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May 21, 2010 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Impressive. Most impressive. Thirty years ago today, one of the most popular films of all time was released to theatres. Often described as "dark" and "moving," it has had its own cultural impact from commonly-misquoted quotes to introducing an entire generation of moviegoers to the concept of a plot twist That film? The Shining.

Just kidding.

The Empire Strikes Back (now retconned as Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back), as well as introducing a dash of color to the saga and being well-known as the best episode of same-said saga. Both Roger Ebert and Chuck Klosterman acknowledge its quality. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 97% "Certified Fresh" rating, it's so well-regarded by critics. The best theory for why it stands out from the rest of the Star Wars saga? George Lucas anded over the reins of screenwriting (first to Leigh Brackett and subsequently to Lawrence Kasdan) and directing (to Irvin Kirshner, of The Eyes of Laura Mars fame and one of Lucas' filmmaking mentors), allowing competent professionals to handle the stuff Lucas wasn't so hot at (words, storytelling).

May the Force be with you.
posted by grubi (153 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
On top of all that, composer John Williams gave us a now-highly-recognizable tune that has come to signify evil or the bad guys (various episodes of "The Simpsons" when Mr Burns arrives, or at Yankee Stadium when announcing the lineup for the opposing team, for example): The Imperial March.
posted by grubi at 6:43 AM on May 21, 2010


I know.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:49 AM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


So thirty years ago my sister and I were waiting in line for four hours to get tickets to see it. Back then big movies only opened in a couple of theaters for the first few weeks of a release so we have to take the train in from Jersey to go to a big theater in Manhattan to be able to see it.
posted by octothorpe at 6:50 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I came in here totally prepare to discuss The Shining, and now look.

Empire is the best of the three movies. (Yes, three.) That said, it is not a film that can stand on its own. You can't watch Empire Strikes Back without watching the other films and still think it is a great movie, because without those other films, it makes no sense. This is not the case for other great sequels like Aliens or T2, which contain within them enough backstory and end with enough of a resolution to serve as standalone films in their own right. Empire, while great is really more of an Act II setting up for a still-to-come Act II than a typical sequel.

Also, it needed more AT-ATs.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:58 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I came in here totally prepare to discuss The Shining, and now look.

Gotcha!

it is not a film that can stand on its own.

Sure.

Also, it needed more AT-ATs.

They're like the bacon of Star Wars. Too much is never enough.
posted by grubi at 7:00 AM on May 21, 2010


At the time, The New York Times didn't seem to like it at all.
posted by octothorpe at 7:03 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


That part where Jack Nicholson jumps out from behind the pillar and sinks that axe into Darth Vader's chest was like, SO shocking.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:03 AM on May 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Great line in that Canby review at the New York Times:

"The Empire Strikes Back" is about as personal as a Christmas card from a bank."
posted by jettloe at 7:08 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Empire Strikes Back is one of the first movies I distinctly remember seeing in the theatre (I was six). I remember it distinctly because of the scene where Han, Leia and the rest reach the cloud city, think they're safe and are led by by Lando to a room where Vader is waiting for them. When Han sees Vader he shoots at him, but Vader is all, like, "Puny non-Jedi, your crappy gun isn't going to work on me," and then he's all pimpin'-smooth, like, "We would be honored if you would join us." Everyone on the playground thought Han Solo was the shit, but to Vader he doesn't even register as a threat*. That was the moment where I decided I liked villains better than heroes.

Which made the ending of Return of the Jedi all the more disappointing ("I love you, Luke! Now I'm off to heaven to hang out with Yoda and Obi-Wan after my one good deed canceled out a lifetime of murder!").

* Yeah, I know, he was the one who knocked Vader out of commission in Star Wars, but I'm not entirely sure I saw it before Empire
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:09 AM on May 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was six

Me, too. Although I distinctly remember seeing Star Wars in the theatre when I was 3.

he's all pimpin'-smooth, like, "We would be honored if you would join us."

THAT is one of the best descriptions of that scene I've ever read.

Which made the ending of Return of the Jedi all the more disappointing

Indeed. But you gotta admit, Luke couldn't be seduced by the Emperor. Which is pretty pimp in and of itself.
posted by grubi at 7:12 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those are my favorite Christmas cards. I put them on my fridge, next to my dental exam reminders and 1st grade choir photos of Boba Fett.
posted by Auden at 7:14 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The very first of the extravaganza blockbuster films of the eighties. Set the stage for much to follow. By that standard alone, a film to be noted and remembered.

"He is 36 years old. Because of 'American Graffiti' and 'Star Wars' -- which he directed and for which he was nominated for four Academy Awards -- he does not, he says, 'have to work for a living anymore.' He finds that freedom 'frightening.' " -- New York Times, 18 May 1980

At the time, The New York Times didn't seem to like it at all.

Not quite. Janet Maslin, whose review appeared right after the movie was released, liked it, though she thought it was too violent and not as "lighthearted" as the movie that came to be known as Episode IV.

Vincent Canby didn't like Episode V. But we're talking about Vincent Canby here. Consider the source.
posted by blucevalo at 7:14 AM on May 21, 2010


I came in here totally prepare to discuss The Shining, and now look.

Sorry to be so irky, but I was irked. First I thought you were playing a game of hide the title, but then I spotted "The Shining" at the end and I patted you on the back, because I really hate posts that play coy. Then and only then did I mouse over the links. So what the fuck? Three Star Wars Links and nothing on the Shining? I had to open a new window to see where The Shining came in only to receive a "Gotcha!"

Thanks, but no thanks. I don't think the front page is a place to play games with our expectations.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:14 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Luke was always my least favourite of the major characters, but he had some badass moments in Return, to be sure.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:14 AM on May 21, 2010


That was the moment where I decided I liked villains better than heroes.

Yes, exactly. There was something about seeing cool heroes getting their asses collectively kicked that just clicked you know?

The direction of Luke's light saber with Darth Vader really sticks out as it was fierce and exhausting. The golden boy hero is reduced to literally hanging by a thread because of his own headstrong foolishness.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:16 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


"He is 36 years old. Because of 'American Graffiti' and 'Star Wars' -- which he directed and for which he was nominated for four Academy Awards -- he does not, he says, 'have to work for a living anymore.' He finds that freedom 'frightening.' "

Crap. *I*'m 36 now. What the hell have I done? I made a post about some other 36-year-old's magnum opus.

I gotta lie down.
posted by grubi at 7:16 AM on May 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


Thirty years old, huh? And I still haven't seen it.
posted by orange swan at 7:17 AM on May 21, 2010


God wouldn't be nice if we trade the three prequels for a competently written version of what happens when they all sit down in Cloud City for dinner? I mean, his estranged princess of a daughter just showed up with a gearhead boyfriend who clearly doesn't like him. And the whole thing's an ambush. What are they going to talk about? Awkward!
posted by condour75 at 7:20 AM on May 21, 2010 [35 favorites]


> The direction of Luke's light saber with Darth Vader really sticks out as it was fierce and exhausting.

That was one of the other awesome Darth Vader moments; he toys with Luke for a while, lets him think he might have a chance, then just starts hurling big chunks of machinery at him with his mind.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:20 AM on May 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


My dinner with Anakin.
posted by Auden at 7:21 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but that's cheating because Luke was better than he anticipated.

