming and acting techniques that made film so cool because he was a legitimately good director. Cross-cutting was his trademark, jumping back and forth between two scenes to ramp up tension. The Voice of a Child (1911) was only 14 minutes long, but it used 90 separate shots, which is crazy excessive compared to the 30-40 shots in most films of the day.

Another film that was pretty important was The Lonely Villa (1909), which Griffith legit stole from Pathé (remember him from last week?). He used the same story (the original was called Physician of the Castle )and reshot it with new actors and locations. But Griffith’s version feels more like a movie and not just a filmed stage show (which many early films felt like). Cross-cutting and a focus on atmosphere went a long way towards establishing the FEEL of a movie as a separate thing from theater.

So I guess the moral is only steal something if you can do it better?

No, don’t do that. Stealing is wrong.

Borrowing is OK, though.

Anyways, Griffith’s focus on USING the camera as a narrative tool was awesome because it meant that you could tell a story without it having to be explained (which many early films required). This is also the time when intertitles become the norm, either for showing a line of dialogue that can’t be implied or commenting on the action or whatever).

Now, another cool thing that happened in this decade was the shift toward longer films. In Griffith’s early days, the norm was single reel films (ten to fifteen minutes). In Europe, there were some longer films, obviously, but they weren’t taken seriously in America until this sweet Italian dude named Giovanni Pastrone made this super cool two-reel film called La Caduta di Troia (The Fall of Troy) in 1910. It was pretty legit. It even featured color-tinted scenes to suggest environment or atmosphere. So, naturally, people were all, “We want more of that! That’s cool!”

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La Caduta di Troia (1913) featured some sweet sets and pretty costumes

Another cool epic was Quo Vadis? (1913) an adaptation from the famous novel about Christians and Pagans in Rome. It was directed by Enrico Guazzoni, and was so huge and amazing and elaborate that the thought of going back to teeny tiny one-reels made as much sense as trading in horse drawn carriages for thin walking shoes.

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Quo Vadis? was kind of a big deal, you guys. And it would be remade later on during another period of obsession with really Big Epics

So, D. W. Griffith, his ego bruised at the amazingness of the Italians, was all, “Yeah, well I can make a huge cool epic! Just you watch! I invented all of this! So, he made The Birth of a Nation (1915).

Sigh.

I guess I should explain that sigh. OK, so America made some great progress after the Civil War, and the slaves were freed and things still sucked for them, but at least now the African American population had some allies in the government (kind of). But move forward to 1915 and America had become WAY more racist. Like, full on white supremacy and people believing in a Nazi-esque obsession with racial purity. Segregation became more highly enforced around this time. So, since Griffith was happily ensconced as a racist piece of garbage with all his money and position, he realized that his version of history would be important because he believed that desegregation was super dangerous because white women would be in greater danger of being raped.

Hence the sigh.

So, in his version of American history, the Ku Klux Klan are the heroes, fighting to save America from the “barbarian” tendencies of the black people, who were all depicted as stupid and evil stereotypes. It’s so gross that this film is so highly regarded from a filmmaking standpoint because its subject matter is so awful. In one sequence, Klan members are seen rushing to save a white woman from being defiled by “evil black people.” At the time of its release, the brand new NCAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) were justifiably horrified by the film and fought to get it banned, but of course that didn’t happen.

The film made millions of dollars from enthusiastic viewers.

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Note the use of the word “supreme” on the poster…

Just remember, folks: Swastikas are banned in Germany, but The Birth of a Nation is just considered “controversial” in America even though it is literally a hate crime in film form.

Allow me another sigh.

OK, so let’s move on to other matters.

Hollywood.

This decade is when Hollywood became a thing. And the way that happened is actually pretty funny.

So, films were super popular with regular folks and it wasn’t considered a “high class” thing like going to the opera or symphony. So of course people began to rail on about cinema being an “immoral” thing, corrupting people with scenes of violence and sexuality that were going to make them into terrible people. So, the National Board of Censorship of Motion Pictures was created to control the production of films. But it wasn’t able to do much. That honor eventually went to The Motion Picture Patents Company (a trust of several early film magnates including Edison and Kodak) who tried to standardize American film and make American films able to compete with the more awesome European films. They also had the most power to control what was made because they controlled the film materials and distribution.

Well, this eventually became restrictive and folks migrated as far as they could away from the Patents Company because they wanted to make their own films without having to kowtow to the limitations of the Company. One person who fought the influence of this trust was William Fox (yes, that Fox), a theater rental company owner (and German-Jewish immigrant from Hungary), who was powerful enough to oppose them. He sued the company for restraint of trade and toppled the trust’s monopoly on film distribution. Fox himself went on to become an independent filmmaker in 1912, and then formed the Fox Film Corporation in 1915 (the “Twentieth Century” was added in 1935).

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The next time Fox News complains about immigrants ruining everything, someone should remind them that they are literally named after an immigrant…

Another opponent of the Patents Company was Carl Laemmle, future creator of Universal studios. He was also a German Jewish fellow who started out as a book keeper. He created his own film production company, The Independent Motion Picture Company (IMP), in California. In 1913, IMP became Universal. Like Fox, he chose California because it was far away from the Patents Company (remember, this was before widespread globalization and such a thing was possible). They chose the L.A. area because it was close to the Mexican border. If the Patents Company filed any formal charges against them, the independents could easily slip across the border away from their influence.

