Haiku Me Friday! The shield doors must be closed

Dread fills my inside
But I have no choice; door shuts
Was the right thing done?

When I went to Celebration/SWCA in 2015, there was a very interesting panel done on the music of the Empire Strikes Back.  They took all the music John Williams had written that was left on the cutting room floor per Lucas’ decision and played the original music where Williams intended them to go.  Some of it was silly – there was music with Luka and Yoda’s training that made you think it was a fun jaunt as opposed to serious preparation for facing a Sith Lord.

A lot of the music that was cut out of the final movie involved scenes at Hoth.  I remember vividly this scene: when the shield doors have to be shut for the night and Leia makes the hard, but right, decision to close the doors despite her two best friends being out in the freezing temperatures.  By closing the doors, she was signing a death sentence (and that’s not an easy thing to live with).

The music Williams had composed for this scene was full of trepidation, it was robust and deadly.  The music fit quite well and I think if it was in the movie, I would never have thought twice about it.

Yet George Lucas decided to leave it on the cutting floor.  This immediately turns the scene into an awkward, this-doesn’t-sit-well-with-me, uncomfortable feeling.  When there was music, the scene turned into a subconscious distraction for your feelings.  It’s almost like a glass of wine to handle the pain better.

But when the music is removed your feelings are left bare and you connect with Princess Leia in a raw, emotional way.  You feel what she feels: the indecision, the doubt, the regret, the fear – all happening as the loud shield doors pull to a close.  When they finally shut and you hear Chewie’s despairing howl, you get goosebumps.

Without the music, this scene turns authentic and harsh.  You are in the moment with Leia, Chewie, Artoo and Threepio.  Threepio’s assessment of the situation rings in your ears while they doors shut.

The odds of survival for Han and Luke are 775 to 1…and that is not very reassuring at all.

 

In case you were wondering what the scene sounds like with the original Williams music, I found it on YouTube.  Enjoy.

 

 

10 Reasons I Like Attack of the Clones

attack of the clones

I had only one New Year’s resolution when it came to this blog.  In 2015, I was going to watch AOTC and find 10 things I liked about it.  I never watched it on my own, but I did watch it a few weeks ago with the friends when I worked through the saga with prior to TFA (another post on that soon!).

To find 10 things I liked about AOTC was great up until number 8.  Then I really struggled with the last two items.  I eventually came up with them, but I had to rack my brain.

Here is my top 10 list for AOTC, therefore fulfilling my New Year’s resolution a month from the end of 2015.

10. Kamino. Out of all the new planets introduced in the Prequel Trilogy, Kamino is one of my favorites.  The weirdest thing is, I’m not a big fan of rain, but I love the visual element of it.  Plus, we’ve all had Kamino days before where you kind of feel bad for Kaminoans and the constant battering of rain…though with their skin, I’m not sure they’d last long in the sun.  Regardless, Kamino is one of the coolest planets in AOTC with the city on stilts, their transportation on the Aiwha’s, and their impressive cloning facility.  Super modern for a place that must experience a lot of power outages.

9. Puns. No Star Wars film is as rife with puns as Episode II is.  Part of me groans and hates how corny they are, but the pun-loving side of me rejoices in seeing so many in one movie.

2 Examples:

-Threepio’s head being dragged by Artoo to be put on his proper body: “Oh, this is such a drag!”

-Anakin worrying about Padmé and Obi-Wan says: “She seems to be on top of things,” as she climbs up the pole.

8. “This party’s over.” This is an example of a corny line in Star Wars this party's overthat is done so, so well.  Every time Windu utters that line I just want to woop.  Then all the Jedi start igniting their lightsabers across the Geonosian arena and it looks amazing.  It’s classic good versus evil.  The Jedi show up to save the day and you can’t help but think, “This is how it should be.”

