Sunday, May 08, 2005

# Posted 1:20 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHEN NO NEWS ISN'T GOOD NEWS: This week, Darth Vader was on the cover of Time Magazine. Graphically, it's an extremely clever piece of work. The cover has a simple head shot of Vader, as if he were an actual world leader who was on the cover of Time because of some important thing he did recently.

Journalistically, the cover package is trash -- trash that will probably give Time's circulation figures a considerable boost. I guess the magazine has a right to make money and increase its readership. But even the story about Episode III is little more than a puff piece.

Star Wars is such a pervasive cultural phenomenon across the globe that it wouldn't be hard to come up with some very interesting stories about its social significance. Instead, we get a dull movie review spiced up with some quotes from the cast and a crew.

There is also an interview with George Lucas in which Lucas gets thrown more softballs than John Kerry did when he was on The Daily Show. Yeah, yeah, I know Lucas isn't a politician. But after fans around the world spent hundreds of millions of dollars on tickets to see Episodes I & II, Time should at least put this simple question to Lucas: "How come the first two prequels sucked so bad?"

Alternately, "Do you even understand how bad Episodes I & II sucked?"

Or, "Do you live in some sort of fantasy land where no one tells you what they actually think?" Damn it, why can't Sy Hersh infiltrate the Skywalker Ranch and let us know about the real Dark Side?

Anyhow, there is one illuminating quote in the Lucas interview. In response to the question of why he took sixteen years off between Return of the Jedi and Phantom Menace, Lucas says:
Star Wars was written very carefully around the limits of technology. I had one big technological leap that I had to make, and that was to be able to pan the spaceships. I thought I knew enough about animation that I could make that happen. Everything else was written for what I knew I could get away with, given the fact that I had a limited budget, limited resources...

But then Jurassic Park inspired me. I didn't have to use rubber masks. I could build digital characters that can act and perform and walk around and interact with actors. I can use digital sets. I can paint reality.
In other words, one the computers started doing the work, Lucas stopped trying. On a similar note, according to the WaPo,
Lucas confesses that the early "Star Wars" movies (released in 1977, 1980, 1983) were "painful experiences" because "what I wanted to do, I couldn't do." He means with the existing computer graphics and special-effects technology.
I try not to think of myself as a sadist, but thank God for Lucas' pain. Maybe it is true that all great art is the byproduct of suffering.
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