George Lucas is a Genius & ‘REVENGE OF THE SITH’ May Be the Greatest Work of Art in Our Lifetimes…

Posted: May 5, 2016 in (All Things) CULTURE, FILM
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So yesterday was Star Wars Day.
I’m a day late, but I spent most of yesterday getting back to my foremost passion in life – defending the genius of George Lucas and trying to explain that he created one of the greatest and most under-appreciated works of art in all history.

I could apply that statement to the six-film Star Wars saga as a whole, but in this instance I refer specifically to Revenge of the Sith – the 2005 magnum opus that concluded Lucas’s original saga.

As fun as it may have been,  never mind The Force AwakensRevenge of the Sith is still (and probably always will be) the greatest thing that will ever come out of the Star Wars franchise. I always go further, in fact, and say that it’s the greatest thing that will ever come out of big-budget, action/fantasy cinema at all. George Lucas’s final contribution to his Star Wars legacy – 2005’s final prequel offering – was not only an artistic, cinematic and operatic masterpiece, but it was the ultimate, consummate manifestation of everything Star Wars was capable of being and, for that matter, everything that big-scale cinema is capable of being.

It literally does not – and probably can’t – get better than this ever again.

Lucas, who himself pretty much set the standard and invented the genre in 1977, had now taken us to the absolute zenith of what that genre of film-making could produce.

Epic, ambitious, stunning, moving, nuanced, and everything else, it was the glorious completion of Lucas’s original Star Wars saga that I had been waiting for – and something for which I will always be immensely grateful George Lucas came back to film-making to give us. I have already made the case at length for why Revenge of the Sith was an absolute masterpiece of staggering proportions, so I’ll refrain from re-stating here all the gushing, over-enthusiastic fan-boy reasons I eternally bow at the altar of that film and its unfairly maligned architect.

People who didn’t get it or still don’t get it probably never will get it.

I’ve given up arguing with those on the tedious backlash bandwagon, those who join in with the hipster Lucas-bashing for the sake of YouTube channel views, or those who, like a spoilt, First World child throwing a tantrum, bitterly disavow George Lucas and whine about how the prequels ‘ruined Star Wars’.

Someone who did get it, however, was the noted feminist author and social critic Camille Paglia: she of course famously declared a few years ago that George Lucas was the greatest artist of his time and specifically that Revenge of the Sith was the greatest work of art in the last thirty years.

The respected, if often controversial, academic, Paglia didn’t argue that Episode III  was merely the best movie of the last thirty years… but the best work of art in any genre and in any medium.

For the record, Paglia is hardly a pop-culture junkie or action-loving popcorn muncher. In 2005, the journalist and former lecturer was ranked #20 on a Prospect/Foreign Policy poll of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals. Predictably a lot of people either assumed Paglia was being sarcastic or they simply pooh-poohed her conclusions. Paglia, however, was not trying to be ironic, and she has reaffirmed and defended her position over and over again and with a passion – Lucas’s final Star Wars film, she maintained, is the greatest work of art in the last three decades.

See her at the Chicago Humanities Festival, enthusing at length about the film, in the video clip below.

I of course don’t disagree with her.

I cannot think of any film in any genre that has been as absorbing or as immaculate (or as ambitious). Even just conceptually, what Lucas tried to do with the prequel trilogy was staggering and is without any parallel. And while we could argue that the execution was off-the-mark in certain places, the sheer visceral power and broad artistic value of what he did manage to create – even with its various failings – puts Lucas’s saga (and ROTS in particular) into a different stratosphere entirely.

In her own view of it, Paglia especially focuses on the final act of the third prequel – the climactic finale centering on the extended Anakin/Kenobi lightsaber duel against the dramatic lava backdrop and the extraordinarily powerful way that the birth of the Skywalker twins is juxtaposed with the ‘death’ of Anakin and ‘birth’ of Vader. That latter sequence, by the way, in which the death of the mother coincides (and even feeds into) the birth of the ‘dark father’, all of it underscored by John Williams‘ haunting, gothic choral/hymn composition, is just one example (among many) of Lucas’s extraordinarily acute and nuanced levels of vision.

‘The long finale of Revenge of the Sith has more inherent artistic value, emotional power, and global impact than anything by the artists you name,’ she said in this interview with Vice. ‘It’s because the art world has flat-lined and become an echo chamber of received opinion and toxic over-praise. It’s like the emperor’s new clothes – people are too intimidated to admit what they secretly think or what they might think with their blinders off.’

 
 

 

Speaking to FanGirlBlog, Paglia continued her celebration of Lucas’s final masterwork, saying, ‘I have been saying to interviewers and onstage, “The finale of Revenge of the Sith is the most ambitious, significant, and emotionally compelling work of art produced in the last 30 years in any genre – including literature.”

