Saturday, May 26, 2007

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (George Lucas, 2002)

(This post is part of the Star Wars 30th Anniversary (and boy do I regret most of those years) Blogathon)

Interview with a Jedi

(We are pleased to bring you an exclusive interview via internet of Jedi Master Yoda, one of the oldest knights of the Jedi Council, on his latest (second earliest, if counted chronologically) picture, Attack of the Clones...)

Q: Master Yoda, what do you think of the film?

A: Very pleased, I am. Much money spent to make it, though more will be spent watching it, I am sure.

Q: We're sure too. But surely that isn't the only measure of a picture's success? What do you think of the film itself?

A: Groundbreaking it is. Much advance technology used--like digital cameras for capturing images. Much used here that was never used before.

Q: How about the acting? The dialogue?

A: Acting? Really happened, everything did. There is no acting.

Q: You mean when Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin Skywalker, is seriously injured, it was for...

A: Fine now Anakin is. Genuine pain did he endure. A Jedi Knight knows not how to "act."

Q: Uh...okay. So you're saying that the dialogue wasn't made up, or written down in a script?

A: Explain this to you I will: really happened, everything did. Wrote it all down creator George Lucas did, from what he had seen and heard. For Lucas, real is the world Anakin and I live in. Fantasy this is not.

Q: Are you saying that the world of Star Wars is so real to Lucas that it's as if he's just recording what's happening as it goes along, or that Lucas is so deluded he can't tell reality from fantasy anymore?

A: Deluded Lucas is not. Must I show you my lightsabre to prove point?

Q: No thanks. But even if he was just recording what he had heard, what about accusations that the dialogue in Attack is flat and trite, and that the characterization is cardboard-cartoonish?

A: When happen something does, why change? When something someone says, why modify? Really did it happen, really did he say it. When changed then what really happened no longer it is.

Q: But don't you think editing, cutting down, streamlining is important? Don't you think improvement is important?

A: A Jedi need not improve. Do he only what he has always done well, over and over, again and again. Lived nine hundred years I did not, not to learn this valuable lesson.

Q: In other words, Lucas did not need to learn to write dialogue, he just had to learn to record it from what he heard--in his head, perhaps?

A: A Jedi need not know how to write. Such trivialities important are not. A Jedi need only listen, and learn. Or hire someone else for him to do that . Valuable was writer Jonathan Hales in that regard, and well paid he was. A Jedi must know how to compensate well, for services rendered.

Q: Need a Jedi know how to direct a film?

A: What mean you?

Q: Another major accusation leveled against Lucas with regards to "Attack of the Clones" is that he doesn't know how to direct a film to save his life. He's got some talent with visual design, and making up stories, but that's it. In fact he hasn't done a good job of directing in years.

A: And what of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope? What of American Grafitti?

Q: Some say American Grafitti hit because Lucas had a terrific cast (which he had to hire an acting coach to direct for him). That he got the look for the film thanks largely to cinematographer Haskell Wexler's help. That his one original idea was to recall that his adolescence was full of rock 'n roll--the only instance of genuine observation he ever made in his career.

As for Star Wars Episode IV it's said that he had the help of two talented people: Marcia Lucas, who edited the footage he shot into a tight and coherent whole, and John Williams, who pulled one of the few decent music scores he ever did out of his--uh, head--to save Lucas'--um, film.

A: Full of doubts you seem, young one. Wish you to see my lightsabre?

Q: No thank you. Really.

A: Stupid Lucas is not. When a look he needed for American Grafitti, asked Wexler he did. When Star Wars he had to edit, marry Mrs. Lucas he did. When talent Lucas needed, hire talent he did; enough money he had, in later years especially. Personal ability matters not to Lucas as much as final results--or better, final boxoffice returns. Personal authorship matters not as much as copyrights and franchises. In short--

Q: --a Jedi need not know how to direct a film?

A: Learn fast you do, young one.