Hence the "Impressive." line.
posted by grubi at 7:22 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's true...haven't seen it in a while.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:24 AM on May 21, 2010


It's all part of a larger argument I've fashioned in which I conclude that Luke was the greatest of all Jedi.
posted by grubi at 7:30 AM on May 21, 2010


Original trailer.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 AM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thirty years old, huh? And I still haven't seen it.

The first one is fun. I wouldn't worry too much about the others.
posted by alasdair at 7:36 AM on May 21, 2010


I'm sorry, that's awfully grumpy, isn't it? Apologies. I like all the "original three", and loved them as a kid, but I think that STAR WARS is far and away the best "fairy story" now I've got an adult head on my shoulders. I really would go and see it, even as an adult.
posted by alasdair at 7:38 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Having heard ahead of time that it had a cliffhanger ending, I spent the last 15 minutes of the movie panicked that it might end at any second.

Han drawing his blaster the second he sees Vader in the dining room was the epitome of heroism for me for many years after that.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:39 AM on May 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


For some reason, Empire Strikes Back is the one whose events I can never remember. I know the original movie well, but I seem to attribute all the events of Return of the Jedi to this one. I have had the following conversation more than once, with my girlfriend the Star Wars fan:

Me: Is that the one where they blow up the Death Star again?
Girlfriend: No, that's the third one.
Me: Is it the one with the speeder-things in the forest?
Girlfriend: No, that's the third one.
Me: ...the Ewoks?
Girlfriend: Still the third one.
Me: Is it the one with Jabba and slavegirl Leia?
Girlfriend: Third one.
Me: Is it the one with Lando and Cloud City and Yoda trains Luke and Han gets frozen and Luke gets his hand cut off?
Girlfriend: Yes! Yes! That one!
Me, thoughtfully: But does it have a Sarlacc?
Girlfriend: *weeps*

(This is probably why Star Trek and Star Wars fans are encouraged not to date each other.)
posted by sineala at 7:42 AM on May 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


he toys with Luke for a while, lets him think he might have a chance, then just starts hurling big chunks of machinery at him with his mind.

Yeah, but that's cheating because Luke was better than he anticipated.

No, it wasn't cheating. Looking at the fight from Vader's perspective:

-his goal is to effect the capture of Luke. If he is unable to, he will kill Luke.

Vader's first initial effort is to get Luke frozen in carbonite, as the most efficient means of capturing him. This fails, leading Vader to re-evaluate Luke (Impressive!)...but Vader still isn't breaking a sweat in fending him off, nor does he go for the immediate kill.

Vader strings out the fight, battering Luke and exhausting him, in the hopes of capturing him or turning him. The bit were he starts throwing things at Luke with his mind is not cheating...it is Vader demonstrating to an exhausted Luke that his power and skill are nothing compared to the Dark Side - that it is useless to resist, and that submission is his best chance for survival.

For me, as a 9 year old kid, that sequence was awesome - all we knew about Jedi fights to that point was that they used lightsabers. Then Vader takes it to a whole new level - one that the young members of the audience and Luke had never thought of before.
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:43 AM on May 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Han drawing his blaster the second he sees Vader in the dining room was the epitome of heroism for me for many years after that.

You know, I hadn't really ever thought of it within the context of the story, because watching the movie it's just like 'Good guys versus bad guys!' but here's Han Solo, pirate with a price on his head, and he suddenly sees the head of the military for the entire galaxy-- not a bad guy, a very powerful government personality, and without hesitating he's like 'Oh fuck, gonna kill him.'
posted by shakespeherian at 7:46 AM on May 21, 2010 [30 favorites]


Wow, spot on, NUBS. That scene gave me chills, for the reasons you describe. I was like, holy shit, this force business is frickin serious!
posted by Mister_A at 7:47 AM on May 21, 2010


My own personal pet theory -- and I'm talking out of my ass here -- is that the great, sparkly banter in the beginning of the movie is all Leigh Brackett. She had a hand in The Big Sleep and the seventies, Altman version of The Long Goodbye, which is sort of John the Baptist to the The Big Lebowski. Plus, she had a long history with space opera, which means she could throw a nerfherder into a conversation and make it stick. And then the ponderous, me-generation Yoda-and-daddy-issues bullshit is Lawrence Kasdan / Lucas.

I know, you want proof, not leads. Lucas claims, I think, to have thrown out her draft. But that's my theory and I'm stickin' to it.
posted by condour75 at 7:47 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


the stuff Lucas wasn't so hot at (words, storytelling).
Ain't that the truth.
posted by codacorolla at 7:49 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


never used baby shoes, I want to disagree with you (and my gut says I do), but that's a damn fine argument in our favor. you've given me something to consider.
posted by grubi at 7:50 AM on May 21, 2010


God damn it. I just watched The Shining again and really want to discuss it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:51 AM on May 21, 2010


God wouldn't be nice if we trade the three prequels for a competently written version of what happens when they all sit down in Cloud City for dinner? I mean, his estranged princess of a daughter just showed up with a gearhead boyfriend who clearly doesn't like him. And the whole thing's an ambush. What are they going to talk about? Awkward!

Indeed.

(God, I love Robot Chicken so so much.)
posted by kmz at 7:52 AM on May 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


The "i love you","i know" exchange was actually an on-the-set addition by Harrison Ford* who frankly was also a major influence on the non-suck of episode V.

*This is noted in the wikipedia article if you search for "consequently", second occurence.
posted by ba3r at 7:54 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


The "i love you","i know" exchange was actually an on-the-set addition by Harrison Ford

I know. (hee)
posted by grubi at 7:55 AM on May 21, 2010


God damn it. I just watched The Shining again and really want to discuss it.

It all comes down to the bear costume.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:57 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


grubi, I won't disagree with you that Luke becomes the greatest of all Jedi - his ability to use his passion and strong emotions in alliance with the Force in ROTJ I think show that. The Jedi before that (as we know from the prequels *spit*) tried to suppress emotion, fearing it would lead to the Dark Side - Luke found a new way.

His confrontation with Vader in Empire is crucial to that process though. Vader not only batters him physically but psychologically. Luke truly learns who he is, and what he will have to become in order to confront Vader and win.
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:57 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


God damn it. I just watched The Shining again and really want to discuss it.

Sorry about that. If you make a FPP about it, I'd love to discuss it. Kubrick's one of my favorites.
posted by grubi at 7:58 AM on May 21, 2010


Aw, man. I was all ready to come in here and post this remake of the Shining elevator scene.
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 7:59 AM on May 21, 2010


Luke truly learns who he is, and what he will have to become in order to confront Vader and win.

In order to become the greatest! You've actually bolstered my argument even more. We should collaborate on a paper outlining this thesis.
posted by grubi at 8:00 AM on May 21, 2010


In order to become the greatest! You've actually bolstered my argument even more. We should collaborate on a paper outlining this thesis.

I'm up for it! Any excuse to watch Empire repeatedly :)
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:01 AM on May 21, 2010


I'm also prepared to work on an argument that Darth Maul was overrated.
posted by grubi at 8:01 AM on May 21, 2010


all we knew about Jedi fights to that point was that they used lightsabers.

Nah, we saw Yoda do something impressive with an X-wing in Empire, which nicely hints at the power potential of Jedi/Sith Masters.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:07 AM on May 21, 2010


Oh, we wanted to discuss KUBRICK's Shining? nm
posted by shakespeherian at 8:07 AM on May 21, 2010


For old times sake: The light saber battle from ESB.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:09 AM on May 21, 2010


we saw Yoda do something impressive with an X-wing in Empire, which nicely hints at the power potential of Jedi/Sith Masters.