7. The Geonosian language. I had some big debates on this when I was reading my list out loud after watching the movie but I have always loved the language of these critters.  All the weird sounds they make with clucks, clicks, whirring noises, and slightly human sounds in it is super interesting.  It’s my favorite language of species out of the entire Star Wars saga.  In case you ever want to listen to 10 hours of it, someone has granted your wish:

6. Seismic charge. The asteroid chase scene, while an homage to ESB, did not come close to matching the magnificence of the Empire chasing the Falcon.  What it did do was give us two well-equipped adversaries battling it out with lots of obstacles.  So in a sense, it was very different from the chase in ESB as this was not so much of a “chase” but a seek-and-find.  Out of this, resulted the seismic charge, a cool new addition to the Star Wars universe.  My favorite part is the silence when it’s released, followed by the explosive electric sound and the flat horizontal destruction it creates.  According to the Wookiepedia page, the reason I love this so much is actually because it defies science:

The sound from an explosion of this weapon is an interesting take on the Star Wars “ignorance” of the fact that there is no sound in a vacuum. There is no sound at the start of a blast, but there is still the impossible phenomenon of sound in space afterward. The idea during the production of Episode II was that the charge would suck in and absorb all the sound around it (such as the sounds of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jango Fett’s ships during their fight in the Geonosis asteroid belt), and then release them in a sonic explosion, resulting in the shockwave effect heard in the explosion sound.

Maybe that’s why I love Star Wars so much…it’s always defying science and reality.

5. The 2nd to last scene. When the Imperial March starts playing and you all the ships are starting to look like Imperial Star Destroyers…I get chills.  Then you see some of the senate members staring out and Palpatine is looking out at everything and you know he’s just maniacally laughing in his head.  Then you see Organa’s head bow down with one hand in a fist.  His misgiving is clear.  And those rows upon rows of clone troopers – amazing.  Begun the Clone Wars has.

AOTC 2nd to last scene

4. Imaginative planets. There’s no denying that the locations and scenery on Naboo are stunning.  Geonosis had the interesting hive of swarming bugs as a planet, and most of the scenes took place within the hive of the Geonosians, with the exception of final battle.    I felt like we really got to dive into Coruscant with the Zam Wesell chase scene that culminated in the underground nightclub.  We got to see the life of an average civilian with the Dexter Jettster diner scene.  As a whole, the film brought us to new planets that were multi-layered and showed us more depth than we had seen before.

3. Sound effects. This plays into my #6 reason, but at a larger level.  You could argue that the sound effects in every Star Wars movie are amazing, and they are, but I’m not a big sound gal.  Yet every time I watch AOTC, I notice the details of sounds and the minute way the play into the scene at a brilliant level.  Some of my favorites include when Padmé’s ship first flies into the scene (I feel like it sounds different than the other ships), the seismic charge, the sounds of Coruscant in the Zam Wesell chase scene, the Obi-wan/Jango fight, and the final battle.  In this movie, I think the sounds play as an important a role as the visual element. 

2. Padmé’s costumes. Beautiful, so beautiful. I would like to put in a caveat that I am not referring to her stupid white costume during the latter part of the movie that was strategically ripped right at her abs.  The rest of them are stunning though.  Not just the lakeside dress, but her sexy leather dress, her picnic dress, even the ones she wears on Coruscant when Anakin is pouting.  I love her nightgown and scoured the internet until I found one somewhat similar and bought it (note: it’s not very comfortable to sleep in, but I don’t care).  I even like the one on Tatooine that we see so little of that also strategically shows her abs…it has a nice feminine flow to it.  Trisha Beggar should have gotten an Oscar instead of Colleen Atwood for Chicago.  Unfortunately, she didn’t even get nominated for this film which I see as a real shame because it wasn’t just Padmé who had beautiful costumes, the others had a lot of detail in them as well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1. Across the Stars. Oh man, oh man, this was really close with #2 but I just couldn’t deny putting it at number one. This is one of the greatest tracks John Williams has ever created and it kills me that it’s not more recognized.  It’s beautiful but tragic all at once – which sums up Padmé and Anakin’s relationship.  Even though logically, if you don’t know the story of Star Wars, the ending of AOTC should be happy (a wedding! True love! Yay!)…from the music you can tell it’s doomed.  There are notes of triumph but it’s so overshadowed by the lower notes of heartbreak.  The harp at the end is just a cherry on top.  The music is poignant, it’s crucial, and it evokes so much emotion from me even when I listen to it 13 years later.  Sometimes I feel like this track makes the whole movie worth it. Bravo, John Williams, bravo.