Paglia’s assertions flowed from her 2012 book Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars, which in part addressed the problem of modern cultural ignorance and the author’s worries that 21st century Americans are overexposed to visual stimulation by the “all-pervasive mass media” and must fight to keep their capacity for contemplation.

In the book, Paglia discusses twenty-nine examples of visual artwork, beginning with the ancient Egyptian funerary images of Queen Nefertari, and then progressing through various artistic works, including creations from Ancient Greece to Byzantine art and Donatello’s ‘Mary Magdalene’.

She explained, ‘Lucas was not part of my original plan for Glittering Images, which has 29 chapters crossing 3000 years. My goal was to write a very clear and concise handbook to the history of artistic styles from antiquity to the present. When I looked around for strong examples of contemporary art to end the book with, however, I got very frustrated. There is a lot of good art being made, but I found it overall pretty underwhelming. When I would happen on the finale of Revenge of the Sith, I just sat there stunned. It grew and grew on me, and I became obsessed with it. I was amazed at how much is in there – themes of love and hate, politics, industry, technology, and apocalyptic nature, combined with the dance theater of that duel on the lava river and then the parallel, agonizing death/births. It’s absolutely tremendous.’

Paglia also entirely recognised the sheer scale of Lucas’s creation and the value of even its various constituent parts as important or worthy works of art. ‘The fantastically complex model of the Mustafar landscape made for the production of Revenge of the Sith should be honored as an important work of contemporary installation art,’ she argued. ‘And also that Lucas’ spectacular air battles, like the one over Coruscant that opens Sith, are sophisticated works of kinetic art in the tradition of important artists like Marcel Duchamp and Alexander Calder. No one has ever written about George Lucas in this way -integrating him with the entire fine arts tradition.’

 
STAR WARS EPISODE III: Revenge of the Sith – An Underrated Masterpiece...
 

The problem is that Lucas and the prequel trilogy have become so widely misrepresented as ‘bad’ that most people don’t know how to deal with someone like Paglia sincerely proclaiming “Nothing in the last 30 years has been produced – in any of the arts – that is as significant or as emotionally compelling as Revenge of the Sith…”

It isn’t a problem for me – as I didn’t need any convincing.

Again, as I’ve already posted quite emphatically as to why Revenge of the Sith is an utter masterwork, I’m refraining from listing all the reasons again or all the great moments or elements that fill the movie – there are just too many and I’ll sound like an over-excited child.

In fact, contrary to widespread misconceptions about how the Star Wars films are viewed, a Rotten Tomatoes poll last October found that Revenge of the Sith (and not Empire Strikes Back) scored as the best-regarded of the movies according to aggregation of archived reviews. So the idea that everyone dismisses the prequels seems like a misconception; but it is fair to say that a substantial body of people – including a lot of people who, rather incongruously, regard themselves as Star Wars fans – do completely dismiss this film along with its two predecessors.

As I said at the start, people who didn’t get it or still don’t get it probably never will get it.

But what has always struck me as pitiful about the whiny ‘Lucas Ruined Star Wars’ attitude is that it seems to flow from the premise that Lucas – a man whose stubborn commitment to his own singular vision gave an entire generation from the late 70s and early 80s unparalleled joy – somehow ‘owes it’ to those same people to do things precisely how *they* deem acceptable. That’s essentially what it comes down to – that he, as the artist, should make the art that the fans or the public want and not follow his own creative vision.

What people don’t realise, however, is that if he had done that from the beginning, there never would’ve BEEN an original Star Wars trilogy at all – and arguably all of these huge blockbuster SF/fantasy films that people spend their money seeing today wouldn’t exist either. What a lot of people also don’t realise is that Lucas was never setting himself up to be a populist or even mainstream filmmaker. On the contrary, he was the avant-garde film geek, the rogue, the outsider. The fact that Star Wars spiraled into a billion-dollar behemoth was an accident; and when the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977, it was an oddity that no one in the film industry understood or believed in.

But Lucas had stuck to his own creative vision – a vision that was largely incomprehensible to everyone else at the time the film was being made – and his singular vision hit the mark big-time and accomplished something unprecedented.

By the time of the endlessly-maligned The Phantom Menace in 1999 and everything that followed, Lucas was still doing exactly the same thing – following his own vision, trying to create something extraordinary and largely ignoring contemporary trends or opinion. The only difference was that the vast fan-base he had acquired from the original films were older now, far more jaded and over-saturated with blockbuster movies (most of which were influenced by Lucas’s pioneering work in the 70s) and they essentially didn’t *want* something new, creative or challenging – they just wanted the same thing they’d had when they were kids.

In effect, they weren’t interested in Lucas the artist or Lucas the pioneer – they only wanted Lucas the Popcorn Movie dispenser. But Lucas the Popcorn Movie Dispenser had never existed – he was simply an illusion created by the extraordinary commercial success of the Star Wars Trilogy.