But we had yet to see it demonstrated in a fight.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:09 AM on May 21, 2010


One of the great treats of watching the first two and a half movies (yeah, I refuse to count the last half of Return of the Jedi) is seeing Vader all over again. "I find your lack of faith disturbing" is funnier in new ways to me. It's not just a way to say the word disturbing while lightly crushing someone's throat, or even a casual reminder that the "sorcerous ways" are not so easily dismissed, but a genuine impatience with suits who have grown too overfond of their uniforms to realize that they are replaceable martinets. The payoff to this doesn't come until The Empire Strikes Back, but damn ...

Vader says little, but always manages to cut through any niceties in short order, but does so in an urbane manner: "Perhaps you think you're being treated unfairly." "I am altering the deal." And yet he's also fair, "The Empire will compensate you if he dies." Darth Vader: he gets things done.

He's like the Mussolini of the Empire.
posted by adipocere at 8:12 AM on May 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


> More AT-ATs.
posted by JoanArkham at 8:16 AM on May 21, 2010


I'm also prepared to work on an argument that Darth Maul was overrated.

Exhibit 1: A double-ended lightsaber is the dumbest weapon EVER. Let's make a bo-like weapon that'll slice through your hands if you use it like a bo! There's a reason there's no double-ended swords in real life. Cause it's dumb.
posted by kmz at 8:22 AM on May 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


But we had yet to see it demonstrated in a fight.

*mumbles something geeky*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:24 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm also prepared to work on an argument that Darth Maul was overrated.

Return of the Jedi Luke was pretty much a walking destruction. He could've whacked Darth Maul with nothing but a raised eyebrow, I think.
posted by Mister_A at 8:24 AM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I never figured out if Darth Maul was supposed to be from a race of aliens with black and red splotchy faces or if he was supposed to be wearing Mardi Gras facepaint.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:26 AM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thanks, but no thanks. I don't think the front page is a place to play games with our expectations.

I didn't click on this at first. I'm not terribly interested in The Shining, so I skipped over it. But I'm really glad I finally did. Don't have a problem with the post's misdirect.

A friend of a friend once did something that's stuck with me. Announced in his 50th blog entry (on April 1st) that he was giving it up. In the process he said he "shot myself in the dick." Bunch of people wrote him to say, "Sorry to see you go. Guess I'll take the link to your blog off my Web site."

So... when composing a post, just be careful you don't shoot yourself in the dick. :D
posted by zarq at 8:28 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I refuse to count the last half of Return of the Jedi

I'm only partially with you on this. Remove the Ewoks and what remains is the scene I refer to as "The Emperor's Seduction of Luke Skywalker" which is fantastic psychological and philosophical stuff.
posted by grubi at 8:28 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


So... when composing a post, just be careful you don't shoot yourself in the dick. :D

Noted. My first FPP, stumbling blocks expected.
posted by grubi at 8:29 AM on May 21, 2010


And you know, one of the redeeming characteristics of Jedi was Luke's cool confidence - he was very much like Poppa Vader in this way—dealing with Jabba and his cohorts, he was all like, "hey, you should give up now." And he backed it up. It was very appropriate to the character's personal arc that he was now a deadly serious person. I mean, sure, it's the whole point of the story but I'm glad they didn't botch it and make him too gleeful or cocky or catch-phrasey or anything like that.
posted by Mister_A at 8:30 AM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's part of the point of an exotic and impractical weapon. If you have one and you are known to have survived many battles, that means you are an incredible badass. "BACK THE FUCK BUS UP: is that a double-ended lightsaber? You bet your sweet bippy it is! Look at this impractical fucking weapon! Goddamn, you know you'd slice your hands off on this son-of-a-bitch. Shit, look at it: it's got two ends! You could kill two people at once with it, if you didn't suck!"

Darth Maul, who reeks of Sith, showing up out of nowhere with a double-ended lightsaber, is a bit like:
WESTLEY: Oh, there's something I ought to tell you.
INIGO MONTOYA: Tell me.
WESTLEY: I'm not left-handed either.
It should strike fear into their pukemilk little Jedi hearts.
posted by adipocere at 8:30 AM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


So thirty years ago tomorrow evening, my dad packed me and my brother in the car and drove us from the west Baltimore suburbs up to Timonium on the north side of town to see the movie in a 70mm print, which we were all assured would be akin to twenty orgasms on acid riding a killer whale through the White House. (Well, they didn't put it that way at the time. I was 9. But that was the hype level.) No paltry 35mm prints for us, no sir. So we all get in the Dodge Dart and spend an hour sitting in traffic on 695, then another hour standing in line in a Baltimore summer before finally getting into the great shrine of moviegoing for the greatest experience of a lifetime.

And a kid sitting behind me says, "Yeah, I saw it last night. Luke gets his hand cut off and Vader's his father."

I still want to find that guy and have the killer whale eat him.
posted by el_lupino at 8:33 AM on May 21, 2010 [20 favorites]


That's part of the point of an exotic and impractical weapon. If you have one and you are known to have survived many battles, that means you are an incredible badass.

This is true. I know a guy who is an incredible ping pong player, and his favorite paddle is one of those solid pressed-wood dealies you find in church basements with the rubber peeling off one side. He calls it the Norwegian Oar. He casually beats very good players who have super-nice multiple-hundred-dollar paddles, and it is decidedly Badd Ass.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:33 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


> "The Emperor's Seduction of Luke Skywalker" which is fantastic psychological and philosophical stuff.

Or particularly unpalatable slash fiction.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:35 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or particularly unpalatable slash fiction.

Perhaps I should rename it "The Last Temptation of Christ Skywalker."
posted by grubi at 8:36 AM on May 21, 2010


If you have one and you are known to have survived many battles, that means you are an incredible badass.

And yet, this "incredible badass" got sliced in two by a fucking padawan.
posted by grubi at 8:37 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was 6 when it came out also, and it was a Very Big Deal to me. I didn't get to see it until week or two late, and I remember talking on the phone beforehand with my buddy Misha who told me about the good part. Not any of the plot twist stuff - the part where Han cuts open the tauntaun and fucking macoroni squirts out. Yeah!!

What's so great about Empire is how HOPELESS it all is - the heroes are beaten, dismembered, betrayed, humbled, amputated, tortured, incested (heh?), and frozen in carbonite. You already know that Darth is bad and powerful from the first one, but when you last saw him he was getting slapped around by Han. Now though, Han empties a blaster at him at point blank and Darth doesn't even flinch. He is a bad, BAD dude.

There was a thingy I saw about that scene that I really dug - it put clearly everything everyone in my generation saw in Han. I saw it here, but it's authorship seems uncertain:
So Han’s walking down the halls of Bespin with his old friend Lando. Leia’s there, and lookin’ good. Han thinks he’s off to dinner – maybe some wine, a little flirting, and then back to the ol’ guest quarters with Her Hotness.

But the door opens, and there’s Darth Vader.

Han doesn’t look incredulously at Lando; he doesn’t duck or run away.

What does Han do?

He starts shooting at the motherfucker.

He starts shooting.

Be like Han.

posted by dirtdirt at 8:38 AM on May 21, 2010 [15 favorites]


I never figured out if Darth Maul was supposed to be from a race of aliens with black and red splotchy faces or if he was supposed to be wearing Mardi Gras facepaint.

