Star Wars: still amazing, always will be.

29Apr10

I finally bought the DVD set of the original trilogy, and I watched Star Wars (A New Hope) for the first time in what feels like 5 years at least.

I was in heaven. And I don’t think it has as much to do with nostalgia as I first thought. No, it’s because Star Wars is simply one of the most imaginative movies ever made. And that will never get old and never seem dated.

Think about it: literally everything in that film — from the spaceships, to the costumes, to the weird languages, the weapons, the aliens, the set design, the robots, even the names and sound effects — everything, down to the smallest details — looks, sounds, and feels like nothing else you’ve ever experienced. We take those famous elements for granted now, but before Star Wars, there simply was nothing remotely like it.

Compare that to, say, Avatar — the current so-called “triumph of the imagination” — where pretty much everything does look like something you’ve seen before, just in a different color and in 3D. Amazing as some parts of Avatar were, it’s still a rather pathetic match-up.

Even really kick-ass sci-fi movies like The Matrix and District 9 — which are plenty imaginative — still don’t hold a candle to the sheer immersive “otherness” of Star Wars. Dune is the only other movie I can think of that comes close, but it also sucked.

Not to get all pretentious, but Werner Herzog once said that “we are surrounded by images that are worn out, and I believe that unless we discover new images, we will die.” The irony is that 30+ years and a boatload of crappy merchandising and sequels later, you could argue that Star Wars’ images are pretty worn out themselves. But watching the original film, and getting caught up in its magic, makes me wonder when a filmmaker will show us something truly new again.



5 Responses to “Star Wars: still amazing, always will be.”

  1. Agreed – the movie holds up really well.

    Another irony in the worn-out images department is that Star Wars, as I recall, lifts a handful of images/shots from Herzog’s “Aguirre: The Wrath of God,” especially the Leia/hologram/you’re my only hope scene and one or two others. It only makes sense to borrow from the great ones!

  2. 2 Me

    Wait, what? Explain.

  3. Well, it’s been a good few years since I last saw Aguirre (it was at Cornell Cinema, in fact, towards the end of senior year), but I distinctly recall picking out a handful of scenes that I recognized from Star Wars in Aguirre, which came out about 5 years earlier.

    The one that I remember the best is the Leia one I referenced. As I recall, it’s a scene in Aguirre that takes place on a beach, and the shot of someone bending over a smaller someone and having a pleading conversation is almost an exact template for that Leia shot. (Memory is a tricky thing, of course, so I could be off a bit, but it’s a strong memory.)

    Aguirre is on Netflix WI. I’ll see if I can dig up the relevant screencap.

  4. Oh wait, dammit. Aguirre is not on WI anymore. Used to be, but it’s out of my queue. Sorry.

  5. Speaking of things that are worn-out, Werner Herzog needs to stop cribbing from Thus Spake Zarathustra.



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