What Lucas had in fact envisioned – and created – with the prequel trilogy, especially Revenge of the Sith, was something that transcended the whole summer blockbuster ennui, transcended genre, transcended the very medium of film itself, and could be discussed in the same breath as Shakespeare, Virgil and the Aeneid, Julius Caesar, and a number of equally fascinating and endlessly debatable works of serious and complex gravity.

 
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But there was an audience of millions who were instead looking for something that could be discussed alongside Jurassic Park or Terminator 2. Which is fine – Star Wars of course can also be discussed just as validly in that latter context too; but it also exists in a stratosphere beyond it. And because Lucas’s process and vision was in that higher stratosphere a lot of the time, there was a frequent disconnect that occurred, whereby a lot of people were unable to meet him halfway or relate to the films on those kinds of levels.

But Lucas pushed on with his long-envisioned trilogy; and by the time the final installment of his Star Wars saga arrived in 2005, a sizeable proportion of the old fan-base had either departed or were by now just coming to the party for the thrill of seeing Darth Vader one last time. Some dismissed the film the same way as they’d dismissed its two predecessors, some were full of scathing mockery, while others were ambivalent. Some were suitably entertained, but didn’t take it much further than that.

Another group, a smaller minority – myself included – had just seen something of epic, overwhelming proportions and had the greatest cinematic experience of their lives.

But great art is like that.

Great works of art divides people, provoking endless debate – the debates around the prequel trilogy and ROTS are still going now – just look at how many podcasts are still arguing back and forth on the subject. An argument could be made that the greatest artist will go all-out to create something special and substantive, even if it won’t appeal to everyone. Said artist would follow his own creative vision and not compromise it to the committee of consensus or demand.

Lucas, it should be borne in mind, never made ANY of the Star Wars films with film-critics in mind – even the Original Trilogy movies were not critically approved, despite becoming cultural landmarks. And interestingly, the hang-ups of many of those who were scathing about the prequel movies – ROTS included – were virtually identical to the hang-ups of the critics in the early 80s who either just didn’t get those original Star Wars films or were unwilling to praise a rogue filmmaker who was rebelling against Hollywood at the time and who was making something entirely out-of-step with contemporary trends and sensibilities.

Fittingly enough, the Lucas who was out-of-step with the sensibilities of the time during the late 70s and early 80s is the same Lucas who was equally out-of-step with sensibilities and trends at the time of the prequels too. In both eras, Lucas rebelled against the sensibilities of contemporary cinema and carved out his own piece of utter magic according to his own stubborn vision – the difference is that so many of the same people who adored what he had done in the first instance couldn’t understand what he was doing in the second instance.

Even though what he was doing was essentially the same thing.

For that matter, I always suspected that one of the main reasons so many people failed to appreciate (or in a lot of cases, to even understand) this film is precisely because it isn’t contemporary. That’s a key thing to understand about the Star Wars prequels – they were not made in a contemporary style.

Lucas doesn’t make contemporary cinema. Both of Lucas’s Star Wars trilogies are written and designed specifically to NOT be contemporary, but to have a more timeless quality, steeped in traditions from the past.

Lucas, you have to remember, has never been a contemporary or generic filmmaker, but a more avant-garde artist and experimenter who foremost specialises in tone and impressionism. The fact that he invented modern blockbuster cinema is purely an accident. As he himself once said, “None of the films I’ve done was designed for a mass audience, except for ‘Indiana Jones.’ Nobody in their right mind thought ‘American Graffiti’ or ‘Star Wars’ would work”.

 
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And I’m not even going to go into the wonderful complexities of Mike Klimo‘s ‘Ring Theory‘ (which explores/explains some of the extremely intricate, even hidden, complexity of Lucas’s film structure for his six films – I hardly needed convincing of Lucas’s storytelling and filmmaking genius but Klimo’s Ring Theory expands our understanding of Lucas and Star Wars to a whole new level); but even just on a basic level, none of those three prequel films was designed to conform to the way films were being structured, written or acted at the time (or even now).

They were not contemporary or generic at all – consequently, a lot of people didn’t understand or relate to what they were watching: because they couldn’t find a point of comparison in popular culture.

To really understand those films, you have to go back to some of the historical epics of the fifties and sixties, particularly films like Ben-Hur, Cleopatra or Spartacus. If you watch any of those films (and all three are timeless, truly marvelous cinematic works) and then watch the three Star Wars prequels, it will suddenly make much more sense. The acting style, the dialogue style, the themes, the epic scope and settings, the vast mythologizing, the way the films are scored, even the intricate costume design – all of it.