SHOW US YR SITH!
posted by grubi at 8:38 AM on May 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Exhibit 1: A double-ended lightsaber is the dumbest weapon EVER. Let's make a bo-like weapon that'll slice through your hands if you use it like a bo! There's a reason there's no double-ended swords in real life. Cause it's dumb.

Oh, definitely. I know I watch Star Wars for its realistic, truthful depictions of aliens, space battles, evil empires, swords made out of light, droids and folks using the Force, myself. :D



Oh, wait.... that explains it. My kids are Sith, and they're trying to kill me by never letting me sleep through the night ever again. It all makes sense now.
posted by zarq at 8:40 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or particularly unpalatable slash fiction.

The Sith Academy.
posted by zarq at 8:43 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The Emperor's Seduction of Luke Skywalker" which is fantastic psychological and philosophical stuff.

Agreed.

The moment I truly love in Jedi though is one between Luke and Vader. Luke has just been brought to him, and he and Vader are alone - Luke in handcuffs. As they talk, Luke turns his back to Vader...at which point Vader ignites Luke's lightsaber.

Luke to this point has been calm, confident, and pretty much kickass throughout the film...but there is this great moment when that lightsaber turns on when he looks scared by the realization that he has been left defenseless, restrained, and alone with a man known for the wholesale slaughter of Jedi.

It was a great little touch.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:44 AM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Noted. My first FPP, stumbling blocks expected.

No worries. Congrats! :)
posted by zarq at 8:45 AM on May 21, 2010


In a two against one battle. Obi-Wan is no slouch himself and, what, ends up being the last torch for the Jedi? Admittedly, I'm biased; I like watching Ray Parks move. He was about the only part of that film I could stand. He made the fight scenes in Sleepy Hollow.

I thought it was rather weird that Darth Maul got taken out so easily. He was set up to be a memorable badass for at least a couple of films. That, I think, combined with Jar-Jar, made me realize "Oh, these are not going to go well."
posted by adipocere at 8:46 AM on May 21, 2010


the seventies, Altman version of The Long Goodbye, which is sort of John the Baptist to the The Big Lebowski.

Well put!
posted by brundlefly at 8:47 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


May the Force be with you.

And also with you.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 8:47 AM on May 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


OK, I just re-read my last comment and realized it sounds like slash fiction. I should probably go do some work now.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:48 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And for Luke -- twice -- chooses self-sacrifice rather than turn to the Dark Side... that's some fuckin' balls. Anakin never had that kid of courage, that kind of conviction.

Luke's the man.
posted by grubi at 8:48 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


And also with you.

Heh. Having grown up in a handful of churches, *that* is always my kneejerk response to that phrase.
posted by grubi at 8:49 AM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


the part where Han cuts open the tauntaun and fucking macoroni squirts out. Yeah!!

If memory of one of the "making of..." specials serves me correctly, those were inflated or otherwise filled condoms you saw playing the part of the tauntaun's innards.
posted by hippybear at 8:52 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was going to post about how Empire introduced me to the concept of moral ambiguity and how deeply it affected my 9-year-old psyche, but I think the Chuck Klosterman piece linked in the FPP did it better, so I'm going to just say that, in my heart of hearts, it's my favorite movie.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:55 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


If memory of one of the "making of..." specials serves me correctly, those were inflated or otherwise filled condoms you saw playing the part of the tauntaun's innards.

*Filled* condoms?

That scene must have taken them forever to prepa.... oh.
posted by zarq at 8:59 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


those were inflated or otherwise filled condoms you saw playing the part of the tauntaun's innards.

I think that was on IMDb under the "Uncredited" section of the cast list.
posted by grubi at 9:01 AM on May 21, 2010


And yet, this "incredible badass" got sliced in two by a fucking padawan.

That's exhibit 6.02 x 1023 in why that film sucked. I mean sure, it happens to be Obi-Wan Kenobi, but at least he could have killed him a little more dramatically, with a little more build-up... it's just kind of, "Oh that's right I can just leap outta this hole, ol' DM will never see that coming from a Jedi!" And then he leaps out and slashes him.

tl;dr version: Needs more "You kill my teacher! Why? Why? Why?"
posted by Mister_A at 9:02 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mister_A, there's not enough time in the average day to go into what sucked about the prequels. Even though I'l still watch 'em from time to time, my tolerance only goes so far.
posted by grubi at 9:08 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's exhibit 6.02 x 1023 in why that film sucked.

How about just the newly introduced names. "Darth Maul." Ooh, maul, like what an angry bear does to people. He must be baaaad. Maybe Princess Star Bright and her friend Happy Fluffy will come rescue everyone.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:14 AM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


So much to respond to:

It was all set up for a kickass end to episode one. Leaping up from the (Star Wars copywrited) bottomless pit, Obi Wan force grabs both his and Qui-gon's light sabers, beginning a badass battle with Darth Maul, two light sabers against Maul's double bladed saber. The fight continues until the end of the film, since, really, we don't need anything else.

As for Empire, I saw it with my cousin, my mother, and my aunt in Chicago. We were so late to it that we missed the entirety of Hoth. Years later I found out that we hid in the bathroom to see the movie again from the beginning. For at least 6 or 7 years I believed there were two versions, one with Hoth, and one without. Then again, I clearly remember seeing the scene of Biggs and Luke talking on Tatooine, where Biggs tells Luke he's joining the rebellion. Memory isn't always the most reliable thing.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:16 AM on May 21, 2010


Yeah, and is "Darth" a title, I guess? Like a Hutaree militia title? What comes after Darth? Do you have to kill someone in a hover-by to become a Darth? OR ARE YOU SERIOUSLY LIKE JUST OUT OF NAMES OR SOME SHIT???
posted by Mister_A at 9:18 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


there's not enough time in the average day to go into what sucked about the prequels.

That is the greatest achievement of these films - they managed to pack like 12 hours of suck into 120 minutes of screen time. FUCKING HYPERCUBE FILMS! HOW DO THEY WORK?
posted by Mister_A at 9:20 AM on May 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


OK, I'll say it: I liked Return of the Jedi. Weakest of the THREE, but still great.

Here's the one problem I have with the ewoks: it would have been way more effective if Lucas had shown wave after wave of ewoks dying because of the vastly superior Imperial weapons, but it didn't matter because they were willing to do ANYTHING to get the Imperials off the planet.

But we didn't get that narrative of heroism and fatalistic bravery.

Instead, we got "Oh those crazy ewoks can throw stones!" I mean, isn't that why the Stormtroopers have armor?

The fact that the ewoks were cute and fuzzy and did cutesy things could have been made into a shocking, poignant moment. Instead it came off kinda stupid.
posted by imneuromancer at 9:24 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Look at this list of god-awful Extended Universe Darths:

Darth Revan
Darth Malak
Darth Phobos (sith lord of FEAR)
Darth Nihilus (sith lord of NOTHING)
Darth Sion
Darth Traya (as in BE-traya?)
Darth Ruin (srsly?)
Darth Bane
Darth Zannah
Darth Cognus
Darth Millennial
Darth Ramage (rhymes with damage or rampage?)
Darth Vectivus
Darth Plagueis (dear god)
Darth Sidious
Darth Maul
Darth Tyranus
Darth Krayt
Darth Azard
Darth Kruhl
Darth Maladi (malady? come THE FUCK ON)
Darth Maleval
Darth Nihl
Darth Rauder
Darth Reave
Darth Ruyn (because RUin was taken)
Darth Stryfe
Darth Talon
Darth Vurik
Darth Wyyrlok I (= warlock?)
Darth Wyyrlok II (like an AOL username)
Darth Wyyrlok III (a darth legacy?)
Darth Andeddu
Darth Karnage
Darth Tenebrous

Ugh.
posted by grubi at 9:25 AM on May 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Then again, I clearly remember seeing the scene of Biggs and Luke talking on Tatooine, where Biggs tells Luke he's joining the rebellion.

