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Author Topic: Star Wars: The Real Mythology
'lance
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posted 10 April 2002 04:02 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Click!

quote:
Another "Star Wars" movie, "Episode Two: Attack of the Clones," is about to hit the cineplexes. As with all cosmological phenomena, certain strange and even frightening things are likely to happen as the event horizon draws near.

Hardcore fans will prepare for opening night by polishing their toy light sabers and getting their Darth Vader costumes taken out an inch or so. Fast-food joints and toy stores will fill up with merchandise bearing the faces of alien creatures. And some gullible middlebrow -- most likely Bill Moyers -- will once again recite the pseudo-religious doctrine that attributes the phenomenal success of the series to producer-director George Lucas' skill at tapping underground streams of ancient legends, using Joseph Campbell's work in comparative mythology as his dowsing rod.


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quote:
Like many of mankind's oldest legends, this notion offers multiple levels of absurdity. First, if knowledge of "man's oldest stories" underlies the popularity of "Star Wars," then why is Lucas' non-"Star Wars" résumé so dismal? Apart from conceiving the "Indiana Jones" films, which owe their box-office impact to the kinetic genius of director Steven Spielberg, Lucas has produced an unbroken series of flops. Anyone here remember "Howard the Duck"? Or "Tucker: The Man and His Dream"? "Radioland Murders," anybody? And let us not forget "Willow," which is a virtual textbook of Campbell's mix 'n' match approach to mythology.

Second, and more damningly, the real roots of "Star Wars" are obvious to anyone not blinded by snobbery or the need for self-inflation. They lie not in "The Odyssey" or the "Upanishads," but 20th century science-fiction magazines such as Astounding, Amazing Stories and Galaxy. The "true theology" of "Star Wars" was written not by Virgil or Homer, but Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, E.E. "Doc" Smith and a host of other S.F. writers.



From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 10 April 2002 04:10 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Tucker was a great flick. So was Willow. Sounds like the writer's just being a snob.
From: A thread has merit only if I post to it. So sayeth VVMB! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alix
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posted 10 April 2002 05:25 PM      Profile for Alix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Truly, it's not like George Lucas ever attempted to hide the fact that the Star Wars series is inspired by the science fiction serials that played at the movies. He talks about this in a lot of his interviews. That's why Star Wars starts in the middle of the story.

There's no reason why George Lucas couldn't have had more than one "inspiration" for Star Wars.

But, to plead ignorance, I've never read the Joseph Campbell stuff about Star Wars. Apropos of that, or apropos of nothing, what mythological themes do other people see or not see in the Star Wars movies?


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Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 10 April 2002 05:27 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I wrote a paper about this very subject. I'll have to see if I can dig it up.
From: A thread has merit only if I post to it. So sayeth VVMB! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ronb
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posted 10 April 2002 05:52 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I read an online thingy recently that witheringly dissects the aristocrat worship of Star Wars by contrasting it with the egalitarian culture of Roddenbury's universe. Nicely skewered Campbell too for being a lackey of the upper class busily reinforcing bullshit mythology designed to legitmize their tyrranny.

Now if I could only find it again.

I liked Willow too, although "great" seems a trifle generous to me.

Lucas stole roughly half of Star Wars from Kurosawa's "Hidden Fortess".


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Trinitty
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posted 10 April 2002 05:52 PM      Profile for Trinitty     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
J Campbell and Lucas are good buddies.

Willow was great! He was the exec producer on Labryinth too.

Sure, I hate his guts over Phantom Menace, but I'm not gonna deny that the trilogy and other films he's done are great modern day interpretations of myth and folklore.


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markhoffchaney
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posted 11 April 2002 03:25 AM      Profile for markhoffchaney     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm pretty sure that Lucas is also very open about the effect of Hidden Fortress on Star Wars.

While this may not contribute much in the way of arguments for or against the "string of flops," I thought American Graffitti was a fine film, even though it could possibly be argued that there is a genetic link between it and Van Wilder.