There’s nothing surprising about that. After all, it’s easy to overlook the fact now from our current vantage-point, but the original Star Wars trilogy movies weren’t contemporary in style either – they were stylistically based on things like Kurosawa, Flash Gordon and the Saturday matinee serials of the 1930s and 40s. The original trilogy films made no stylistic sense in terms of contemporary cinema or sensibilities in the late 70s or early 80s – they were, in style, a homage to a long-gone era.

So too were the prequels – just a different homage to a different era.

And with that in mind, and in the context of her views on Lucas and Revenge of the Sith, it is interesting to note that Paglia participates in the poll of film professionals conducted by Sight & Sound which asks participants to submit a list of what they believe to be the ten greatest films of all time. According to her responses to the poll in 2002 and 2012, the films Paglia holds in highest regard did in fact include Ben-Hur, along with Lawrence of Arabia and films like The Godfather and Gone With the Wind, and also Citizen Kane (also interesting, given the obvious parallels between George Lucas and Orson Welles, as well as parallels between Welles’s fictional Charles Foster Kane and the real-life story of Lucas – Xanadu/Skywalker Ranch?).

I cite Welles and Kane not as an insult, by the way. Welles, like Lucas, was a genius and an absolute pioneer; and like Lucas, he had world-changing success too early in his film career and spent the rest of his life in the shadow of Citizen Kane.

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When you look at everything that makes up Revenge of the Sith, the scope of vision along with the degree of artistic nuance and juxtaposition is breathtaking.

There’s lots of action, yes, as you’d expect; but the action, like so much of what Lucas was doing by this stage, is almost transcendent. Sure, the acting or delivery is off in a few places; mostly due to some of the actors having to perform in non-existent CG environments – remember Lucasfilm and ILM were breaking new ground technologically in these movies, which we take for granted now with all our CG and digital filmmaking, but which at the time were bound to cause some teething problems. But Ewan McGregor is superb in this film, while the maligned Hayden Christensen is nowhere near as bad as people choose to think and in fact does a solid job in any number of key scenes.

And there’s everything else. The special effects aren’t just good, they’re actually often beautiful in a way that most special effects don’t aspire to be. The level of detail and artistry in the visuals mean you could turn the sound off and still be captivated. Some of the backdrops could make extraordinary paintings that could hang convincingly in art galleries. And Lucas is the absolute master of the establishing shot and the scene transition, turning it into an art every bit as nuanced as in a piece of music.

For that matter, the music is extraordinary – and actually if you look at how underwhelming or non-existent the music is in the post-Lucas ‘The Force Awakens’, it becomes clear that Lucas and Williams had a collaborative process that really influenced how these films were scored (and which is now no longer the case). Lucas himself said that the music was 50 percent of what mattered in these films and that is certainly evident.

Much of it, particularly the climatic Kenoni/Skywalker duel and that final act with the birth of the twins, death of Padme and creation of Vader, almost isn’t cinema at all – but opera. This could’ve been something Wagner was composing if he had ever existed in the cinema age.

In fact, the final few scenes of the film don’t even have any dialogue, but are purely musical and visual. Even some of the most stirring parts earlier on in the film are without dialogue; take, for example, the breathtakingly beautiful sequence of Anakin and Padme trying to silently sense for each other across the exquisite, sunset cityscape – it’s all visual, tone and subtle music, pure emotion with no dialogue. A scene like that could almost be part of a silent movie; and it’s also like an impressionist painting in motion.

Even that Kenobi/Skywalker duel itself is more than just an action sequence. With Williams’ epic, stirring, choral score, it too is opera. But it’s opera married to performance art: the level of intricacy, fluency and speed of Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen’s dueling is insane, having required an immense amount of prep and practise. The choreography takes it onto the level of dance; of true performance art as opposed to disposable cartoon violence or cheap blockbuster action.

Everything here – to the last detail – is choreographed like a ballet and it is spellbinding.

Yet while other filmmakers would try to sell an entire movie on such an exquisite centerpiece, for Lucas all of this – all of this poetry, opera, dance, music, visual art and everything else – is ultimately mere constituent part to a greater whole: a Shakespearan epic of a tortured fall from grace and a Greek tragedy about the dangers of loving someone too much; and that too wrapped within an even larger epic about the fall of a Republic, the fallibility of religion and the genius of the Devil and failure of the angels.

 
Natalie Portman (Senator Padmé Amidala) and Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) listen to director George Lucas describe the next shot on the set of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. TM & © 2005 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
 

Evoking everything from the fall of the Roman Republic and birth of the Roman Empire to the eradication of the Templars, the rise of Hitler and Fascism to the corporate takeover of American democracy, Lucas concludes his epic story about politics, corruption, war, false-flag plots, the occult, religion, and of course love, obsession, friendship, loyalty, betrayal.