 

What are your top moments from Attack of the Clones?

Haiku Me Friday! The Cutest Little Droid

Artoo works with speed Helping our friends in a bind The loyal, cute droid

Artoo works with speed
Helping our friends in a bind
The loyal, cute droid

Artoo has always held a special place in my heart because he is just so darn cute.

BB-8 though, man, that droid is giving Artoo a run for his money…and I haven’t even seen the movie yet!  Remember when we all called him the soccer ball droid?  The way he peeks out of that corner, SO CUTE!

Speaking of all these pronouns, do you guys think Artoo is a guy?  I’m not sure why I always thought Artoo was male, but it’s stuck since I was little.  I’m already gender placing BB-8 into the male category but I’m slightly more hesitant on that one and open to BB-8 being female.

So that kind of brings us to the thought, if astromech droids are androgynous, then why do most people agree Artoo is a male?  Is it because George has referred to Artoo as “he”?  Or is it our Western culture/society, which has always placed an emphasis on masculinity, subvert our thoughts automatically to thinking astro droids are male (unless they’re pink)?

OH, and no one got my blogger high five last week on the best haiku ever, so I’m going to explain the two reasons on why it’s the best haiku ever.

  1. Asteroids are no concern – a reference to Vader’s line when he said, “Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral.”
  2. Empire at it’s tail – Falcons are a type of bird so they have a tail. It’s a pun and it’s funny.

It’s okay that you guys are just not up to my level of genius.

you can't handle

Haiku Me Friday! Dagobah Cave Edition

The cave on Dagobah is one of the few moments in Star Wars where it bangs you over the head with its metaphors and deeper meaning.  Think about it…we don’t see much of this in the OT where the characters have to face their fears in this strange, almost out-of-body way.

He looms into sight Remember your failure, Luke The cave reveals much

He looms into sight
Remember your failure, Luke
The cave reveals much

When Luke confronts Vader in the cave, he defeats Vader, but the mask falls off revealing Luke’s face.  Essentially we are supposed to come away with the fact that if Luke goes to the dark side, he’ll will end up similar to Vader.

But there’s so much more going on here.  For instance, Yoda tells Luke not to bring his weapons, but Luke does anyway.Luke Vader dark side cave  What would have happened if he hadn’t and saw the same vision?  Or is it by bringing the weapons, Luke creates this vision and it would have been different had he not brought them?  (Lucas says he would not have had this vision if he had not brought his weapons)

Regarding my haiku, Yoda reminds Luke “remember your failure at the cave”.  Was it really a failure?  Or was it this “failure” that taught Luke a lesson before it was too late?  Did it speak more in volumes than Yoda’s teaching ever would?

We go back (or go for the first time, depending how you look at it) to the cave in TCW where Yoda also confronts his own fears.  This time he sees some tidbits of what is to happen in ROTS.  Does Yoda learn from it?  Does he face his fears and say, “This is what could happen.  If it does, then I’ll be prepared and face my fears to make sure I do all I can to be the best Jedi I can be”?

Most importantly, this sequence shows how close Luke teetered to the dark side. Did he actually use the dark side briefly? By bringing his weapons, he automatically puts himself on the offensive mode.  My third line in the haiku “The cave reveals much,” puts into light the fact that perhaps Luke does draw on the dark side.  I know that Hamill wanted Luke to fall to the dark side in ROTJ and have the movie with a darker twist.  Will we see this in TFA?  I thought the trailer had a slightly foreboding air about it when we saw Luke’s hand touching Artoo.   It was…dark to say the least.  Will the directors maybe pull on this cave sequence to go into an explanation on why Luke turns to the dark side?  (This is all speculation on my part as you guys know…I’m pretty spoiler free)

Dark side? Or light side?