I'm betting you're remembering one of the storybooks which was illustrated with stills from the movie. I distinctly remember the Star Wars version of that having the scene with Biggs. (As does the novelization by Lucas of Star Wars, actually.) Or... you're remembering the Star Wars radio series from NPR, which had more than a few scenes of Luke on Tatooine with his friends.

FUCKING HYPERCUBE FILMS! HOW DO THEY WORK?

EARTH HAS 4 CORNER
SIMULTANEOUS 4-DAY
TIME CUBE
IN ONLY 24 HOUR ROTATION.
4 CORNER DAYS, CUBES 4 QUAD EARTH- No 1 Day God.
posted by hippybear at 9:25 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Darth Vader makes the imperial transports run on time?
posted by codacorolla at 9:27 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


> Here's the one problem I have with the ewoks: it would have been way more effective if Lucas had shown wave after wave of ewoks dying

There was at least one shot of dead Ewoks, wasn't there? Or is this just faulty memory/wishful thinking on my part?
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:29 AM on May 21, 2010


The fact that the ewoks were cute and fuzzy and did cutesy things could have been made into a shocking, poignant moment. Instead it came off kinda stupid.

IIRC it was a bit of a comment on Vietnam ("primitives" vs imperial technologically-superior forces, "primitives" achieve victory), but goddamn is it ever clumsy.
posted by grubi at 9:30 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Darth Vader makes the imperial transports run on time?

And he was bald, too.
posted by grubi at 9:30 AM on May 21, 2010


How about just the newly introduced names. "Darth Maul." Ooh, maul, like what an angry bear does to people. He must be baaaad. Maybe Princess Star Bright and her friend Happy Fluffy will come rescue everyone.

Just wait'll Darth Sidious and General Grievous show up in their Havocmobile to attack them with their Hate cannon.

Does make you wonder, though, what kind of hack propaganda team they've got working for the Empire.

SPIN DOCTOR NO. 1: So it's settled then. We'll call it . . . the Death Star!

SPIN DOCTOR NO. 2: Hmm. It's catchy, that's for sure. No one will forget "Death Star" once they've heard it a couple times. And it definitely conveys authority. Very now, very with-us-or-against-us. But might it be a little too overt about our intentions? I mean, sure, we rule the galaxy with an iron fist and crush our enemies with ruthless efficiency and all that, but don't we risk ceding the high road to the rebels? Rhetorically, I mean. Shouldn't we, you know, pretend to be liberators or something?

SD NO. 1: I hear you. The focus group reports raised the same issue. But actually our Q scores on the "refreshingly honest" scale were higher than the "stuff of my darkest nightmares" figures. Here . . . [passes folder]

SD NO. 2 [flipping pages]: Didn't like "Armageddon Sphere" at all, did they? . . . Oh, "Ball of Righteous Fury," I like that! Shame how it scored with those weak-kneed Outer Rim types . . . See, this is what I was thinking - "The Great Deshacklator."

SD NO. 1: No, sorry, too ambiguous. It's a big incandescent object in the sky that kills stuff. "Death Star." The Emperor's people were quite adamant about clarity.
posted by gompa at 9:53 AM on May 21, 2010 [24 favorites]


I came in here totally prepare to discuss The Shining, and now look.

My favorite moment in "The Shining" is [spoiler] when you hear the mean-locker door opening. I've never seen (or heard) an effect like that in any film before or since. And it doesn't involves special effects or even imagery.

What's brilliant about it is that, up to that point, the ghosts (or whatever they are) in the hotel might all be in Jack's head. The movie works really hard to say maybe they are, maybe they aren't. And nothing they ghosts do ever has any effect on real-world objects. So you're lulled into thinking that, even if they are "real" in some sense, they can't really hurt anyone.

And then the bolt slides out of the lock.

I remember when I first say the movie, thinking, "No! Wait! Not fair! They can't DO that!" But the movie said back to me. "Oh yes they can. Sleep well, tonight."

To me, this is a brilliant Kubrick moment on par with the famous match-cut between the bone and the space ship in "2001." They are both incredibly audacious moves. One says, "Oh, Cutting? That film technique that can bridge time? You like that? I'll fucking show you some cutting!" The other one says ... I don't know what it says ... it says a lot of things. One of them is "...sometimes the sound of a bolt sliding out of a lock carries with it an entire metaphysics of terror."
posted by grumblebee at 10:07 AM on May 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


How about just the newly introduced names. "Darth Maul."

Newly introduced names and you're picking on Darth Maul instead of the gastrointestinal pair of Mace Windu and Count Dooku?

OK, I'll say it: I liked Return of the Jedi.

Yub nub, eee chop yub nub,
toe meet toe pee chee keene, g'noop dock fling oh ah.
Yah wah, eee chop yah wah,
toe meet toe pee chee keene, g'noop dock fling oh ah
Coat ee chah tu yub nub,
Coat ee chah tu yah wah,
Coat ee chah tu glo wah.
allay loo ta nuv

You gonna stick with that opinion?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:37 AM on May 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Indeed. But you gotta admit, Luke couldn't be seduced by the Emperor. Which is pretty pimp in and of itself.

Well he's kind of a shitty seductor. Every time Luke is about to hit Darth Vader, he cackles and says something like "GOOD LET THE HATE FLOW THROUGH YOU". Like, know when to leave the room and let the magic happen.
posted by condour75 at 10:39 AM on May 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


Like, know when to leave the room and let the magic happen.

"I'll just leave you boys to yourselves. Play nice!"
posted by grubi at 10:52 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, I love The Shining. When I came in here, I thought I was going to learn a bunch of new things about it. Instead, it's another Star Wars post. Bah.
posted by davejay at 10:53 AM on May 21, 2010


Man, I love The Shining. When I came in here, I thought I was going to learn a bunch of new things about it. Instead, it's another Star Wars post. Bah.

Does nobody EVER float their mouse pointer over the links before clicking through?
posted by grubi at 10:58 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm okay with the idea that "Darth" is a title given to Sith Lords once they earn enough evil merit badges or whatever. It used to bug the fuck out of me, though, that in the first film Obi-Wan calls Darth Vader "Darth" as though it were his first name, when we ultimately learn that he's Luke's father and that his real name was Anakin. Then it occurred to me that Obi-Wan was being really snarky and mocking the title, so I was okay with it.

But the more I thought about it, the more I think that it wasn't Lucas' intention that Obi-Wan is being a little shitty. I think it the intention was, in fact, that "Darth" was this guy's name. Because the way Obi-Wan says it just really reads that way. And this is one of many reasons that I believe that Lucas was MAKING IT UP AS HE WENT ALONG! We hear about the over-arching plot that he constructed, and that he had pretty much the whole story in his mind before he ever started, but that's bullshit. He made it up as he went along. And I'm okay with that on some level- I'm willing to believe that Obi-Wan was making fun of Vader. It works for me. And things still hang together pretty well. Awesome, in fact, in the case of the first three movies. I love them all very deeply.