It’s a story about how democracies fall, yet equally about how empires become inevitable. And about how religions and orthodoxies become stagnant and ineffective. It’s a story about death and birth and rebirth. And about both the destructive power of obsessive love, and yet also the redeeming power of unconditional love. It’s a story too about fallibility, a story in which every one of the Good Guys is in error and no one emerges from the story without being full of regret. It’s a story about predestination paradoxes.

It is also bleak as fuck; and yet ends on a note of bittersweet – almost religious – hope and optimism. It is the conclusion of a story, yet also the prologue to a story we all know like the backs of our hands.

What Lucas created in fact was the ultimate expression/culmination of the art of the epic itself – fittingly enough, in order to conclude the defining epic of our modern times (what Brian Blessed once described as the Shakespeare of our age). The Shakespeare comparisons aren’t trivial. The evident Star Wars/Shakespeare resonance has even prompted things like Ian Doescher’s book William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third – a retelling of Revenge of the Sith as if it had been written by William Shakespeare for real. It also led to Joe Nussbaum’s cult independent film George Lucas in Love, which is a humorous riff on the film Shakespeare in Love.

Various observers, including academics, have noted the obvious fact that Lucas’s story is also a retelling of the fall of the Roman Republic and birth of the Roman Empire. Lucas himself admitted this, pointing to how Revenge of the Sith in particular is partly a story about democracies become dictatorships and citing the historical stories of Caesar and Augustus. You can quite easily watch the prequel trilogy alongside I, Claudius or something like HBO’s brilliant Rome series.

But none of those references or allusions are the important part. Even the fact that the prequel trilogy – and again, ROTS in particular – is quite clearly in part a story about false-flag wars, banking conspiracies, the corporate and military-industrial complex, the Bush administration and the Iraq War, etc – isn’t particularly relevant to the issue of why it’s such an epic work of significance.

Lucas is the author and architect of our preeminent modern mythology – as interviewer Bill Moyers asserted during his fascinating and revealing 1999 interview with Lucas (for the release of The Phantom Menace). Partly inspired by his friend Joseph Campbell’s thoughts on mythology, but moreover informed by his own careful distillation of elements from various cultures and civilisations (what he has referred to as our collective human ‘archaeological psychology’), Lucas is every bit as influential as Virgil, Homer or Shakespeare were in their respective times, and has crafted out the ultimate mythological saga.

 
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Revenge of the Sith is the final, completing piece of that saga – the piece that gives the saga its full scope and true soul, and the piece that makes every one of the other films count for so much more.

And it does it so well – with such vivid and breathtaking quality – that, even having written an article as long as this one now is (and another before this), I still don’t feel like I’m adequately able to explain its full brilliance.

Neither could Lucas himself, I suspect. I’m not sure Lucas even realised how masterful it was; but, as Paglia and others note, the guy is so mild-mannered and self-deprecating that it simply wasn’t in his nature to boast about his own work. Instead he just took in all the abuse and mockery with mild bemusement, shrugged his shoulders and walked off into the twin sunset, knowing that with Revenge of the Sith he had finished what he’d come back to do.

In fact, what Lucas did was so extraordinary, so complex and so nuanced that it may take another decade or two for people to even appreciate it properly – assuming they ever do. As film experts like Mike Klimo have noted, some of what Lucas did in ROTS and the prequels may have been so sophisticated that he deliberately didn’t talk about it, but just left it there, not knowing that anyone would ever even notice.

This, as I said earlier, goes beyond cinema, and possibly even beyond Star Wars itself. Lucas genuinely outdid himself, and it is unlikely anyone will reach that height again – firstly because no one is going to be in the position Lucas was in again in terms of total ownership of a property, and secondly because no one is going to have that kind of ambition again, especially having seen how much of a backlash Lucas received from the legions of popcorn munchers, YouTube profiteers and ungrateful fans who were really looking for something much more in keeping with a generic, formulaic, standardized blockbuster formula.

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Perhaps fittingly enough, what we’ve had more recently with the newly revived franchise and The Force Awakens is precisely the kind of film most people were wanting or expecting in 1999 when the prequel trilogy arrived – a safer, less ambitious and easier-to-process film much more like what Lucas put out in 1977.

While legions of fans and critics alike lavish great praise on Disney’s relaunching of the Star Wars franchise and on last December’s ‘The Force Awakens’,  what they are essentially praising is a mere pastiche of or homage to Lucas’s original 1977-1983 trilogy – a film that essentially wasn’t trying to do anything but recapture something Lucas had already accomplished three decades ago. Which is fine; and I enjoyed The Force Awakens. But it doesn’t even enter the same ball park of what Lucas had tried to do with the prequel trilogy, especially Revenge of the Sith.

For sheer intent, ambition and willingness alone, Lucas should’ve been celebrated – regardless of any actual failings with the end product. And those prequels do have their failings; and so does ROTS.