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Proof that running away from your problems can sometimes be a good thing.

The area they chose was informally called Hollywood and the name stuck. It was also around this time that the star system began to take hold, with studios advertising films based on their stars rather than their content or their directors.

Before I wrap this decade up, I wanted to mention that “silent” films weren’t all that silent. The film itself couldn’t record sound, but the screening of a film was accompanied by live music (not just a piano, but sometimes bands or small orchestras), sound effects, narration, and even spoken dialogue by actors to accompany what was said on the screen. They were engaging three-dimensional productions that were a far cry from the bouncy piano we often associate with silent films.

Silent films were pretty rad.

Next up, we’ll be heading into the 20’s, which is where films get MASSIVE.

I’m excited.

See you then!

Also, here are my sources! I’m only as smart as the books I hijacked (legally) from the library, after all!

Shipman, David. The Story of Cinema.

Sklar, Robert. A World History of Film

Cinema – Episode 1: The Dawn of Film!

New series!

So, I’ve been itching to do something research-y. And so here we go! Each week, I’ll look at a specific decade in film history, and it’s going to be EPIC. I’m stoked.

So let’s do this!

The Dawn of Film: Beginnings to 1910

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August and Louis Lumiére being BAMFS!

FADE IN.

EXT. DAY. A FIELD.

Your charming HOST approaches you, his magnificent black coat flapping heroically in the breeze. You don’t know what to expect…

~~~

We have a few people to thank for getting this crazy train going, but I won’t list them all as the orchestra will probably play me off the stage. So let’s keep this simple.

Thank you, George Eastman for inventing celluloid roll film in 1888! You rock!

And thank you, Thomas Edison, for stealing other people’s ideas and taking credit for them. So thank you to Edison’s ASSISTANT, W.K.L Dickson, for developing the Kinetoscope, the first film viewer in 1890. Very clever.

And thank you to the Lumiére brothers, August and Louis, for inventing the first projector and for producing the first film in 1895! I’m sorry the public thought your films were boring…

But then, like fidget spinners and pogs, the novelty caught on! And films went from weird, “Let’s sit/stand in this awkward room and watch short scenes” affairs to a legit entertainment fad! And that brings me to the nickelodeons! Yes, kids, it wasn’t just a TV channel obsessed with slime and Spongebob!

But these films were basically just, “check out this sweet train” or “this is a tree,” or “you ever wanted to see Mary Queen of Scots decapitated? Well here’s your chance…just ignore the fact that it’s obviously a dummy” types of affairs.

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No but Hollywood has only been obsessed with violence in recent years! In the good old days, every movie was about bibles and hugs!

Then, a French dude by the name of Georges Méliès came along and injected narrative into these films! And it makes me feel less like a failure in life because he got started at the age of 34, which in those days was like, late middle age. So I’ve got time to invent some sweet world-changing thingamabob yet!

Anyways.

Méliès had a freaky side that I TOTALLY respect and he made such films as L’Escomtage d’um Dame (1896) in which a woman gets gruesomely transmogrified into a skeleton, or Le Chaudron Infernale (1903) which features dancing ghosts! he was also a huge Jules Verne fan (*fist bump*) and made a few shorts inspired by that wacky Frenchman’s awesome brain. One such film, Voyage à Travers l’Impossible (1904) was one of the first (if not THE first) film to use TWO reels instead of just one, which is pretty cool.

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Méliès’ Barbe Bleue (1901) a fun family-friendly adaptation of the Bluebeard story! Just with lots of dead women hanged in a secret chamber…

This is when people were all, “I freaking love this!” and cinema was a legit thing and not just a goofy sideshow act.

Méliès was also the inventor of the “dramatic televised court case” thing in which a trial is turned into sensationalized entertainment which people at home eat up like candy (think O.J. Simpson or Casey Anthony). His L’Affair Dreyfus (1899) was a reconstruction of a famous court case that dialed the drama up and tweaked reality to make it more exciting.

He also made publicity films for companies, another first. Advertising was obviously already a thing, but you can thank this guy for annoying commercials (“Head on! Apply directly to the forehead!”) since he went and got that ball rolling.

But moving on from Méliès!

Let’s talk about a dude named Charles Pathé (there’s a production company named after him, actually. They helped produce films like Slumdog Millionaire and Selma!). He was the great grandfather of the current studio model. Films were popular, but Pathé created the Film Studio *castle thunder sound effect* and turned film into an industry.

Also, if you think the current trend of remakes is a new thing, think again. They were there from the beginning. Rescued by Rover (1905), a film by a British dude, Cecil Hepworth, about a heroic dog who saves a lost child was so crazy popular that it was remade twice so more people could see it! Dogs are the best, so I totally understand them turn-of-the-century cinema-goers.

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Rescued by Rover (1905) – Lassie’s such a cheap knockoff of this handsome virtuous animal!

And, because I love animation, I’ll have to mention that, too. Animation popped up at the end of the aughts with Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906), The Haunted House (1908) and Gertie the Dinosaur (1914), which was later used in a wonderful vaudeville act in which the live dude, Winsor McKay (great name!) interacts with Gertie on the screen. Here’s a link through the magic of YouTube! It’s super cute. And I love the meta intro in which the animator bets he can make a picture move.

Now, I’m going to pause here to point out a shocking thing. I have discovered a bit of an inconsistency in which Wikipedia (*heaves*) is right and a book–a published authoritative book!–is wrong. I know. It’s horrible. So, one of my sources, David Shipman’s massive tome The Story of Cinema, says that Gertie the Dinosaur was released in 1909. But multiple other online sources, including Wikipedia, state that it was actually released in 1914. Some scholarly article way back when erroneously stated that Gertie came about in 1909 and everyone after that just kept repeating it, assuming it’s true. You’ll see this in scholarly articles written by Very Smart Poeple as well as cheapy sensationalist drivel. So, if you’re a college student and your teacher says that Wikipedia isn’t reliable, they’re still right, BUT you can counter that with, “But what if the information I find on Wikipedia is corroborated elsewhere??” My thanks also to this fantastic article on Gertie for reassuring me that I’m not crazy, and the loveable animated dinosaur did in fact come about in 1914.

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Check out this cutie!

Anyways, the end of the aughts.

Film was now a legitimate industry and everyone was experimenting with new stuff. Would you believe that even close ups were considered weird and shocking at one point? Filmmakers didn’t think audiences would be able to accept an image of a person in motion unless all of them were visible, which is fun. But a number of filmmakers tried it anyways and people didn’t panic, so that’s nice.

Before I go, I have to mention L. Frank Baum, creator of The Wizard of Oz. The first book in the series (there were 14 ultimately) was published in 1900, and he had some crazy ideas about building a media empire around his fantasy creation (Walt Disney would make this a reality later on). But Baum is influential in that he explored many experimental means of bringing his story to life. A fun traveling show called the Fairylogue and Radio-Plays (1908) used trick photography, film, and stage actors to create a bunch of neat effects, but the production bankrupted Baum, who was HORRIBLE with money (I hear you, buddy). His earliest surviving silent film adaptation of his first book was released in 1910 as a way to recoup some of his losses, and it did OK, but it wasn’t the breakout hit he intended. It’s a weird one, though, featuring a zany cow and a crazy over-the-top witch. But it was successful enough that a few film sequels were made.

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Someday, I hope to command as much fear, er, I mean, respect as this witch here.

His dream of riding the new film fad to success would not pan out, tragically, but he saw the potential, and was just a little too ahead of his time.

We still love you, Baum.

And with Oz, we make it to the end of this chapter! Whooo!

Next up, we’re gonna check out the 1910’s!

See you then!