Dark side? Or light side?

Read my other blog post on it here.

Read some fan speculations on the cave scene.

Watch it here.

Costuming & Characters: Part I – Princess Leia (Essay)

How do costumes define the characters in Star Wars?  This idea has been mulling around in my head for a while, since I had a brief discussion with Mei Mei in the comments of my blog on planets.  This is more of an essay than a blog post, but well worth the read if you’re interested.  I promise my posts on Luke and Han will be much shorter as there is not as much to discuss.

I think Lucas made very deliberate choices with his costumes on each of the three main characters in the original trilogy and made sure that what they were clothed in also reflected either a) their personality, b) their development as a character, or c) their environment.  The latter is the most obvious and almost always true, but I think it’s interesting how color and shape can also dictate a deeper look into who they are.

So I decided to split this up into a three part series and examine the most obvious choices of characters: Luke, Leia, and Han.  I know nothing about costume fabrics so that area will remain untouched.

On the surface, Princess Leia’s costumes remain almost always the same in terms of color.  In the entirety of A New Hope, she is wearing white.  There is only one costume change and that comes in during the last two minutes of the movie.

During the Empire Strikes Back, she steps it up a notch and has four costume changes.  She starts off with this one piece, white snowsuit with an off-white vest.  This is a slight change from ANH, as this is a pant snowsuit and not a dress, paired with almost knee-high boots (grey/white color).  She stays in that for the majority of the movie, until she gets to Bespin, where she changes into a deep red long sleeve short dress, with matching pants underneath and a tan vest/long sleeveless cloak.  She’s only in this briefly; as soon as Solo is captured, she is once again in her pant snowsuit, without the matching vest.  This time she is in white heels as opposed to boots.  At the end of the movie, she is surprisingly back in the same dress we see her in for the majority of ANH.

The Return of the Jedi sees five costume changes, but I am going to ignore her disguise as Boushh as that was her imposing as someone else.  If we ignore Boushh, she starts off in the famous metal bikini made of gold and maroon colors with grey shoes.  She transitions to her Endor outfit with light blue pants, black boots, tan shirt and grey vest, but while on Endor she dons a camouflage cape to blend in with the forest.  When with the Ewoks, she has a tan, rustic, homespun brown dress before she changes back into Endor gear, before finally ending the movie with the Ewok dress once again.

Now we have a good foundation at looking at Leia as a character and understanding how her costumes reflect her.

The first thing that always comes to mind with Leia and her costumes are:

  • She has many white costumes, and
  • Her costumes do not reveal a lot of skin, barring the slave costume which I will get into later.

Throughout mythology, white symbolizes goodness, purity, and light.  It is associated with perfection and safety.  Most of the time, it has a positive connotation.  This makes sense for Leia’s character, as Lucas wants us to see her as the Princess in need of rescuing in the first film.  This could also be why he puts her in a dress; as the Trilogy continues, Leia is more often found in pants.  He follows the standard fairytale format in ANH with a princess trapped away and a boy who rescue her (though, once she’s out of her cell, it seems like she does more the rescuing).  It’s way more nuanced than that but you understand the gist of it.  It wouldn’t make sense to dress Leia in any color other than white for the first film.

As we progress to the second and third film, there is more of a shift in her colors, though I would say that in ESB, she still is firmly in the white category.  The red dress-like costume when she is in Bespin is an abnormality, but it’s easy to see why.  cloud city red

When thinking of red in your daily life, what do you think?  Stop.  Danger.  Warning.  Love.  Seduction, at times.  Courage, at times.  We can tie her Cloud City costume back to her feelings of Lando.  Leia even clearly says, “I don’t trust Lando.”  Her costume is wrapped up in her feelings of Lando and his carnal feelings for her.  The red from her point of view symbolizes mistrust, her sense of danger over the whole situation.  For Lando, he sees the red dress and it plays to seduction and that she wants to be wooed by him.  It generates a lustful feeling for him.  Notice how quickly Leia pulls in the lighter, long cloak as soon as Lando enters and looks her up and down?  I believe Lucas paired the red dress with the white cloak to remind us that she is still a pure, good, and safe character.  It allows Leia to pull herself into safety despite her mistrust of Lando.

As soon as Lando’s betrayal is revealed and Han is captured by Boba and the Empire, Leia is once again put into the white costume.  There’s no more questioning of her character; she is back in control and a strong beacon of light.

Why does she end in the same dress she was in during most of ANH then?  I’ve tried analyzing this but have come up short on a satisfactory explanation.  We can’t really say she’s come full circle, as this is clearly the middle chapter of the story.  I like to think that she’s dressed in that outfit that was pre-Han because Han has been taken away and we don’t know if he’ll be brought back safe.  It’s still white, but it’s a symbol of Leia alone.  Again, not happy with this, so if anyone has better ideas, please share.

As we head into Return of the Jedi, I want to talk about how conservative Leia’s clothes have been thus far.  None of them have been revealing and I think that reflects on her as a very guarded, in control person.  She has a high position in helping run the Rebellion against the Empire and does not have time for a personal life.  Princess Leia is not the let-her-hair-down (figuratively and literally) kind of girl.  She’s definitely a little uptight, or as Han would like to say, “could use a good kiss.”  Her clothing reflects that strong and guarded woman.

The one time we see her in a pretty revealing outfit is…you guessed it…the slave costume in Return of the Jedi.  I wrote leia and jabbaabout this outfit in a previous post, arguing that this outfit is not quite a sexist as some would like to believe.  In a nutshell, the reasoning is that Leia was put into this costume against her will.  This forced bikini outfit represents Leia’s vulnerability at this moment in the Original Trilogy.  Up until she is at Jabba’s Palace, we have always seen Leia in control of situations.  In ANH she ran the entire show, got everyone out of the Death Star alive, and got Artoo back to the Rebellion in one piece with the stolen plans.  In ESB, she was one of the last to leave the base and the only time she sat back was when Han took them to Cloud City – and we saw how that turned out.  But never in the entire OT do we see her stripped of her ability to have an opinion, voice, or control.  The bikini shows this like no other costume can.

The muted colors of Leia’s slave outfit are a representation of Jabba’s hold on her.  There is no white in this costume, the lightest color are the shoes, which are a dark grey.  Gold is most commonly paired with wealth, riches, and affluence.  Of course that’s what Jabba is trying to portray.  He has a rich new toy (who better than a Princess of Alderaan and leader of the Rebellion?) and he wants to show it off.  Why not deck her out in the finest?

As soon as Leia is back with the Rebellion and Jabba is dead, she once more puts on conservative clothes.  The clothes are definitely on the lighter side of the spectrum, but they are not white.  I believe the camouflage cloak is clearly designed for practical, environmental purposes and will not go into that.  As the movie continues, she never wears white again, except once as a shirt underneath the Ewok dress.  We have left the monochromatic Leia behind and have begun to see a Leia with changes in her life.

The Ewok dress is a brown color.  Yes, it was probably made from earthy materials and environmentally influenced, but it could also reflect the way her life as she knew it is changing.

She’s falling for Han.  Hard.  She learns that Luke is her brother and her father is *gasp* Darth Vader.  Knowing that she leia and hanhas Sith in her now, perhaps Lucas wanted to reflect that with these colors that almost seem like water and earth running together.  Pure water (the light, white, pure Leia) and muddy dirt (knowing she has Sith/evil in her blood) mirrors her transition as a character.  She ends the Trilogy in the brown dress which makes sense with the white peeking out.  She’s no longer the character that she was in ANH.

We see through Leia’s costumes a passage of a character that speaks volumes.  I don’t think she ever loses her goodness, strength and purity.  But she does change, especially in Return of the Jedi where we see her attachment to Han and learns about her true family history.  Lucas was smart to have her costumes mirror the change internally in an external fashion (pun!).

If you made it through this whole essay, let me know what you think about Leia and her costumes.  Did you notice something that maybe I did not bring up?  What was I right about?  What was I wrong on?