Friday, April 27, 2018

A New Hope: The Opener

Welcome to A New Hope, the beginning of the Subverter Trilogy of Star Wars. This is where we introduce "the twist" of the series, which will be brought into the last part to finally resolve this grand epic. Each successive trilogy will advance the plot and themes from its previous "place" in the trilogy. So this movie advances the themes of Episode I by, in this case, subverting them. And, as Peter Lee pointed out to me, the prequel trilogy is about the two Sith taking over the galaxy with the Skywalkers caught in the middle and the original trilogy is about the two Jedi taking the galaxy back from the Sith with the Skywalkers caught in the middle.

Episode I starts with the bad guys stopping a negotiation that two Jedi, master and apprentice, are trying to start on behalf of a princess. Episode IV starts with the bad guy interrupting a negotiation between a princess and a Jedi master and his soon-to-be apprentice. Episode I makes the good guys look invincible, whereas Episode IV flips this on its head and makes the good guys the pushovers and the bad guys scary and menacing.  The plans escape with two droids and they rocket to the surface, surviving by a miracle, only to run into the same weird aliens, whereas in TPM two Jedi split up in an attempt to give the Force the greatest opportunity to act, only to run into a bunch of aliens.

Is Luke coming from the left
or are the suns coming from the right?
This brings us to Luke Skywalker, arguably THE hero of Star Wars (who I've written about before). He's a pretty typical 19 year old... who's being sheltered aggressively by his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen, who clearly know that they need to keep Luke out of the limelight for as long as possible and ignorant of his true heritage. The new comics really bring this out, and I recommend them, but it's obvious from just the movie alone that nothing has gone according to plan. Luke did not get to train with Kenobi, he's just a normal teenager who wants to go and be with his friends who are understandably eager to get off this dustball. And watching Luke gaze at the same suns that we saw at the end of Episode III we can see someone whose potential is being wasted. What's more, he's aware of it. So, to his eternal excitement, Luke finds out that he is indeed getting swept up into an epic plot... and then turns down the chance for adventure. When it comes down to it, Luke is just a farmer. He wants to get on with his life and, while he resents his oversheltering Aunt and Uncle, he clearly doesn't resent them enough to change his fate. They're his family and he's going to stick with them.

This is the definition of quick escalation.

It's here that we get the true measure of Luke Skywalker. Anakin snapped and went on a homicidal rampage when Shmi died, indulging in his rage and the power that came from it. Luke stares, forcing himself to look at what The Empire and Darth Vader (c'mon, he's gotta know who Darth Vader is) have done to his family and what the price of his inaction has been. He makes his resolution: to become a Jedi like his father. It's a really emotional and amazing scene as we compound the failure of Anakin with... WAIT, IT COMES FROM THE RIGHT?? WHY??? Just WHY?

I keep wanting to give this guy a pass, I really do. I know a lot of people like this guy but for the life of me I just don't see it. Obi-Wan, throughout the series so far has been exactly the sort of person that we do not want to be: the suck up, the person without much deep thought, the person who doesn't seem have developed anything interior. And it's right here, in this scene, where I just find myself having enough. There had better be more to this guy than repackaging canned phrases from Yoda and something that he actually holds, for himself, that no one else has.

Yes, we meet Han Solo, it's fun, move along.

Okay, I kid, but only kind of. Greedo shows up again (yeah, apparently that's him in Episode I with Anakin as a kid) for us to realize that pretty much everyone has gone downhill. HAN SHOT FIRST I DON'T CARE WHAT THE FOOTAGE TELLS ME... oh, that's right, I'm writing a blog post. Anyway. Jabba the Hutt is shown here for the first time since Episode I. Before he was just this random guy that showed up but now we get a little bit more about him, specifically in his connection to Han Solo. It's interesting, because Anakin had said he dreamed about freeing the slaves of Tatooine, and Jabba's the head of that whole slave ecosystem on Tatooine. It's an interesting little tidbit.

Knock knock.
We end this first post with the destruction of Alderaan. Plot-wise this is a really smart move, because it's here that we find out that Episode IV is not going to be a retread of Episode I. There's no Alderaan to go to because it's gone, flat. That's it. No more Alderaan, no going to bring the Jedi to help, none of that will happen this movie. While we started in a similar place we're definitely not going to wind up on a green planet with a space attack on a large spherical object, right?


Good! It's only the Sequel Trilogy that beats plot points to death, after all.

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