~~~

Sources (because I assure you I’m not just making this up!)

Canby, Vincent, and Janet Maslin. The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.

Shipman, David. The Story of Cinema.

Sklar, Robert. A World History of Film.

and special thanks to the Silent-Ology blog by Lea S. for proving that one must always research and double-research facts!

 

In A Galaxy Far Far Away – The Force Awakens

This is the part where Leia comes stomping down the hallway, yelling, “I just cleaned up this galaxy! Look what you idiots did to it!”

It’s cool that Star Wars is continuing, but the very fact that this new trilogy exists kind of steps on the amazing celebration at the end of RotJ. So, it’s nice to know that the New Republic is doomed, the Empire is destined to be reborn, and Luke’s new Jedi Academy was a failure. Sigh.

But it’s OK! Because everything will fall back into balance eventually…hopefully. So let’s do this!

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Episode Number: 7 — Released: 2015 — Production Number: 7

A New New Hope

Anakin Skywalker’s story is complete, but now we’ve got his legacy, and people are messing stuff up. But we’ve got newbies! And they’re pretty great!

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Rey is awesome. I love her so much, but I have this horrible feeling that, as she grows throughout the series, she’s going to lose her giddy enthusiasm. I’m cool with her getting more confident and powerful, but I don’t want her to become dour and serious. We’ll see how things go.

Also, I get the feeling that the whole “mystery of Rey’s parentage” is actually a red herring. I’m pretty sure her parents were just nobody’s, and she’ll end up being adopted into the Skywalker/Solo clan and will play a part (probably) in rehabbing Kylo Ren.

I just finished reading the book Bloodline (which IS part of the new canon) and it was AMAZING, especially for fans of Leia (which, I’m sure we ALL are), but Luke and Ben were off doing their own thing the whole time and didn’t show up (I suspect they’ll get their own book once The Last Jedi comes out), and there was LOTS of reminiscing about the past, and nowhere did she mention a girl left on Jakku. She did mention Hux who had a place to play in the battle of Jakku, but no mention of Rey. So, she’s probably not a Solo. She may still be a Skywalker, but that seems unlikely. Unless, they’re going to have Luke give her an “I am your father” moment.

We’ll see.

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And Finn! He’s literally a Star Wars nerd made manifest in the Star Wars universe. He’s got a lot of potential angst that could really mess him up, but he still knows how to smile and be goofy and nerd out over cool stuff. Again, an orphan, though I don’t think his parentage is as important to the story since his big thing is he’s a faceless stormtrooper who rediscovers his individuality. Perhaps he has a bit of Force sensitivity which allowed him to fight through his mental conditioning, which allowed him to defect.

