Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Alec Guiness in a Dressing Gown.

This was going to be a post about humanity reaching the 7 billion mark but after reading through what I had written I have decided that you must never see this.

If you did then you would see me as a soulless, black-hearted monster who has lost touch with humanity.

It would damage this fragile, beautiful thing that has grown between us irrepairably and I can't stand the thought of losing you.

So I have chosen to lock that post away in the darkest recesses of my laptop and instead repost one of the very first things I put on my blog, back in the days when I had absolutely no followers.

And let's never speak of this matter again.

When I was ten years old my parents told me they had seen a trailer for a new film that ws coming out soon. 'It looks amazing', my dad said, 'there are dogfights in space'.

A childhood spent readng World War Two based comics like Warlord and Battle and watching any war film that I could on telly had me imaginging Spitfires and Messerschmits flying through space.

This was the first time I heard about Star Wars and I was hooked.

When it finally reached cinemas in the UK my mum and dad made an occasion of going to see it and we went to the Bradford Odeon, back then an impressive structure, these days it is closed down like many city centre cinemas and has trees growing out of its roof.

In the seventies the main feature was always preceded by a support feature, in ths case a 30 minute film about a knight rescuing a lass in a white dress. It was called The Black Angel and starred the bloke who played Dick Barton, Special Agent on the telly.

After this the cinema went dark and silent, then suddenly a spotlight shone on a glitterball rotating on the ceiling, filling the auditorium with rectangles of light. The deep, mahogany voice of James Earl Jones boomed out of the speakers' May the Force be With You'.

The film started and I spent two delirious hours looking at something I had never seen before and thought it was the best film ever.

Jump forward 20 years and I am in the cinema with my girlfriend watching the digitally remastered version of Star Wars, with new added lizards and shiny bits.

About half way through the film I realised I was mentally compiling the weekly shopping list and not even watching. We left before the end.

Now I know I can never relive the experience I felt as a child and that Star Wars was genuinely groundbreaking in terms of special effects for its time. George Lucas said about the film that he wanted to recreate the Saturday morning kids cartoons to the big screen and he succeeded in doing so on a grand scale.

Unfortunately this meant the same level of story and character depth so that once the inital wow factor of space ships the size of planets has worn off there isn't much left to engage the viewer.

Lucas creates a universe where the main characters all turn out to be related like a bunch of space rednecks and the storylines hinge on coincedences so massive as to make the Death Star look like a golf ball.

He also tries to inject humour into his films by way of comic relief characters, the robots and Jar Jar Binks in StarWars films and the Brownies in Willow.

His idea of humour is to have these charcaters bicker with each other and occasionally fall over, then sit up looking dazed with something stuck on their head at a comedy angle.

They speak mangled English in amusing foreign accents or in the case of See Threepio are so camp they make Kenneth Willams sound like Nosher Powell.

None of these characters bring anything to the films and are blatantly plastered on to make the kiddywinks point and laugh at the funny sounding robot/frog thing.

Darth Vader was recently voted as greatest cinema villain of all time in some film magazine poll but in all honesty he just doesn't seem particularly villainous. Apart from looking fairly cool he just stomps into the room, wheezing like an asthmatic playing football and making mild threats. He does at one point stab Alec Guiness's dressing gown so I suppose he could get done for criminal damage but it's hardly the stuff of nightmares.

Getting annoyed about Star Wars is about as pointless as sitting here writing about it. It is a billion dollar industry that will steam roller on and people will continue to treat it like a religion. Millions of people go to see the new films despite the fact that many of them seem to come away disappointed. People seemed to be going just to see if they would improve which is a waste of time and money.

One last thing. The same year Revenge of the Sith came out another science fiction film was released called Serenity. This was a spin off from a failed TV series called Firefly which was cancelled in its first season due to poor ratings. However DVD sales of the series were strong enough for the studios to take a gamble and the writer of the show directed the film, bringing back the cast members.

It came out in the same summer as Revenge of the Sith and failed at the box office.

I had never seen the series but saw the film. Here was a strong story with characters that interacted well and you could care about. There was genuine humour as well as decent special effects and among the cast were the always watchable Chiwetel Ejiofor and Adam Baldwin. I enjoyed it enough to watch the series and found that I wanted to see more of these characters.

Unfortunately that is unlikely to happen as no-one went to see it, instead they went to see Lucas's latest eye candy knowing that the would probably be disappointed but trudging along anyway as though it was inevitable. No doubt they were brow beaten into it by their kids who have been laser targetted by the marketing people through massive hype and merchandsing.

Maybe Star Wars is all we deserve.

No comments: