Haiku Me Friday! An Open Letter to George Lucas

It’s been 40 years
Since George Lucas took the helm
And transported us

 

Dear George,

I’ve wanted to say thank you for years.  Star Wars effects my life every day in small, and sometimes large, ways.  Without you, I would not be who I am today.  I’ve written about it a lot, but sometimes I think people tend to forget the man behind it all.  Well, not really forget, we could never forget.

It’s just that we get so wrapped up in the mythology, the worlds and stories that Star Wars has created.  We are constantly blown away by this amazing sandbox you allow us to play in.  We get so deep in the trenches that Star Wars becomes real to us.  I think we know deep down that it’s only a movie but we forget because Star Wars transverse many different levels of our lives.

Forty years ago, you probably did not yet realize what a sensation Star Wars would become.  Even after it broke box office records, did you think it was a fad?  Did you think the obsession of the public would eventually wane?  Or did you know you had struck gold?  I wish, so badly, I could interview you and dig your mind on what the summer was like 40 years ago.

Before this gets long winded, I wanted you to know that I haven’t forgotten that you are the man behind it all.  That you are the one who gave us this sandbox, filled it with sand, and then let us have fun within your creation.  Thank you for being flexible about that.

I know you tried your best when you gave Star Wars over to Disney, and for that – I’ll follow your lead and trust you as much as possible.  They’re doing an okay job (okay, a pretty good job), but they’re not you.  They could never be you.  There’s only one you – the person whom we love for giving so many of us a reason to be better people.

May the Force be with you.  Always.

xoxo,

Kiri

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Happy REAL Star Wars Day!

May 25th!  The REAL Star Wars day.  It was on this day, 40 years ago, that Star Wars was released in cinemas.  This day changed the lives of so many people around the world and our culture was never the same.  Thank you George Lucas!

Isn’t it amazing that one movie can change the course of so many lives?

In honor of this day, I’m going to ask all of you:

What is it about Star Wars?

Someone asked me this in befuddlement recently.  You all have read my posts frequently enough to know why I love Star Wars.  It changed my life, made me stronger, sparked my imagination, blah blah blah.

But this time, when the person asked me what it was about Star Wars that I loved so much, they asked me to say it in one sentence.  That was a lot harder than I thought.  You only want a few words on why I love Star Wars and what it is that compelled me to become an obsessed fan for over almost 20 years?  You don’t want a life history?  WHAT???

It was a fun challenge though.  My first response was (after A LOT of thinking),

“It pushes my imagination in ways I never thought possible.” 

Honestly, this person wasn’t really interested in why I loved it/the backstory and that response was good enough for them.  So, per usual, I’m turning here to give more responses in one sentence or less so that there is a more complete, holistic answer.

 

It forces me to become a better person.

I rethink things I have taken for granted and have a new point of view.

Rey helped me become more independent as a woman.

The soundtrack deepened my love for grand, majestic music.

The impossible is possible.

Enough hard work will help you succeed.

The scene where Luke stares into the binary sunset resonated so deeply to the point where I also have felt like I was made for something more than what this life has to offer.

When I wonder on how to deal with a situation, I can easily turn to Star Wars for some guiding advice.

Lashing out in extreme anger is not the way to deal with most situations.

There is always redemption, even for those you think are lost beyond measure.

I know from Star Wars and life that revenge is not the right course to take.

The Rebel Alliance taught me that you should always stand up for what’s right, even when you are in the minority.

The Phantom Menace taught me that young people can go on to achieve great things.

Star Wars taught me that loyalty to your friends is worth the price, even if a more tempting offer comes along to sell them out for popularity.

It made me a stronger person.

 

Tell me…in one sentence or less, what is it about Star Wars?

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.

 

 

Haiku Me Friday! Fields of beauty

She smiles at me The green, the warmth, and her face… Stop me where I am

She smiles at me
The green, the warmth, and her face…
Stop me where I am

Guys, I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I think I’m on some kind of weird AOTC + first person haiku kick.

Whatever problems I have with Attack of the Clones, I think that Naboo retreat scenes are beautiful.  The acting in the picnic scene was terrible but it had a lot of great insight into how radically different Anakin and Padmé’s views on politics were.  Anakin already favored the dictatorial stance and Padmé rooted for democracy and hearing out the people.  But they were too in love to see it.  Or perhaps, Padmé shied away from seeing what she probably knew deep down as Anakin laughed it off.  Anakin was in the flirtatious mode of trying to impress Padmé, so when he realized she strongly disagreed with his feelings, he tried to act like it was a joke.  He was smitten and who can blame him?  I would also be smitten with those surroundings.

What I also love about these scenes is not just the extra insight it gives into their opposing political viewpoints, but that George Lucas was, inanakin-padme-naboo-fireplace a way, giving us an old fashioned courting period between Anakin and Padmé.  You could argue that the whole movie was a courtship, but I believe these scenes were a chance for the characters to slow down and have fun.  The script writing and acting (mostly on Christensen’s part) was pretty bad so it wasn’t entirely believable, but if we take a step back and look at it as a whole – I appreciate the effort that Lucas put into these scenes.  It’s easy to brush them aside because on the surface it does not look like it moves the plot forward too much.  But the movement of the plot here is more subtle…it’s a wrestling between what they want and what they’ve been told cannot be.  The quote on the way to Naboo is setting the scene for tumultuous emotions between the two characters that happens as soon as they land:

Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi’s life. So you might say, that we are encouraged to love.

We have these stunning beautiful scenes that are juxtaposed against their inner turmoil that culminates in the fireplace scene at night, where defenses are most low.  There you see their true feelings come to light, when Padmé’s clothing reflects her feelings.

So while I may not like AOTC that much, there is so much to be taken from these Naboo scenes.  More than I sometimes like to give Lucas credit for.

The Most Pointless Scenes in the Star Wars Saga

The end of pregnancy does weird things to you…for instance – everyone is telling you to “get your sleep” while you can, but yet, you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, uncomfortable, and unable to fall asleep again for at least an hour.

And what do I do during that hour+? Obsess about the weirdest stuff.  Not stuff that makes sense like, “Will I be a good mom? Will I bring my child up safely and politely? Will my relationship survive the strain?”

Oh no.  I obsess about stuff like, “I wonder if I’ll remember to take the trash out when I have the baby,” or “Why is my dog making those weird sounds?  Did he throw up?” in which I promptly jump up, shine a light on him, wake my husband up, and see my dog is just in a funny sleeping position so semi-snoring.  Yes, this happened once.

Last night I woke up and obsessed about my  ideas for Star Wars blog posts and how I haven’t written any yet.  Then it evolved into how I could expand on one of my ideas and write an entire blog post about pointless scenes in the saga.

So here we are!  The fruits of last night’s pregnancy insomnia.

I define scenes as “pointless” if it could have been cut entirely and/or gotten to the point of the scene a lot faster.

 

The Phantom Menace

I think the most pointless scene in TPM would be the bongo scene.  After arriving in Otoh Gunga with Jar Jar who was exiled, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon bongo phantom menaceJedi mind trick Boss Nass into giving them a transport out of there.  He gives them a tribubble bongo and they head off to Theed through the planet core.

What ensues is basically a fish chase.  They almost get eaten multiple times, Jar Jar freaks out too many times and everyone has some pretty dumb lines (“There’s always a bigger fish”).

This entire scene could have been cut.  Instead, we could have seen them get on the bongo then appear in Theed.  Funnily – it’s the scene right after this one that Lucas decides to keep when they arrive above water and have to escape being almost pulled down a waterfall.

If you want to add a little tension and excitement to the movie, that cut scene would have done a better job than the exceedingly drawn out bongo trip.

 

Attack of the Clones

Two scenes come to mind here: 1) the droid factory scene where Padmé and Anakin are on some kind of weird obstacle course and Anakin’s lightsaber dies, and 2) the gladiator arena scene at the end.

The droid factory scene is more pointless than the gladiator scene.  I think this entire segment could have been cut out and replaced with something a padme droid factorylot more interesting.  The point of this scene was to catch Anakin and Padmé somewhere they weren’t supposed to be, therefore giving an excuse to have them in the gladiator scene with Obi-Wan.  Well, why not pick something that made the two main characters look a whole lot less foolish?  Maybe spying on Count Dooku, or, even trying to rescue Obi-Wan right away and failing.  And the whole thing with the lightsaber dying in the droid factory really rubbed me the wrong way.  It took the mystique out of lightsabers that there is a possibility it could fail like anything else mechanical.  Let’s not even go into Threepio in this scene and how must stupider it made the scene look with his horrible puns.