I heart Finn and can’t wait for the poor guy to recover in the next movie. He got pretty messed up in the last film…

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Shout out to Poe, also for being hunky and amazing, which is hard to do when one is named after a Teletubby. The eyes balance things out. And the fact that the filmmakers changed their mind about killing him off and transforming him from Plot Device to Actual Character. So we’ll see him again!

The Old Guard

It was cool to see Han again, but like, we’ve seen Harrison Ford in lots of stuff. But seeing Luke and Leia again was the real highlight of this one. I’m sad Leia doesn’t show up until a fair ways into the movie, but OMG she’s so wonderful. I feel like all the fans are going to just cry a whole bunch during The Last Jedi just because it will be Carrie Fisher’s last movie.

Here’s a picture of her because she’s so amazing.

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Luke is still a complete mystery. Obviously, he tried to rebuild the Jedi Academy and that didn’t go well… Poor Luke…

And Han… It’s awesome we got to see Han Solo in action one last time. *sobs* And we got to see him fix things with Leia. Still in the dark over exactly what happened between them. But Han and Chewie are still an amazing pair. And I really really want more material about Itty Bitty Ben and how Chewie was like his living jungle gym.

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No book or comic has dealt with Ben’s downfall yet, so we’ll have to see what’s up with that. Star Wars isn’t one for flashbacks, but there is a precedent for explanations from a Ghostly Obi-Wan. We can only hope Rey or Finn gets a visit from Obi-Wan or Yoda or even Anakin himself and some of the gaps about the ultimate fall of the Republic and stuff. In Bloodline, we see the New Republic give in to corruption and Leia does something about that (because she’s awesome) but the specifics behind how the changeover from Republic to First Order are still fuzzy.

But I remember that we used to freak out over who Sifo Dyas was and how he would fit into the RotS…and he’s literally never mentioned again because he wasn’t that important ultimately. So, I guess I’ll be patient. *vibrates in seat with giddy excitement*

Return of the . . . Well Not the Sith, but, like . . . the Dark Side

I’m just gonna say it: I like Kylo Ren. He was obviously shoved into this position of authority by Snoke who hopes to use his Force powers to suit his own needs. Ben would have obviously loved that even though he’s not old enough or strong enough to really pull it off. He’s crazy powerful in the Force, but he has no discipline. And that’s what makes him so dangerous. He’s a human bomb waiting to go off.

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I’m super excited to see how his story plays out. Will he be redeemed like Anakin? Or will they pull a Legacy and have him die at someone’s hands (probably Rey)? I’m super excited. I REALLY hope he’s redeemed and then becomes an ally in the fight against the First Order.

But we’ll see.

Conclusion

The biggest thing about this movie as it sits right now is that there’s not much to say because there’s so much of the story missing. Once we get more info, it will fit in the timeline a bit better. Right now, it’s like that map to Luke’s hiding place: incomplete.

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We need to hear from Luke what happened to his Jedi Academy. We need to hear from Leia how the First Order arose. And we need to hear from Maz Kanata that important story that she said she’d tell but didn’t.

We need answers!

Hopefully The Last Jedi provides said answers…

Our Next “In a Galaxy Far Far Away” will take place in December! See you then!

Next week we’ll have some fun new stuff!

 

In a Galaxy Far Far Away – Return of the Jedi

Another trilogy ends! This one’s a super good one. We’ve got a bunch of feels and some awesome action sequences, and we’ve got Jabba the Hutt who’s pretty fantastic…and gross…but fantastic.

But mostly we get a bunch of Anakin closure. I know Luke’s great and whatever, but this whole wacky sextet of original films is Anakin’s story, and this one, of course, is his redemption after going Full Evil in the last one.

Plus, we’ve got Luke attaining Full Jedi status, which is a HUGE improvement from Mr. Whiney McToyspaceships in ANH. AND! We get Lando redeeming himself and becoming the hero we all knew he always was.

I really like this movie, you guys!

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Episode Number: 6 — Released: 1983 — Production Number: 3

The End of the Beginning

I know, since the Sequel Trilogy became a thing, the series is, for all intents and purposes, “unfinished,” but this is the most satisfying ending ever. We’ve got Luke figuring stuff out and putting on his big-kid outfit and ending up the first of a new class of Jedi, which is fun. Though, the sad thing is that he doesn’t know that double-bladed lightsabers are a thing . . .

Anyway.

But it also is a finale to the first six films, redeeming Vader who finally embraces his destiny as the Chosen One and is all sorts of awesome and selfless and cool. He ends his life as Anakin Skywalker, not Darth Vader (which is simultaneously amazing and sad because Vader is pretty sweet). It ties up the loose ends and returns the story back to the beginning.

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Now, obviously there’s more to say, of course. Will Leia rebuild the Republic? Will Luke spread the teachings of the Jedi to new students? Will Han man up and ask Leia to marry him? Will Lando continue to be AMAZING?

But it’s all a part of that sort of foggy “happily ever after” stuff that readers REALLY WANT TO SEE but stories never address (which is why fan fiction exists!)