But someone trying to build a Tower of Babel is inevitably going to experience more hitches than someone building a new Starbucks on the high street.

Lucas appears to have been fully at peace with that, having observed ‘I’ve worked hard enough and earned enough to fail for the rest of my life. And I’m going to do it’. But failings don’t equate to ‘failure’. And for whatever its various failings are, Revenge of the Sith remains an immense triumph of will, vision and multi-faceted artistic brilliance across the board.

The problem for me – and it’s been a problem ever since I first watched the film in 2005 – is that I doubt anyone will reach this sublime level of epic storytelling and filmmaking ever again; which makes it difficult to sustain any comparable excitement for anything that has followed in cinema. Or might yet follow.

 

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Some recommended additional reading/viewing: ‘Star Wars: Ring Theory‘ By Mike Klimo, ‘Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars‘ by Camile Paglia, ‘The Mythology of Star Wars: Bill Moyers Interviews George Lucas‘ (1999).

 

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Comments
  1. smilingldsgirl says:

    Certainly a unique point of view. I found Sith very meh and I don’t think I was out to hate it. I didnt like how they got rid of Dukko. Didnt like how Yoda kind of wimps out in his fights and Padme continues to be the needy waiting woman. Also Anakins transformation didnt feel earned, was too sudden. But the fight does have moments. The CG gets old and I hate the No at the end and some of the elements dont really make sense with the original trilogy. I dont hate it but definitely dont love it like you do. Always fun to hear other opinions

    Like

    • Not that unique – there are a lot of fans of this film. But diversity of opinion regarding works like this are a good thing; world would get pretty dull if everyone loved the same things.
      I will disagree with you on those specific points though; I thought Dooku’s death was superb and a very brave way for Lucas to go with it. Padme, to be fair, was pregnant with twins. Anakin’s transformation was built-up from Episode II and then all through the first half of this movie – so I don’t feel it was sudden.
      But I probably can take your point about Yoda – he probably should’ve won that fight.
      Out of interest, do you rate *any* of the SW films particularly highly?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. smilingldsgirl says:

    Oh I agree. Diversity of opinions is a very good thing. I did a series of reviews of all the Star Wars films with my friends and we did this ranking video you might like

    But basically Empire is the best made, Force Awakens is the most entertaining. I feel like Phantom Menace doesnt need to exist. I hate the midichlorins and JarJar. Attack of Clones was a little better on rewatch because or Dukko and Christopher Lee which is part of reason disappointed me to have him gone so fast in 3 for Grevious who I did not like.
    But Attack of the Clones the romantic dialogue and chemistry I could never handle and I like dopey romances. It almost needed to be more campy and less reverential for me to enjoy it.
    Original trilogy so much fun. Empire to me is just about perfect movie. Force Awakens to me takes New Hope and improves upon it. I love Rey, Finn, BB8 and Kylo as new characters and Han dying what can you say but tears. I see the flaws but I loved it anyway.
    So yes I really love Star wars. Also Star wars Rebels is so good! You excited for Rogue One?

    Like

    • Not very excited for Rogue One, no. But I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of Rebels – though I’m not totally up-to-date with it. And actually I very much prefer Clone Wars.
      It’s funny how we agree on lots of other things/films, but when it comes to SW we definitely differ massively. I actually always thought Jedi was the best OT film. I like the midi-chlorians.
      All of that said, I did reasonably like The Force Awakens. Daisy Ridley was terrific as the new central hero.

      Liked by 1 person

      • smilingldsgirl says:

        Yeah I guess Star Wars has something for everyone! 🙂

        Like

      • smilingldsgirl says:

        I’m very excited for Rogue One. Jedi for me is weak in the first 45 minutes. It almost feels like a monster movie with 2 monsters that are taken on. I got bored. I’m not into the gold bikini or the death of Bobba Fett. But once we get past that it’s terrific and the best space battle in a Star Wars movie. It’s actually a star war! Anyway always fun to read what others like.

        Like

  3. Rick Facer says:

    While I agree ROTS is an awesome film and rates quite highly with me and I agree that finale is brilliant and I have very little criticism of it, it never achieves the epic emotional impact that it could have if in fact the preceding movies weren’t so bloody terrible. The emotional disconnect from anakin to padme ruins it.
    There are only two things that justify phantoms existence, qui gon and maul. Start the trilogy at AOTC, put the budding romance there, so we don’t have to deal with the whole creepy padme and jake Lloyd thing. Padme comes in as a senator, anakins a young padawan, they sort of hit it off in a hit miss way.
    Cut to second film that is the actual meat of the clone wars which is at least half the reason for having the prequels. Kill maul, introduce dooku, grievous. Anakin and padme get put into high pressure situation and they fall in love without all of the anakin sooking and padme so ridiculous hot cold teasing, give us time to connect to the lovebirds and the villains building some emotional connection.
    So as far as I’m concerned the only thing wrong with rots is it ended the stories of people we didn’t care about or have emotional connection to. The dysfunction of having a first movie so out of step and forcing the introduction of new actors and characters so rapidly, meant we didn’t have the time (between movies) to develop a bond to those characters, if we had seen the dooku we saw in tcw in a second movie, or actually gotten to see some of grievous in action and seen some evil or had a continuous run with the main three actors then yes I woul agree that ROTS was the best in this genre. But without those solid foundations it’s emotional arrows never hit as deep as they could have, without the great setup it will always be a bandaid on an otherwise banal series.

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    • You have some really interesting points and ideas there, Rick. I probably don’t disagree with you on some of that. I think probably Lucas should’ve planned out all three films much more meticulously before he committed to the Ep1 storyline that we got. I get the impression he wrote one film at a time instead, which was a mistake.
      I have to say though that I did care about both Anakin and Obi-Wan by the time we got to Ep3. I imagine that in Lucas’s reasoning, people would’ve *already* cared about characters like Kenobi, Yoda, Anakin/Vader, from their preexisting love of the OT. He may have been mistaken about that – but I imagine that was his thinking.
      You do make some very good points, however.

      Like

  4. I’ve been reading much of your Star Wars critiques. Interesting analysis. Always nice to find a fellow prequel fan! I think I might even have enjoyed the PT a bit more than yourself, and conversely, was more disappointed by Episode VII. You can find my Star Wars articles over at my place. Ciao.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am really sorry about the comments section being closed. I’ve been having trouble with trolls posting hateful stuff. But if you want, I can open it for a bit. I always appreciate meaningful and constructive discourse.

    Like

    • No, don’t worry – if you’ve put the shields up to keep out trolls, that’s valid enough. Out of interest, are the trolls basically to do with your views on the prequels?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha, I wish. Surprisingly, I’ve received quite a bit of support on my prequel views. I think the younger generation is more positive of it, overall. The trolls (or it may be just one guy) attacks my writing ambitions, being that I am a struggling author and all. Needless to say, Lucas is a big inspiration. BTW, if you did want to leave any comment (cut and paste) it’s open now. 😉

        Like

      • I just realised, looking at your homepage that you’re a writer. I am too – but I’ve gotten into an almighty mess with a 7-book series that I started ages ago.
        Yeah, I might leave a comment shortly. But you don’t need to keep it open on my account. It will take me a while to read through all your stuff anyways.
        I really agree with your point about the diseases of Lucas-hate, especially on YouTube. I call it the behaviour of spoilt children with First-world problems.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This is probably not the right forum to discuss it, but I am intrigued as to what your “7-book series mess” could be.

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    • No, it’s fine to discuss. It’s a creative mess. I started it about 10 years ago when I was virtually still a kid. Now I’m as far as writing the fifth book, but I’ve realised I’m no longer happy with the first book and lots of key elements of the 2nd and 3rd. Which means a major overhaul has to be done – which means I’ll probably be greyer-haired than George Lucas by the time I’ve finished it all 🙂 The nightmare of trying to be a writer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it’s what I call “the writer’s disease.” Ahem. I had a similar experience after self-publishing a book about 12 years ago, in 2004. I also had to throw out the 100 pages I’d written for the sequel, then proceeded to spend the following 9 years rewriting it. Mastering the literary craft is a long, hard, lonely process, and trolls don’t make it any easier.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Yaw Ofori says:

    I totally agree. ROTS is my favorite SW movie, and the prequel trilogy is my favorite trilogy alongside The dark knight.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Artiom Deyev says:

    I love this movie too! Probably one of my favorite (along with Attack of the Clones). I love how vast and babied the galaxy is shown in prequel trilogy.

    Like

  9. Artiom Deyev says:

    The same to me! I love Revenge of the Sith – the music, how its shot. Such a beautiful movie – my favorite (alongside with Attack of the Clones)!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ryan McMahon says:

    Whoever wrote this is an idiot. ROTS is the best one of the prequels BUT it’s still a plot hole filled piece of crap, just because it’s the better piece of crap doesn’t make it any less crap. The one & only “Great” thing about it is it was the last of the crap. There’s absolutely no way it’s the best movie ever there are many many many movie so much better than this movie & no way it stand up to any of the orig trig or TFA. Whoever wrote this need psychiatric help.

    Like

    • Didn’t say it was the best movie ever – I was referring to movies *of this type and genre*. And Paglia was talking about the last 30 years – not all time.
      I doubt that you honestly consider this film ‘a piece of crap’ – and I suspect you’re just over-indoctrinated by YouTube videos.
      Either way, I’ll take your advice and seek psychiatric help.

      Like

    • Marshall says:

      Hey Ryan, your comment reminds me of a quote:

      “Anyone who sees and paints a sky green and the fields blue ought to be sterilized.” – Adolf Hitler.

      If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

      Like

  11. […] this blog totally agrees with Camille Paglia’s take on […]

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  12. Nariel says:

    “Another group, a smaller minority – myself included – had just seen something of epic, overwhelming proportions and had the greatest cinematic experience of their lives.”

    I was in that group, too. I can’t express myself as eloquently as you do, but I agree with pretty much everything you have said here.Thanks for the great article!

    Like

  13. Actually, ROTS is not my favorite Star Wars film. I tend to rank it below both AOTC and TESB. But I must say that it is one of the most unique films I have ever come across. From the many Star Wars articles and forums I have read, I sometimes got the feeling that many fans had wanted Lucas maintained a black-and-white morality that dominated ANH and was probably less evident in TESB and ROTJ. In the Prequel Trilogy – especially ROTS – the heroes are as much at fault for the downfall of the Republic and Jedi Order as the main villain, Palpatine. Even worse in the eyes of many fans, Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader proved to be a more complicated character than they had assumed. I have noticed from these same articles and forums that a lot of fans may have assumed Anakin would be portrayed as some “bad boy” type that would easily give in to evil . . . and for nefarious reasons. Quite frankly, I’m a little surprised that they would come to this conclusion, considering how Anakin’s story ended in ROTJ.

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    • I think the fact that the heroes are as much at fault, as you point out, is one of the great nuances of the prequel trilogy. And you’re right that it’s a much less black and white morality than in the OT.
      In terms of a lot of people wanting Anakin to have been more of an edgy, ‘bad boy’ type – that would’ve made the story pointless, as the theme was always to depict the process of transition from an innocent, well-meaning character to someone seduced by evil.

      Like

  14. Revenge of the Sith is so much more delightful and dissimilar from standard motion pictures that its unreserved connection to them frequently obscures its own virtuosity. It is so transcendent in its efficiency, with respect to its $113 million budget, that it reaches a pinnacle of economic artistry that may never be equaled, let alone surpassed, again.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. JbScripts says:

    I found this article through the Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society and man, you have hit many nails directly on the head. I started off a little sceptical about your exuberance for ROTS (whilst I still love it, it’s my joint-second favourite alongside ROTJ and behind ESB) but you make all of your points incredibly eloquently.

    Furthermore, as I read on I found myself getting more and more excited about the conclusions you were reaching. Lucas inspired me to study as a filmmaker and I wrote my dissertation on the man, and popular opinion since the Disney deal has absolutely boggled the mind. As I read this two things occurred to me: 1) I’m not crazy and 2) other people out there do get it. Your observation on Williams’ work for The Force Awakens literally had me punching the air; the last six months had me starting to think I’d stumbled into a twilight zone of cultural opinion.

    Is The Force Awakens a bad film? No. It’s competently executed, if storytelling isn’t your thing, and/or if you want a sequel that bears no logical relationship to the previous films. But Star Wars as art is a ship that sailed with Lucas, and this article beautifully illustrates why. Thank you for taking the time and effort.

    Joe

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks JbScripts; it was easy, as I feel very strongly on this subject. You’re actually the sixth or seventh person who’s told me that Lucas was their inspiration for studying filmmaking – which I think says something significant.
      I agree with you on TFA – competently executed, and actually very good in places; but far less unique or creative and much more generic. I think this is the beginning of Star Wars as a more standardised, generic franchise, lacking the visionary spark of its original creator.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. hoops says:

    You’re not fooling yourself with this crapologia so what gives you the idea you’re fooling us? It was bad from start to finish, script to screen, theater to box set. I’m very forgiving of films in general and this film I would set in stone in any definition of the word “flop.” I think you must be fooled by sweeping scores and string crescendo and/or completely vulnerable to any appeal to nostalgia.

    The ridiculous “NOOOO” scene is what inspired this post, isn’t it.

    Like

  17. hoops says:

    Just watch the Mr Plinkett reviews. These movies are embarrassingly sophomoric, full of ludicrous inconsistencies and 1 dimensional personalities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYWAHuFbLoc

    Like

    • I knew you would reference the Plinkett reviews, as this is used by most people as the basis for hating each of the prequel films – as though Plinkett is the absolute measure of whether a film is good or not. Plinkett’s videos are entertaining and interesting; but they’re just his opinion – and actually a very narrow perspective based on his love for 80’s movie formulas.
      I entirely stand by ROTS as a masterwork on various levels – though it is definitely also flawed in places too. There are more great moments, great artistic sequences, great juxtapositions, great marriages of music and visual art, and great conceptions, in this film than in any other single SW movie.

      Like

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