Q: Isn't this a betrayal of everything he once stood for? Lucas used to want to change the way we make films from the usual Hollywood studio mold. Now he seems to be part of the problem, only he's more powerful than the studios ever were, and his movies are duller and less emotionally involving than the standard studio product.

A: Name you at least one better 'standard studio product.'

Q: Uh--Spider-man?

A: Inferior special effects.

Q: I'm not talking about special effects.

A: From celluloid filmmaking has Lucas moved to digital filmmaking. No small revolution is the man staging; in many ways he is the way we make films changing.

Q: But it's all technological change--from projected celluloid to projected video, from model spaceships to digital constructs, from human actors to virtual actors--and it's all moving away from the real world as we know it. Has he tried telling a story well through non-technological means, through good acting and dialogue and perhaps a little inspiration? Has he tried telling a new story, instead of f--uh, fiddling around with the same one he's been telling for the past twenty-plus years?

A: Howard the Duck. The Radioland Murders. New both stories were when come out they did.

Q: Well?

A: Unfair you are. Forgiven he should be for his mistakes.

Q: Mistakes like The Phantom Menace? Not if he's as rich and powerful as he is. Not if he has so much money that he can afford to insulate himself from the world and yet affect that world as thoroughly as he does. Philip K. Dick once wrote about a man called Dr. Bloodmoney, a cripple in a wheelchair suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, only the cripple had the ability to change the world slowly, subtly, using the power of his mind, transforming it into the same paranoid-schizophrenic world he was familiar with. Lucas is like that, only he uses cash flow instead of mental powers.

A: Now deluded you sound. Like fantastic screenplay your scenario is.

Q: And what does Lucas sound like? Does the world Lucas seems to inhabit really exist? Do you really exist? From where I'm sitting you basically consist of a bunch of phrases flipped around to resemble alien grammar, generated by some invisible keyboard. How do I know that at the other end you're not really Lucas defending himself?

A: Exist I do; of that certain am I. You it is who has doubts, you it is then who has the problems.

Lucas my creator is; from him flows my existence, flows the wisdom I teach, which nothing less and nothing more is the Star Wars philosophy. Fount of wisdom I may be, of which he the true source is. Merely convey do I his words to the awaiting world, without change or modification. Really is this how Lucas speaks; really is this how Lucas thinks.

Q: Now that explains a lot. Thank you, Master Yoda--

A: Wait; go you must not. Confusion I sense in you. Anger.

Q: Not really, I--

A: No. Confusion leads to fear, which leads to anger, which leads to tension, which leads to stomach cramps, which leads to suffering. Relieve I can your suffering.

Q: Thank you, Master Yoda, but I--

A: Type in you must a valid Visa number, by an expiration date followed--

Q: Master Yoda, I really don't think--

A: To the dark side come over, Luke.

Q: Mr. Lucas, thank you, but I have to go now. I really, really have to go. Thank you very much for the interview.



Anonymous said...

Yoda should really sit in some week on "Ebert and Roeper."

And writing backwards, fun it is. Agree, do you not?

Noel Vera said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noel Vera said...

Agree I do.

Dan E. said...

I've always liked to think, in my naive way, that Yoda's speech patterns recall Olde England and literal translations of Latin.

Yoda really needs to get his story straight. Does Lucas create his words, or does Lucas recall Yoda's words and give them to us? Which one is it, Jedi Master?

Anonymous said...

What about wisdom of archetypes, as described by Jedi Master Joseph Campbell? Wise he was, and spoke truly of George Lucas's great insights.

Noel Vera said...

Olde English Yoda speak not--like Yiddish Sesame Street more is he.

Welles' Chimes of Midnight check out you must.

Comment on Joseph Campbell's wisdom I cannot, but in hands of Lucas insights more like insects were, erratic and irritating.

Does Lucas create his words, or does Lucas recall Yoda's words and give them to us? Which one is it, Jedi Master?

A Jedi need not be consistent.