"American Graffiti" notwithstanding, George Lucas created something awesome and epic, then spent the rest of his life mauling it into meaningless pap. He defiled his own creation. There's some sort of object lesson here about hubris or something.
posted by Shohn at 11:05 AM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Every time Luke is about to hit Darth Vader, he cackles and says something like "GOOD LET THE HATE FLOW THROUGH YOU".

Well, that's kinda the point. It feels good to give into passions, so the Emperor is essentially just saying "Go ahead, do it, it'll feel good".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:06 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does nobody EVER float their mouse pointer over the links before clicking through?

When I do that (Firefox, Mac), nothing happens except that the link's URL shows up in the status bar at the bottom the browser (and that's an optional bar). And I generally don't look down there.

I know that in some browsers, "tool-tip" text pops up. Not in mine.

(I'm not upset about your Shining joke, and I doubt anyone else is, either. But, no, I don't see much when I roll over links, and if a post claims to be about X, I assume it IS about X. But I'm not going to get pissed off it it isn't, unless the post is something like, "CANCER CURED!")
posted by grumblebee at 11:06 AM on May 21, 2010


I refuse to count the last half of Return of the Jedi

In the old making-of Star Wars documentary, you learn that Lucas originally wanted the Endor moon to be inhabited by Wookies. He said they changed it because it wouldn't have made sense for Chewbacca to be a pilot on space ship, while the Wookies on the Endor moon were so primitive. This doesn't make any sense, of course. On Earth we have humans who pilot space ships, and others who hunt with spears, he just wanted cute little Ewoks that would sell more tickets to kids and launch spinoffs.

But I still fantasize about how incredible Jedi could have been had they landed on a moon full of Wookies. Just imagine it, the same music that played when the hordes of Ewoks showed up, trumpets blazing, but instead of Ewok whoops, it's Wookie roars. Great big wookies with clubs and spears and battles axes. Sweet jesus that would have been awesome.
posted by Mechashiva at 11:13 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe that Lucas was MAKING IT UP AS HE WENT ALONG!

Well, he was and he wasn't. I've read a lot on this subject, and some of the big stuff, he intended to do for a long time. Much of that got scrapped as he refined the product (or, more accurately, as his friends influenced the refining), and he saved them for random details for later (the name Mace Windu, the planet Utapau, stuff like that).

A lot of hit he DID make up as he went along, in spite of any recent claims tot eh contrary. Vader was NOT intended to be Luke's father from the start, nor was Leia intended to be Luke's sister. But after Episode IV, Lucas thought "What a neato idea!" and shoved those in their.

Personally, I find the Vader-as-father bit workable, but Leia-as-sister is a tough sell.

unless the post is something like, "CANCER CURED!"

Good thing I scrapped that first draft, then...


KIDDING!
posted by grubi at 11:14 AM on May 21, 2010


he just wanted cute little Ewoks that would sell more tickets to kids and launch spinoffs.

Ever notice all three of the original films have a whole race of midgets in them? Jawas, Ugnaughts, Ewoks...?

I think he owed the Dwarf Mafia a massive favor and was forced to pay up, that's what I think.
posted by grubi at 11:15 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Then again, I clearly remember seeing the scene of Biggs and Luke talking on Tatooine, where Biggs tells Luke he's joining the rebellion.

Cut scene between Biggs and Luke.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:58 AM on May 21, 2010


ROU_Xenophobe: "Newly introduced names and you're picking on Darth Maul instead of the gastrointestinal pair of Mace Windu and Count Dooku?"

My first thought on hearing the name Count Dooku was thinking that the Jedi would jump on his head with an 8-bit "boing!" noise and gold coins would pop out of his mouth.
posted by charred husk at 12:00 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


So Empire and Pac-man came out on the same day?

The 80s really got off to a strong start didn't they?
posted by Bonzai at 12:09 PM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The 80's were the kings.
posted by Mina Naguib at 12:11 PM on May 21, 2010


When the name "Count Dooku" was first uttered, the whole theater broke out laughing. And then he got beaten up by a CGI muppet! Christopher Lee deserves so much better, man.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:14 PM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


'plot twist' is an understatement - plot slash, maim and murder, perhaps.
posted by uni verse at 12:20 PM on May 21, 2010


Was I the only one that did a double take when they introduced the name "General Grievous?"

I heard "General Grievance" and thought for a second he was some sort of evil clone from the human resources department.
posted by Muddler at 12:22 PM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Darth - I always thought, even before the most recent three movies were made, that Darth was an earned title like "Master" for the Jedi. So, Darth Maul could really have been Steve Maul for all we know. Darth Maul was nothing but a theatrical tool to kill Qui Gon and show the power of Anakin.

Jedi Luke - Of course he was the most powerful Jedi. By the end of Return, he was the only one left! The force was the most destructive power in every movies. It's power either twisted the wielder into a tyrant or left them complacent because of their perceived strength, doomed to be slaughtered by Storm Troopers.

"I know." - I cannot think of a more badass line that Harrison Ford ever spoke. He doesn't respond in the usual way to Leia telling him she loves him. He's a tough guy, he doesn't need to do that. But the way he does it it's obvious that he does love her. I thought it was the most powerful moment of the movie. The howling wookiee was just icing on the cake.
posted by chemoboy at 12:42 PM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


'plot twist' is an understatement - plot slash, maim and murder, perhaps.

Vader being Luke's father is "plot murder"?
posted by grubi at 12:46 PM on May 21, 2010


Vader was NOT intended to be Luke's father from the start

That seems odd considering the incredible similarity between Darth Vader and "Dark Father". There's no way in hell the Luke/Leia thing was planned though.

So, Darth Maul could really have been Steve Maul for all we know.

Or Steve Smith. I assume when you pick up your title you also get to choose your Darth name. Just like Anakin/Skywalker/Darth Vader.

Darth Revan
Darth Malak


Hey, no dissin' on KotOR.
posted by kmz at 12:56 PM on May 21, 2010


I assume when you pick up your title you also get to choose your Darth name. Just like Anakin/Skywalker/Darth Vader.

He didn't pick it; it was bestowed upon him by Sidious.
posted by grubi at 1:09 PM on May 21, 2010


Bonzai: "So Empire and Pac-man came out on the same day?

The 80s really got off to a strong start didn't they?
"

I had such high hopes for that decade. Then we got Reagan and MTV and somewhere around '85 I realized that it had been all downhill from the start.
posted by octothorpe at 1:21 PM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


And all this time, I thought "Darth Vader" sounded like "Dark Invader", not "Dark Father".
posted by hippybear at 1:24 PM on May 21, 2010




Lucas claims, I think, to have thrown out her draft.

Well, it certainly sounds different from the finished product.
posted by Rangeboy at 1:26 PM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Goddammit.
posted by Rangeboy at 1:27 PM on May 21, 2010


My favorite moment in "The Shining" is [spoiler] when you hear the mean-locker door opening. I've never seen (or heard) an effect like that in any film before or since. And it doesn't involves special effects or even imagery.

Oh yes, just terrifying. The shit just got real, as it were, and literally.
posted by jokeefe at 1:43 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite moment in The Shining is Scatman Crothers' snowbird retreat in Florida. It's the most distracting piece of set design in history, and hints that Kubrick was not taking this film seriously AT ALL.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:56 PM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree that set is a mistake. But you really think he wasn't taking the film seriously? I think there's TONS of evidence, within the film, that it was made by people (not just Kubrick) who took it deeply seriously. And there's a lot of external evidence (interviews with K and his collaborators, videos of him directing scenes from it) that also make it clear that this was serious business to him.