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ronb
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posted 11 April 2002 04:21 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Lucas has been very forthcoming about Hidden Fortress, to be sure. Just as Kurosawa often acknowledged his own debt to John Ford. I'm just saying that Lucas's debt to Kurosawa far outweighs his debt to Heinlein et al, medieval ideology and all.
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markhoffchaney
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posted 11 April 2002 04:45 PM      Profile for markhoffchaney     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
no argument here
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rob.leblanc
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posted 29 April 2002 02:38 PM      Profile for rob.leblanc     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm not going to be over-excited about it coming out. I did that for episode 1 and was really dissappointed. But I'd still like to see it

From: Where am I? Where are YOU? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Briguy
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posted 29 April 2002 03:16 PM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Personally, I was more excited about the 25 year anniversary re-release of the original trilogy (in theatres). Star Wars was the first movie I ever saw, and I had fuzzy memories of it's scale from when I was 6 years old.

I wasn't too disappointed by Episode I, but I went to it expecting a kid's film (especially after seeing Star Wars again).


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
from the mouths of babes
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posted 29 April 2002 10:41 PM      Profile for from the mouths of babes     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The thing that's been hard for Lucas with doing the prequels is that he set the bar so high with the original three. Other creative minds just had a heyday with it (the ewoks movies, book series, comics...) since then, the star wars universe has evolved in its creators mind but not the same way as in the publics', so naturally people are disappointed.
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bittersweet
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posted 30 April 2002 01:12 AM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
First, if knowledge of "man's oldest stories" underlies the popularity of "Star Wars," then why is Lucas' non-"Star Wars" résumé so dismal?

Salon.comwriter is sort of right, actually. Such knowledge only underlies part of the popularity of the first three Star Wars movies. Most (but not all) of Lucas' other films flopped because they were lousy stories, not because he didn't utilize his knowledge of myth. Tucker did terrible box office for the same reason Chaplin did. Their stories couldn't develop under the smothering weight of facts. Tucker did this, then he did that. Chaplin was born here, then he moved here, then he got that job. Ho-hum. No conflict, therefore no need for catharsis. Yet each man was a giant, engaged in mythical quests against...well, that was the problem, wasn't it? Lousy antagonists destroy movies, even if they've got incredible protagonists. Bad guys are as important as good guys, maybe more so. In the first three Star Wars movies, Lucas used his knowledge of myth, among other things, judiciously, creatively, inspiredly. All of the first three movies were moving toward one focal point: the revelation that the number one servant of evil, Darth Vader, is the father of the pure and good hero, Luke Skywalker. If that isn't a mythical progression, I don't know what is. "Father, why have you forsaken me?" The awe that audiences felt in that scene had nothing to do with special effects, or derring-do, or even great acting. It was primal.

In my opinion, George Lucas has to return to telling a great story, incorporating his "knowledge of myth" with many other elements. Telling a great story is even more critical now, because in the years since those first three episodes, people have been inundated with special effects movies and few have had decent stories supporting them. The bar is set higher for Lucas because people associate the first three Star Wars with a great marriage of wonderful stories and sensational special effects.


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
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posted 01 May 2002 06:11 AM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The real problem with Phantom is plain bad storytelling and bad direction. It's telling that the best of the original trilogy, Empire, is also the film that Lucas had the most conflict with the director in.

So many things about the story in Phantom were stupid. This was not as damaging as the complete lack of suspense through the whole film. The good guys seem to casually flitter through a wide variety of seemingly huge obstacles as if they never doubt their success. Basically it was dull. The old movies never fail to excite me despite the fact that I know how they end.

But what still interests me about the whole Star Wars mythology is the concept of the Force which is heavily cribbed from the Chinese concept of Chi. This is consistent with the fact that the story is based largely on oriental myths. The notion of the Jedis, who harmonise with the living energy of the universe to acheive great powers is directly from the Daoist tradition. I happen to have a strong sympathy with this view of reality which is no doubt why I still am affected by the mythology of the movie.

I think that Lucas has been an unwitting element of the powerful convergence of western and eastern thought that is happening in our time. Through the Star Wars movies, the basic elements of Chinese wisdom have imprinted themselves on a whole generation of westerners, and mostly with no clue of what they are absorbing.


From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged

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