We did get a bunch of amazing (and some not-so-amazing) books that continued the story, and some of it was awesome. Han and Leia got married. They had three kids (one died and one became a Sith, but…you know…they had some good stuff before that!) Luke opened a new Jedi Academy and recruited some amazing talent like Corran Horn (who’s completely fictional and never even showed up in any TV shows or anything and yet I totally have a crush on him) and dealt with an ENDLESS parade of superweapons. Leia became Chief of State for the New Republic and then thought, “UGH, politics suck,” and started studying the Jedi ways. There was a bunch of invasions, most notably the Yuuzhan Vong who just messed everything up.

But if we’re talking about the movies, this is no longer The End because now we jump ahead a bunch and see that things really didn’t go well after RotJ and now there’s a whole bunch of new stuff that our heroes have to deal with.

But we’ll get to the new trilogy as it progresses.

Let’s talk about Jedi.

Like My Father Before Me

Luke grows up a BUNCH between Empire and this one, but you get the feeling it’s not a very healthy sort of growing up. The guy’s become so inward and serious that he’s almost emotionless, especially at the beginning. The confrontation with Vader on Bespin REALLY messed him up and he’s clearly not coping well. Sure, he’s more reserved and stuff, but he is so INWARD that, at times, you just want to give him a hug and ask if he’s OK. Now, part of that might be the director. I know that Han is a lot more reserved in this one, too, compared to Empire, but still.

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Someone give Luke a hug. I guess it’s safe to say that Luke is the same age that Anakin was when he fell to the dark side. Anakin had a lot more personality. He was more conflicted, less stable, and the victim of Palpatine’s CONSTANT manipulation. Luke only meets Palpatine at the end, and though he knows how to push Luke’s buttons, Luke is a much LESS malleable person at this point than Anakin was. Luke is clammed up tight and terrified of letting his guard down again (whereas, after Anakin’s disastrous fight with Dooku, he was desperate for a chance to get more powerful and meet Dooku again).

So, while I do find Luke to be a bit cold here, it totally fits the character, and it’s nice to see him open up to Leia at the end and sort of find some stability in knowing that she’s his sister, and they’re sort of a matched pair trying to make sense of what it means to be the children of the most feared man in the galaxy.

You Don’t Know the Power of the Dark Side

And then we get a very different Vader, too. This is the main reason why I love this one so much. In Empire, Vader is TERRIFYING. He is this immovable wall of scary that Luke goes running into, and he nearly kills Han Leia and Chewie in his desperation to get Luke to join him in taking over the Empire. This is Vader at Peak Evil. he wants to rule the Empire, and he wants to use Luke to make that happen.

In this one, he’s still imposing, but there’s this teeeeeeeeeeny tiny part of him that’s started feeling remorse for literally everything he’s done. AND he’s finally able to see that the Emperor isn’t just an obstacle to be defeated in his mad scramble for power; the Emperor is the warden who has Vader chained to him. Vader isn’t REALLY a free agent. He’s a slave. Even though he rose up OUT of slavery as a kid, he’s found himself right back where he started, enslaved to a corrupt power that robs him of his right to be in charge of his own destiny.

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In Empire, he says, “You don’t know the power” in the sense that he’s saying, “IT’S SO AWESOME! IF ONLY YOU KNEW!” But in this one, he says it to basically mean, “You don’t know how impossible it is to escape,” and it’s SO SAD because you can tell he isn’t even sure if Luke can defeat the Emperor, but all he has left at this point is to use Luke to free himself from the Emperor’s influence.

He’s sort of lost a bit of his mojo because he realizes (again or for the first time) that the Emperor did this to him. He kept him from being able to realize his full Force potential by using him to rise to power.

And that makes Vader in this one SUPER complex and interesting.

I just love it.

Vile Gangster

Can we talk about Jabba? Please? I promise I’ll be fast.

But I love Jabba, not really as a role model, but as a character.

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Not only do we get a reminder of Anakin’s slavery beginnings (since the Hutts are the ones who control the slave trade on Tatooine) in the movie where he is redeemed, but we really get to see some proper “scum and villainy.” Obi-Wan made Mos-Eisley out to be this horrific den of thieves, and we got a bustling spaceport with some crumbly areas. But with Jabba (whose palace is a monastery for these freaky monks who want to be disembodied brains) we get a wonderfully gooey, dusty look at what makes Tatooine such a scary place.

And for a foam puppet, Jabba is still one of Star Wars’ weirdest and most memorable villains. And he literally doesn’t move. He just reclines. And then he reclines on his sail barge. But then Leia kills him so all is good. But he’s a great villain, completely different from all the other villains we’ve met. When you see him in TPM, he’s kind of sleepy and spaced out. And then you see him in ANH and he’s the slimy businessman, and then you see him here and he’s just literal corruption personified.

Plus he’s got a pet rancor who’s the best monster ever.

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I love the rancor. Again, an example of what REALLY GOOD puppetry is like. And I know Lucas was sort of disappointed that they weren’t able to get a really dynamic performance out of the rancor puppet and would have preferred a computer generated character, but like the rancor works so well because it possesses a tangible quality that CGI just can’t replicate. Maybe it could have worked if it was a few years later and folks had taken the Jurassic Park approach, blending puppets and really good CGI, but I’m totally happy with the rancor is all its terrifying awesomeness as is.

