Monday, May 16, 2005

Star Wars, Nothing But Star Wars

Just a few days before Revenge Of The Sith opens, and the major reviews are starting to dribble out. Thumbs up, for instance, from Roger Ebert and The New York Times. It looks like this film may be the real thing. I can hardly wait.

However, I must take issue with A.O. Scott of the Times. I think he misreads the political subtext. Here's Scott:
" 'This is how liberty dies - to thunderous applause,' Padmé observes as senators,their fears and dreams of glory deftly manipulated by Palpatine, vote to give him sweeping new powers. Revenge of the Sith is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, about how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders. At one point, Darth Vader, already deep in the thrall of the dark side and echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, 'If you're not with me, you're my enemy.' Obi-Wan's response is likely to surface as a bumper sticker during the next election campaign: 'Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.' "
This is too crude and too far from what's really happened to be mocking Bush--Lucas isn't that stupid. No, this is clearly self-satire. The liberty he's referring to that died was Hollywood's openness to different sorts of films. That ended--to thunderous applause--when Star Wars (1977) started a craze for simplistic blockbusters. And as for Manichaean ideology, no one beats the "me good, Hollywood evil" absolutist stance that Lucas has had for decades, so obviously reflected in an epic that incessantly notes the dangers of the "dark" side, not the "grey" side. I'm glad to see Lucas is wise enough to finally laugh at himself.


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