The gladiator scene is a harder to argue against but in this case, I think it was drawn out a little too long, similar to the bongo scene.  I understand it was a convenient setup to have Obi-Wan, Padmé, and Anakin in one place for when the Jedi and clone troopers save the day.  But it was unnecessary to have it be so dramatic when we had both the battle between the Separatists/Clones and Yoda/Count Dooku on the horizon.  I think we could have cut out the entire part with the animals and got rid of the similarities to Gladiator (the blockbuster and Oscar winner that came out around the same time as AOTC) and been a lot better for it.

 

Revenge of the Sith

The General Grievous versus Obi-Wan lightsaber fight.  Way too long and how in the world was General Grievous good enough to last as long as he did?  Again, this is one of the areas where Obi-Wan is so awesome that the fact that he had to keep chasing Grievous and have a weird showdown in order to kill him was yawn-worthy.

general grievous vs obi wan

We all knew that Grievous was not the main nemesis of the movie and there were so many other interesting aspect to get to that the corny lines (“Army or not, you must realize you are doomed.” “Oh, I don’t think so.”) and constant cat and mouse chase got to be too much.  Obi-Wan is one of the best Jedi Masters out there so just kill him already.

It would have been SO much cooler if it was like an Indiana Jones scene where the guy is doing all the tricks with the whip and Indy just takes out his gun and shoots him.  Something like that would have been way better for the Obi-Wan vs. Grievous show down.

 

A New Hope

Surprisingly – I can’t think of any pointless scenes in ANH.  This is one of the things that kept me awake longer than it should have last night because I think every scene in ANH is there for a reason, makes sense, and none of them are pointless.  This could be why I enjoy ANH more and more as I get older.

 

The Empire Strikes Back

This may be a little controversial, but I think one of the most pointless scenes in ESB is the cave scene where Luke sees his face in the mask of luke-dark-side-caveVader.  It’s not that I don’t understand what Lucas and Kershner are trying to do and say.  However, I think it could have been brought up totally differently if they wanted to make that point.  Or, do we even need it?  Was our Star Wars viewing experience enriched by that scene?  Isn’t it something that if you know Luke and see the training he is going through with Yoda, you can kind of figure it out on your own?  It’s a pointless bit of fake foreshadowing that leads the audience to believe and think something else.  Star Wars is also not known for its symbolism, even if it’s blatantly slapped in your face like this scene.  So why pull it in now?

 

Return of the Jedi

Honestly, I had a few scenes in my mind but then when I started to write about them, I realized that they didn’t quite hit “pointless” on my radar.  They did, in the end, have a point and they didn’t need to be cut either.

Therefore, I’m leaving ROTJ as another movie that was pretty well done and not too many scenes that I thought could have been left out.

 

The Force Awakens

Oh c’mon, do I even need to go here?  We all know the scene that should have been cut.

rathtar tfaThe freaking Rathtar scene.

Whhhhy is it in the movie?  As I thought about this, the only reasons I could think of was to a) alert Han that the First Order was looking for two fugitives and a BB droid, and b) to show that Han Solo still has trouble talking his way out of things, albeit in a funny way in that he thinks he can talk himself out of dire situations.

This could have definitely been done differently.  Being a smuggler again, Han probably would have known the First Order was looking for two fugitives and a BB unit…he probably would have had that come in on a priority signal or something.

As for the second part, we didn’t need it.  Han had plenty of time in the movie to show that he was still the same guy.

This scene is up there with the droid factory scene in AOTC as something that could have been completely cut.  It was childish, out-of-place in the Star Wars universe and was thrown in only for the action element.

 

I love Star Wars, as you all know.  But there are some parts of it that drag on too long or don’t seem to have a reason as to why they are in the movie.  More of the fault lied with the Prequel Trilogy than the Original Trilogy as I feel that gratuitous action scenes were thrown in to keep up with other summer blockbusters, when they really just made the movie look a little silly.

 

Let me know if you guys think of some pointless scenes in ANH and ROTJ…or if you disagree with my assessment!