I want a pet rancor.

Conclusion

I know I haven’t spoken much of anyone else, but this is really a Vader/Luke story. Han and Leia finally get together as a legit couple, but we knew that was going to happen. Lando blows up the second Death Star and becomes a hero of the Rebellion. Chewie continues to be amazing. The droids continue to be amazing. Everyone else has sort of figured themselves out and figured out how they fit into the galaxy. There’s no regrets or doubts with them. Obviously Leia is going to take some time to come to terms with the fact that Vader was her dad, but for the most part, they all make sense. Luke was the only one who sort of bounced about the edges trying to figure himself out. And then we’ve got Vader who, when the Emperor visits, is suddenly reminded of just how weak he really is.

And then Luke and Vader meet and end up “fixing” one another, which I think is just marvelous.

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In terms of the future, I really want the next TV series to focus on Han and Leia rebuilding the New Republic with Luke resurrecting the Jedi. It can fill in the gaps of what happened with Leia’s son and it has LOTS of time to mess around with in the space between RotJ and TFA. Mostly I just really want Han and Leia’s wedding, Luke being a wise teacher with imposter syndrome, and Lando getting bored with being a hero and getting into fun adventurous shenanigans on the side.

*shoots Lucasfilm a knowing look*

But we’ll just have to see how things play out.

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So now we’re moving on to the new trilogy!

See you next week with The Force Awakens!

In A Galaxy Far Far Away – The Empire Strikes Back

I know this one’s the critical darling and literally everyone on Earth says it’s their favorite, but my favorite is actually RotJ. HOWEVER, this one introduces my favorite Star Wars character, features my favorite battle, and ends up at my favorite location, so it’s a super good one!

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Episode Number: 5 — Released: 1980 — Production Number: 2

From Farmboy to Freedom Fighter

So, I heart Luke, but the opening crawl is all, “freedom fighters, led by Luke Skywalker,” and I’m all, “Um, no, Leia is leading them.” Luke may lead Rogue Squadron (which they appear to have created in between the first movie and this one to celebrate Jyn and Cassian and all their amazing friends who captured the Death Star plans), but he isn’t in charge of the rebellion yet…

But anyway.

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He’s in a weird midway point here, which is fun. He’s still impatient and defeatist when things get rough, but he feels a lot more put together, which is nice. He doesn’t whine anymore. So see, there’s already hope for him! He’s waaaay past the point where his father was in his development. He doesn’t feel like he deserves anything, but he is so devoted to THE CAUSE that he has trouble pulling himself out of the situation and thinking rationally, which is understandable.

But it’s nice to see Padme’s more grounded genes kicking in and Luke not being a whine-factory who is sad because he doesn’t own his own planet or whatever.

All You Need is Love

Overall, one of the best things about this one is the Han/Leia romance. When you watch these in story order (rather than production order), it’s a huge relief to see a healthy romance finally.

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And it’s hysterical because they spend most of their time arguing, while Anakin and Padme had lots of quiet talky scenes in which she was wearing romantic outfits and he smiled a lot. Leia wears a pretty-but-practical outfit on Bespin, but for the most part, she’s wearing survival gear that match the fact that they’re on the run and there are no shopping malls to be had. So, take note, folks. The secret to a healthy relationship isn’t beautiful dresses and romantic conversation. It’s snark and mutual respect.

I just really love Han and Leia so much. They’re the perfect couple. He never takes advantage of her and she never has to give up any of her authority or brain cells to make things work. They just fit together and it makes me so happy.

And Vader

And Vader is, of course, AMAZING. He goes through a million admirals in this one, which gives Piett the fastest promotion track in the Empire, jumping him from Captain to Admiral in a matter of days. I think it’s nice that Vader doesn’t kill Piett at the end when the Falcon escapes, even though you can tell from Piett’s face hat he’s totally expecting that.

But Vader, since he doesn’t have a HUGE arc, is more the Lurking Menace behind everything.

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But once he’s finally able to get to Luke and try to convert him (to further his own plans for being Emperor), you can see something shake loose in him right after Luke jumps down into that impossible infinite pit. And I think that’s why he doesn’t kill Piett. He’s distracted by other thoughts. I mean, meeting Luke would have OBVIOUSLY reminded him of Padme and of his own horrible mistakes, and I love that, though Vader is still pretty deep in Dark Side Land by the end of this one, there’s like 1.1% of Vader that’s started going, “Wait a minute!”

And that’s pretty cool.

Yoda!

 I’ll look at Yoda from two perspectives here.

Production Order: First Impressions

Yoda is adorbs and marvelous. I could listen to his amused giggle on repeat all day every day for a week and never get tired of it.  Even when he goes into serious Jedi mode, you can’t help but find him just the most precious green creature ever. Also, I love how literally everyone involved in the production of the film just refers to him as a frog, even though he looks nothing like a frog.

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But like he is a frog.

Mister Miyagi has some serious competition with this li’l dude. He’s just the best. And even though we don’t reeeeally get to see him go into Full Power mode, we know this dude could like squash a planet with his brain. or something.

Yoda is a delight.

Story Order: Fallen Master

My impressions of Yoda during this latest go around were super different. I felt bad for him.

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He was once respected and powerful, and now he’s holed up in this crazy swamp planet and, even though he’s probably just playacting so Luke underestimates him, you really do get the feeling that Yoda has gone a bit nuts living all alone for so many years in close proximity to a dark side nexus (or whatever that messed up tree thing is).

He was a general during the Clone Wars and he trained younglings. This dude had one of the most fulfilled existences of anyone in the galaxy. He did everything selflessly and never sought personal gain or fame or anything. He just gave everything and never expecting anything in return.

Obi-Wan even fell prey to the lure of heroics from time to time.

But Yoda didn’t. And Vader’s betrayal cost Yoda his purpose in life. He can’t train anyone and he can’t help anyone and he can’t share his knowledge with anyone.

Until Luke arrives. And despite being given this fantastic opportunity to be what he has always been, he resists because he was so broken by Anakin’s betrayal that he’s terrified of the same thing happening again. Especially since Luke knows where Yoda is, and if he turned, Yoda would have nowhere to hide lest the Emperor seeks him out and sends Vader to finish him off.

He’s just such a tragic character! I still love him dearly, but story order hits home just how much Anakin destroyed Yoda’s life. And yet Yoda doesn’t resent him. He’s sad about what happened to Anakin and regrets that he couldn’t help him.

*hugs Yoda*

A City in the Clouds

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Bespin is just the coolest. I’m a big fan. I know it’s this industrial thing and probably isn’t the greatest n terms of actually living there (since I imagine everyone who lives there are either workers or families of workers) but I just love the concept. The city itself is isolated and yet full of lots of cool stuff. I wish I could just run around and explore.

Who am I kidding, I want to live there. Literally.

Also Lando is the best.

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I love him because he’s not REALLY a bad guy. He has a selfish moment where he truly doesn’t understand that there’s no way he can make a deal with the Empire that doesn’t involve people getting hurt or killed. He doesn’t know Luke, so he feels OK with having Vader scare Han to lure this Luke guy to the city. But when he realizes Han is going to be put into carbon freeze and given to Jabba the Hutt, he realizes he’s made a horrific mistake, so he tries to maneuver things so Leia and Chewie can stay with him. But then Vader changes the deal again. So he straight up rebels, breaks Leia and Chewie out and escapes with them, and then leads the mission to rescue Han.

It’s a miracle he’s able to save Han because if he hadn’t, I don’t think Lando would have been able to function after that. He pays for his betrayal, and he’s able to redeem himself, and I just really like that. He teeters on the edge of making a life-altering error, but is able to catch himself at the last minute and become a hero of the Rebellion.

Lando is awesome. And that’s why he’s my favorite character.

That and he wears capes. Capes are cool.

Conclusion

This movie sort of breaks a whole bunch of rules in terms of what makes a blockbuster. It’s the middle act. It’s not really a complete movie. It’s just a part of an unfinished story. Like, look at Indiana Jones. Each movie has its own MaGuffin, it’s own love interest, and its own villain. They’re separate stories. But with this one, it’s got these ellipses going off in either direction. And that’s weird. Also, it has all the action scenes at the beginning, which is also weird.

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But it works.

I could ramble on a WHOLE lot more, but this is getting long, so I will sign off for now.

Star Wars is amazing, y’all, and don’t you forget it!

Next week, we’re wrapping up the Original Trilogy with RETURN OF THE JEDI!

In A Galaxy Far Far Away – A New Hope

This is the one that started it all! And here we are five movies into the series. But this is the one that started it all! Let’s do this!

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Episode Number: 4 — Released: 1977 — Production Number: 1

Look, Sir, Droids!

Apparently Lucas got this idea from Kurosawa, but I love how this is totally the droids’ movie. Obviously Kurosawa never included droids in his movies, but the whole idea of telling a story from the minor-est of minor characters is fun.

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Also, I love Threepio because he’s such a worrier, and yet he’s super adaptive. When Luke buys them, Threepio is like that cat that just makes itself at home right away without a care in the world. He’s fidgety and stressful, but after having lost his last master to the Empire, he seems super chill to have changed hands to this desert farm boy in the middle of nowhere.

We all need to be more like Threepio.

And Artoo is literally the entire reason this movie exists. He’s the best.

Only a Master of Evil

R1 does a great job of expanding Vader’s bizarre position in this movie. He’s completely terrifying and super powerful and imposing…but he’s basically a henchman in this one. Tarkin is the main villain (which is fine because I LOVE Peter Cushing).

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Vader is basically just the Emperor’s errand boy. Tarkin wields all the actual power in this situation, so Vader just does whatever Tarkin tells him. But they have an interesting relationship. Tarkin refers to Vader as “my friend” at one point, and he knows that Vader was once a Jedi. Vader doesn’t feel like Tarkin’s lackey. he does his bidding, but the two of them seem very much to be equals. Tarkin has no issues with Vader, and Vader seems to trust Tarkin. There’s not much in the way of rivalry between them like there was between Krennic and Tarkin. They’re both just sort of Totalitarian Bros and they’re OK with that, which makes Vader’s ascendancy to the top of the Imperial military food chain in the next movie that much more impressive. You get the feeling Vader cultivates this mutual respect with Tarkin solely for the influence, so that when Tarkin is bumped out of the picture (possibly by Vader) he would be in a position to take over.

