This week I’ve been making my way through the Star Wars films, old and new, prequels and sequels seeing as Adam got given them all for Christmas it seems the right thing to do.
We were watching a New Hope (that’s episode 4 to you) last night and it got me thinking about what a mind-blowing film that must have been when it came out. The special effects, the size of the spacecraft, the angles and filming techniques, the Jim Henderson party of puppets in every scene. Amazing. Even though I’m not a big Star Wars fan, (sorry geeks) mainly because it’s far too complicated for a kid’s film, watching it again reminded me how impressive the design of the film was. Who on earth managed to make a droid so cute and appealing (R2D2 has more personality than Mark Hamil in my opinion)? It’s no easy task making a robot who doesn’t speak have personality.
Seen Wall-E? Yes, very cute. Pixar did well to create a fantastic animation where the main characters only recite each other’s names. Don’t get me wrong I loved Wall-E, and it is an impressive film, but I realised last night that’s he’s not the original. There is a scene where R2D2 and C3PO have been captured by the sand people (I think) and while they rummage about in the hull of this travelling scrap yard to find each other they stumble across …Wall-E. Or at least what I can only assume was the design inspiration for him. There he is, a minor design from Star Wars scrap heap of droids living again in Pixar’s world of eco heroism.
It just showed to me how much foresight LucasFilm had when they produced the Star Wars films. So many elements of the sets, characters and aliens have a timeless quality. It’s not overly “futuristic”, in fact it has a reassuring 70’s edge to the minimalism of the Death Star and the Tatooein sand huts, but rather stuck in an ageless space. You can’t snigger at it, thinking “what a crazy idea, they thought we’d be living on the moon”, maybe because it’s not set on earth so we are happy to detach ourselves, our own expectations of the ability (superiority) of our race and rather sit there and believe the narrative. After all, why wouldn’t there be a death star hovering over a distant planet, because it’s nothing to do with us humans we don’t question it. If the Death Star was over Earth, you can’t imagine there would be a terrible Independence Day ending with the American President shooting the crap out it. Thank god then that George Lucas chose a galaxy far far away.