Many people like the film and many people dislike it, but you're the first person I've ever heard say, "The director didn't take it seriously."
posted by grumblebee at 2:01 PM on May 21, 2010


On top of all that, composer John Williams gave us a now-highly-recognizable tune that has come to signify evil or the bad guys (various episodes of "The Simpsons" when Mr Burns arrives, or at Yankee Stadium when announcing the lineup for the opposing team, for example): The Imperial March.

When my kids play pretend, the one being the bad guy often sings the Imperial March while he's coming after the other one.
posted by not that girl at 2:25 PM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


There are two types of Meta Guy: a bumbling idiot who had no idea of what they're saying (or at least, not the deeper implications), or a Genre Savvy Deadpan Snarker who goes out of his way to point out flaws in each plan

Sounds about right.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:46 PM on May 21, 2010


Thanks for this post, grubi!
posted by BobFrapples at 3:25 PM on May 21, 2010


No love so far for the Imperial probe droid. The empire just had some wicked industrial design staff.

Probe droids hover and make repetitive squelchy beep sounds and look like an engineered cross between a scorpion and a black widow. You know good and well you are fucked when one comes hovering around the corner. Sure you can shoot it down but it's too late. The AT-ATs and AT-STs will be clanking around any minute now and they know exactly where you are.
posted by Babblesort at 3:40 PM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


He didn't pick it; it was bestowed upon him by Sidious.

Sideous: From now on your Sith name is.... Vader.

Vader: Why Vader?

Sideous: (belch) WHY NOT?
posted by condour75 at 4:00 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm okay with the idea that "Darth" is a title given to Sith Lords once they earn enough evil merit badges or whatever.

Excuse me? Sith? What in the fuck is a Sith? Yet another dumb word completely made the fuck up that appears exactly nowhere at all in the first three movies. And don't even get me started on midichlorians mitochondrions.

"Joe! You been infected!"
"Yeah, infected with THE FUCKING FORCE, beeyotch!"

It is my most sincere hope that in twenty years time 'Lucas' is going to end up one of those words like 'Hitler' that you just can't get away with saying in polite company.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:00 PM on May 21, 2010


Many people like the film and many people dislike it, but you're the first person I've ever heard say, "The director didn't take it seriously."

I honestly think a lot of the film is an expression of a very dark, very antagonistic sense of humor. I feel that way about a lot of Kubrick's films.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:37 PM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]




Excuse me? Sith? What in the fuck is a Sith? Yet another dumb word completely made the fuck up that appears exactly nowhere at all in the first three movies.

They don't mention "Ewok" either, but the word was well known at the time. So was "Sith".
posted by grubi at 7:06 PM on May 21, 2010


Civil Disobediant, I'm pretty sure Darth Vader is referred to in at least one of the films as either a or the "Dark Lord of the Sith."

It was one of those throw away lines that seemed so cool because it was never explained who or what the Sith were. Until the great suckening.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:26 PM on May 21, 2010


I honestly think a lot of the film is an expression of a very dark, very antagonistic sense of humor. I feel that way about a lot of Kubrick's films.

Oh absolutely. There's no other way to watch Barry Lyndon, for example.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:19 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah Sith was on merchandising stuff from the original series. Gotta admit, it's a good word. Sounds like a snake.

Re Kubrick: I think there's a difference between taking a project seriously and taking the source material seriously. If you want to make a a Stephen King novel into a movie faithfully, you hire a competent, workmanlike director and the guy from Wings and you churn it out. It's not hard... the guy basically writes for film adaptations.

I don't think Kubrick was particularly concerned with faithfulness. Jack Nicholson's clearly batshit crazy from scene 1. The book is about a father who might've been a nice guy but had the bad luck to be an alcoholic in a haunted house. The movie's a horror story about fatherhood, patriarchy, and history. Movie Jack never really struggles with his transformation. He's seduced by an admonition to act the way a white man "should" act when faced with insubordination by the women and children (especially when aided by the help!), and to get his house in order.

Come to think of it, note to Darth: if you really wanted Luke to turn to the dark side, you should've dropped him off at the abandoned Hoth base alone, waited a few months, and showed up as a ghost bartender.
posted by condour75 at 10:31 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sith is mentioned 5 times in this script for Star Wars. I'm sure it's in the novelization, but I'm not going to dig it out just to look. It's been part of the Star Wars vocabulary since very early on.
posted by hippybear at 10:58 PM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I remember most from seeing The Empire Strikes Back as a kid was Luke's vision quest where he chops off dream-Vader's head and the helmet rolls off and he sees his own face! Brainsplosion! For a long time I couldn't get my mind-grapes off of that bit.

(I also remember that I didn't like it at all. I found it very distressing. I thought about everything I didn't like about it constantly. Some years later, when I was a teenager, I saw it again and found it had become my favorite in the trilogy.)
posted by wobh at 10:12 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


wobh - there's so much in that movie that is flat-out well beyond what any child would normally have to deal with, that it is flat-out wrong for Lucas to claim it's a "kid's movie".
posted by grubi at 11:28 AM on May 22, 2010


I honestly think a lot of the film is an expression of a very dark, very antagonistic sense of humor. I feel that way about a lot of Kubrick's films.

Oh absolutely. There's no other way to watch Barry Lyndon, for example.


Well, I think he did have a dark sense of humor. You just need to watch "Dr. Strangelove" and "Lolita" to see that.

[SPOILERS] But I don't see "Barry Lyndon" as the work of a PURELY dark, antagonistic mind. To me, it's the story of an incredibly ambitious but not-very-smart-or-talented man. His ambition carries him a long way, but since he can't back it up with brains, abilities or character, it all unravels.

And yet, the movie is, in many scenes, tender-hearted towards him. The movie makes fun of him, too, but it doesn't do this relentlessly. There are incredibly touching scenes. There are scenes in which the director has manipulated the drama specifically to make you feel sorry for Barry. And even the dry narrator, at one point, says something like, "Say what you like about Barry, but no one could accuse him of not being a loving or attentive father." This is before an incredibly moving scene in which his child dies.

It's basically an Icarus story. Icarus is a great myth, because two people can react to it very differently. Person one can say, "It's a story about this asshole named Icarus." Person two can say, "It's a story of this poor fool named Icarus." Neither is right or wrong, and their individual readings say more about them than the story. I think "Barry Lyndon" is similar.

MANY of Kubricks heroes are are complex in similar ways. Are we meant to feel sorry for Humbert Humbert or hate him (or laugh at him)? What about Charlotte in the same movie? What about Bill in "Eyes Wide Shut"? What about Jack in "The Shining"? What about HAL in "2001"? I think Kubrick creates "character space" in which different viewers can move around and feel different things.
posted by grumblebee at 11:46 AM on May 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


On top of all that, composer John Williams gave us a now-highly-recognizable tune that has come to signify evil or the bad guys (various episodes of "The Simpsons" when Mr Burns arrives, or at Yankee Stadium when announcing the lineup for the opposing team, for example): The Imperial March.

When my kids play pretend, the one being the bad guy often sings the Imperial March while he's coming after the other one.


It works nicely when driving around the Microsoft campus, too.
posted by jokeefe at 11:48 AM on May 22, 2010


there's so much in that movie that is flat-out well beyond what any child would normally have to deal with, that it is flat-out wrong for Lucas to claim it's a "kid's movie".

It's funny. In the year following the movie I was stuffed inside a dead tauntaun to prevent hypothermia, cut off my own fathers head in a hallucination, had my real father cut off my hand before I threw myself down an air shaft and almost fell to my death, was betrayed by an old friend and frozen in carbonite after being tortured so much that I felt terrible.

So I thought it prepared me pretty well for my life. Then again, I had an abnormal childhood. I was, however, not trained in the use of magic by a muppet. So that whole part of the movie was completely worthless.

these make me very happy

That sleeping bag is so incredibly cool. The lightsaber zipper is a nice touch.
posted by chemoboy at 12:16 PM on May 22, 2010


The Empire Strikes Back Turns 30, As Do Fans’ Psychic Scars:
George Lucas likes to defend his comparatively lame prequels (Episode I, II, and III) by saying that they are kids’ movies. That, he suggests, is why all those thirty-something Star Wars nerds don’t appreciate the new movies. I’m calling bullshit on this. Has Lucas actually seen Empire? Empire is a lot of things, but it’s certainly not a kids’ movie. How do I know? Because I saw that movie when I was five years old and it pretty much fucked me up for life.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:16 PM on May 22, 2010


God wouldn't be nice if we trade the three prequels for a competently written version of what happens when they all sit down in Cloud City for dinner?

Eh, I'd much rather trade them in for a well-made adaptation of the Heir to the Empire Trilogy. It's the true sequel and everyone knows it.


I believe that Lucas was MAKING IT UP AS HE WENT ALONG!

Well, he was and he wasn't.


Very true. While he certainly had some ideas that he kept as he went along he flat-out admitted it the other day in a letter to the producers of Lost:

"Don't tell anyone ... but when 'Star Wars' first came out, I didn't know where it was going either. The trick is to pretend you've planned the whole thing out in advance."

Yes, it's a joking aside, but it feels a lot more like the kernel of truth in this one is still unpopped and lying at the bottom of the bowl.

Even the best explanation -- that he had ideas for a lot more, but trimmed them all down to make one, stand-alone film that turned out to be wildly successful -- still comes out with little to no intention that it was really planned in any great detail. Star Wars was simply a stand-alone film that, in the tradition of earlier serials, was smart enough not to kill off the villain at the end. As soon as it started making tons of money they quickly added in the "Episode IV - A New Hope" bit to the text crawl and claimed it was always intended to be a trilogy... no, not even that... a nine-film ennealogy! Now they've even gone back on those earlier claims and it was a hexalogy all along.

God damn it. I just watched The Shining again and really want to discuss it.

It all comes down to the bear costume.


A director as meticulous as Kubrick didn't put that in there by mistake. I know there's a meaning and intent behind it and I don't think I'll ever be able to rest until I understand it. Was it Kubrick's way of coming out as a before-his-time furry?
posted by Belgand at 5:59 PM on May 22, 2010


I believe that Lucas was MAKING IT UP AS HE WENT ALONG!

There's nothing wrong with making it up as you go along.

The problem when one does that and it turns out shitty (see BSG final season and finale).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:46 PM on May 22, 2010


Apparently, it's a dog. Which is too bad, as I liked referring to that scene as "bj and the bear".

And yeah, still doesn't explain why Kubrick decided to include it context-free. But non-sequitir seems to rank high in his comedic instinct.
posted by condour75 at 7:45 PM on May 22, 2010


A director as meticulous as Kubrick didn't put that in there by mistake. I know there's a meaning and intent behind it and I don't think I'll ever be able to rest until I understand it.

It was put there, in a completely serious way, to signal the complete depravity of the past goings-on at the Overlook Hotel.
posted by jokeefe at 11:55 PM on May 22, 2010


It was put there, in a completely serious way, to signal the complete depravity of the past goings-on at the Overlook Hotel.

I think it's there for another reason (in addition to this), but it's almost not worth talking about, because if you don't already know the reason, you probably won't agree with what I'm about to say: it's there because it's terrifying.

A good comeback to that is, "No, it's not. It didn't scare me at all. It was just weird."

I think much of the movie is like that. It's one man's idea of what's scary. It's VERY personal. If you don't have the same monsters under your bed that Kubrick had under his, you won't find certain aspects of the film scary -- and those aspects will just seem arbitrary to you.

When I first saw "The Shining," it terrified me like no other film ever had (and nothing has even approached it since). It was like Kubrick knew exactly what scared me and put all those things into a film. But I have talked to several people who have said, "It wasn't scary to me at all. I just thought it was silly."

There's nothing to debate here. They honestly weren't scared. I honestly was. (And I'm not easily scared. I almost never find horror films scary.)

To me, the dog moment is terrifying because it happens very quickly and it's inexplicable while being suggestive. I'm in Wendy's shoes when it happens. I'm one with her. And my senses are assaulted with the idea that (a) there are other PEOPLE in the hotel; (b) the SEE me; (c) they are doing something I can never understand; (d) what they are doing is scary*; (e) what they are doing is sexual and they might want to involve me or they might kill me because I can see them; (f) what they are doing -- this strange, humorless (note the expression on the uncostumed guy), perverse thing -- is somehow connected to my husband! (g) because this is so inexplicable, the future is totally unknown. ANYTHING might happen.

* or, if you're of a different mindset, what they are doing is just silly.

There is a suggestion throughout the movie that whatever is going on in the hotel is both violent and sexual. The woman in room 237, etc. I think Kubrick wants to plant that idea in your mind and let your mind take it where it will.

The party section of "Eyes Wide Shut" is similar. I think Kubrick, a rationalist, was frightened of the idea of people engaged in bizarre, inexplicable rituals. And so am I. So that part of the movie gets to me. I know others who see it and think, "This is just stupid" or "Oh, a sex party. Whatever."

Everything in "The Shining" is there for one main purpose: to scare you. Kubrick was an intellectual filmmaker, so people want to mine his films for symbolism and thematic elements. And there's nothing wrong with that. But he was also -- for all his sophistication -- a genre guy. He wanted to make sci-fi movies, horror movies, historical dramas, crime stories, etc. And he wanted those sorts of stories to do what they are supposed to do. In other words, when he made a horror film, he wanted it to SCARE PEOPLE.

And he succeeded.

And he failed.
posted by grumblebee at 8:35 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The "i love you","i know" exchange was actually an on-the-set addition by Harrison Ford* who frankly was also a major influence on the non-suck of episode V.

Empire Strikes Back was directed by Irvin Kershner, Lucas only gets story credits.
posted by vhsiv at 1:53 PM on May 23, 2010


Empire Strikes Back was directed by Irvin Kershner

That's funny; I mentioned that in the post itself:

The best theory for why it stands out from the rest of the Star Wars saga? George Lucas anded over the reins of screenwriting (first to Leigh Brackett and subsequently to Lawrence Kasdan) and directing (to Irvin Kirshner, of The Eyes of Laura Mars fame and one of Lucas' filmmaking mentors), allowing competent professionals to handle the stuff Lucas wasn't so hot at (words, storytelling).

(not being a dick; just mentioning it)
posted by grubi at 6:43 AM on May 24, 2010


We should give some credit to Gary Kurtz too. He was the producer of Star Wars and Empire but not Return or any of the prequels.
posted by octothorpe at 6:57 AM on May 24, 2010


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