Continuity

There are a few issues that previous (read: later) movies created, though.

Obi-Wan should totally recognize Artoo. He spends more time with Anakin, but still, Artoo and Obi-Wan interact quite a bit. And even if Artoo’s memories were protected by a firewall to protect the identity of Anakin, Obi-Wan SHOULD recognize him. I don’t think the prequels ever explained this…

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Also, on the subject of Obi-Wan, his conversation with Luke early on is super sugar-coated. He’s obviously doing that on purpose, but still, his comment about Owen thinking that Anakin joined Obi-Wan on “some damn fool idealistic crusade” seems weird. TPM had Owen meeting Anakin long before he met Obi-Wan. Now that’s either an error on TPM’s part, or Obi-Wan is just making stuff up. I guess you could say that, later on, once Owen got to know Obi-Wan, he didn’t fully understand what happened and assumed that Anakin’s fall was Obi-Wan’s fault.

Also, Obi-Wan’s comment about the lightsaber is odd. Because we sure know that Anakin definitely did not want Luke to have his lightsaber when he was old enough. He was too busy burning up on the side of a volcano.

I guess the real truth would have hurt Luke too much. But still, this fake narrative that Obi-Wan creates is a bit TOO far from the truth…

Also, Vader mentions that several transmissions were beamed to the Tantive IV, but R1 showed one datacard literally tossed through a doorway seconds before Vader reached it. I guess you could say that Vader is playing it cool and acting like he wasn’t just there a few days prior, but I wish R1 had kept that piece of continuity.

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Also, it’s obvious the whole “Darth as a Sith title” thing hadn’t yet been established. Again, it could be Obi-Wan glossing over the truth (because by that point, all mention of the Sith would have been wiped away by Palpatine so hearing Darth something wouldn’t make people immediately think of a Sith) but still, when he’s fighting Vader, he calls him “Darth,” which feels weird.

The Princess and the Farmboy

Marathoning the films like this really reinforces that Luke and Leia are OBVIOUSLY Anakin’s children. Leia’s got Padme’s sense of diplomacy and maturity, but when she grabs that blaster and blows up that vent to the trash compactor, that is all Anakin. We saw Padme in a firefight in TPM and she was laying down cover fire for the others, but Anakin is the type to just dive right into the middle of a fight and start shooting, which is what Leia does, and that makes me happy. Leia is the best.

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And Luke got Anakin’s impatience and his feeling that he’s always right. Luke never doubts himself. He embraces the Force and defends it to Han who thinks it’s dumb, and he’s not shy about sharing his opinions (“It’s not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They’re not much bigger than two meters.”) And he’s not super good at tact or diplomacy. He’s immature, but his heart is in the right place. That is Anakin all over the place.  But unlike Anakin, Luke is more self-assured, which is definitely Padme.

Your Friend is Quite the Mercenary

I always forget just how cynical Han Solo is in this one. He’s so much more stable in ESB and RotJ. In this one, he’s got so much swagger it throws him off balance.

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I’m eager to see how the new Han Solo film treats him. There’s this fantastic trilogy by A.C. Crispin which is totally not canon anymore, sadly, but it outlines (one version of) the particulars of how Han got on Jabba’s bad side, and it’s awesome. We get Han’s intro to the Millennium Falcon and his history with Lando and his falling out with the Empire. It’s just marvelous. And it’s technically canonically accurate until next year when the film comes out, so you totally need to read it now The first book is called The Paradise Snare. I think the second one is The Hutt Gambit, and the third one’s called Rebel Dawn. They go right up to the moment when Han meets Obi-Wan and Luke.

Also Han shot first.

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Sorry, Greedo. You’re just not cool enough to match Han in terms of sneaky quick draws.

_________ Deserved a Medal

Yes, I know Chewie deserved a medal. But what about the two other pilots who survived?? Wedge survived and he doesn’t get a medal. And the other dude (don’t know his name, but the dude in the Y-Wing that is seen flying away with Luke, Wedge, and Han right before the Death Star explodes) doesn’t get a medal. That makes me sad. I get that they didn’t want a long awards ceremony to end the movie, but like, still…Wedge deserves a medal…

Conclusion

This is a weird movie and I love it. I’m glad the studio let Lucas keep making these, because the whole unresolved Han/Leia thing would have been terrible, and Vader’s still alive and out there somewhere, and that’s terrible, and then there’s the fact that the Empire still exists and they’re all still being crushed under the thumb of a brutal dictatorship, which is also terrible.

If this whole crazy franchise had ended after it’s first movie, life would have been sad and depressing and meaningless. Good thing nerds everywhere embraced this one and the studio wasn’t as terrified of making a sequel as they initially were. So, thank you, nerds of the seventies for making life worth living by supporting this weird genre-bending rule-breaking movie that had everyone confused.

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And thank you, George Lucas for being amazing and creating this whole wacky galaxy! You rock, sir.

Next up is Empire! Whoooo!