Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
Posted 21 December 2009 - 10:51 PM
For myself, watching Episode 1 always leads me into a hypnotic stupor that accepts whatever visual razzle-dazzle that's thrown my way, accepting it carte blanche because, well, it's another world. I love it when a crazy YouTuber can thrust this back into reality.
Posted 22 December 2009 - 12:25 AM
Posted 22 December 2009 - 03:13 AM
Posted 07 May 2010 - 01:16 PM
inspired by this?
Of course, there is a connection between the Star Wars universe and Bakshi's Wizards.
It's the smile that gives it away!
Edited by Baal_T'shuvah, 07 May 2010 - 01:22 PM.
Posted 12 May 2010 - 04:25 PM
The big question about the Star War series, and The Phantom Menace in particular, isn’t how much you like it but whether you love it. The issue is above all generational, and only secondarily a matter of aesthetic or ideological choices.
If you’re male and were born around 1989, the chances of you loving The Phantom Menace seem fairly high. If you’re male or female and were born around 1967, the chances of you loving it are probably almost as high. For better and for worse, seeing The Phantom Menace is like revisiting your youth, the time when you first saw Star Wars or either of its sequels. And if you’re female and born at some other time, chances are you’ll be asked to sit back, admire Natalie Portman’s painted lower lip, and go with the flow. To refuse such an invitation is to run the risk of being considered historically challenged – especially given that the American media are making the movie out to be at least as important as NATO’s war against Yugoslavia. . . .
Maybe I’m being perverse, but what I like about The Phantom Menace is its awkward sincerity and unabashed pomposity, the way Lucas has finally been engulfed by the charming awfulness of his Saturday-matinee models. Some of this is clearly deliberate: as a title, The Phantom Menace sounds exactly like a chapter heading some Republic serial, and all the old-fashioned wipes between sequences come straight out of that tradition. Some of it is merely unfortunate: it seems likely that Lucas got so hung up on his digital effects, which apparently fill about 95 percent of the screen, that he left his actors stranded –- effectively eliminating most forms of nondigital effort in the process, including his own. Reportedly he even used digital techniques to tweak the performances, matching a facial expression from one take with a gesture from another; the result of this high-tech ingenuity is that all of his human actors are turned into blocks of wood — the same sort of thing that cramped budgets and lousy dialogue did in low-budget programmers of a half century ago.
It reminds me of a gourmet cook friend of mine who one evening expended as much energy reproducing McDonald’s cheeseburgers, fries, and chocolate shakes as she previously devoted to producing veal calvados. Since the beginning of the Star Wars cycle, Lucas seems to have made it part of his postmodernist project to vaporize existential identity as well as the history and geography that helped form it. What he hasn’t done before is prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that all the digital magic in the cosmos is less helpful than a set of crayons -– at least if you’re naïve enough to expect technology to take the place of imagination.
What Lucas has instead of creative vision is a ravenous memory -– he’s as ready to pillage the globe and history as his hero Indiana Jones -– and a talent for mixing and matching his plunder in a way that his digital effects can neither improve nor dignify. What emerges is triple-distilled grade-Z formula. In other words, he’s a hack, and to some extent he seems to know it. He even has the honesty to acknowledge that his amassed treasures are as old as the hills; one of the endearing charms of his neomedieval weaponry is how literally soiled and shopworn most of it is, and the best thing about Anakin’s race in his homemade “Podracer” — the closest thing in the movie to a set piece -– is that it evokes Ron Howard’s speeding in Eat My Dust (1976).
Posted 28 September 2010 - 09:58 PM
Posted 29 September 2010 - 08:31 AM
Posted 20 November 2010 - 07:21 PM
Posted 21 November 2010 - 02:00 AM
Posted 26 November 2010 - 01:06 AM
: Here's a must-read film analysis of the "Duel of the Fates" (warning, extremely long).
Very interesting. E.g.:
Cutting to a medium shot, Darth Maul is shown igniting his double-bladed lightsaber, a classic addition to the series’ villains which serves to deepen the film’s ties to world-religious iconography as a dark Christological figure. Evoking the cross image of the crucifixion, Maul’s saber deepens the Biblical associations of his entire ensemble. Many commentators called his appearance devilish, yet each one of his Satanically inspired features also creates an allusion to Christ—the crown of horns on Maul’s head, just one letter away from being a crown of thorns; the red-and-black tattoos on his face, recalling the red-and-black opening title sequence of Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ.
That film famously portrayed Jesus as a troubled young man led astray from his destined path by the lure of romantic love, the same temptation that ultimately undoes Anakin Skywalker. TPM spends a lot of time turning him into a Christ-like prophesized savior himself, introducing the controversial Force-associated plot device of midichlorians mostly to add a scientific root to the revelation of Anakin’s virgin birth, and indulging in a prolonged pod-race sequence on Tatooine (the film’s other centerpiece action-sequence) which consciously evokes Ben Hur. The references embedded in Maul’s design help serve to offer a dark echo of the light Christ-themes of young Skywalker’s circumstances, offering a crystal-clear projection of the dark figure his savior-complex will take him in his evolution into the twisted Darth Vader.
Oh, and let's not forget, one of the cast members in The Last Temptation of Christ was Irvin Kershner -- the director of The Empire Strikes Back. (He plays Zebedee, father of James and John and the man who wants to stone Mary Magdalene to death.)
Posted 26 November 2010 - 09:03 AM
: Here's a must-read film analysis of the "Duel of the Fates" (warning, extremely long).
I visit Wonders in the Dark quite regularly, they have some terrific essays and "Top 100 lists" (Peter, you might want to check out the current Top 100 Animated Films series they have going on at the moment). I read this essay back when it first appeared. Bob Clark (the essayist) is one of the biggest supporters of the Star Wars prequels, and the overall saga. It's always fun to read his other review/essays, and see how he will work in a Star Wars comparison. Such as his most recent article, a revisit of the original Miracle on 34th Street...
...That’s more or less what makes the central conflict of the film, from a child’s perspective. Yes, there’s the legalese passion play that Gwenn suffers through as his identity (and sanity) are put to the test by the court, overseen by Judge Gene Lockheart ( I can only imagine how terrified children of the 40′s might’ve been if they’d seen his quisling collaborator in Fritz Lang’s Hangmen Also Die). But really, it’s just an externalization of the more intimate, and far more serious dilemma of Natalie Wood, the little girl who can’t quite make up her mind whether or not Gwenn is just a nice old man with whiskers, or something more. With his clipped, authoritative and pleasing voice, it’s easy to see him inhabiting the same kind of classic old-mentor role as an Obi-Wan or Gandalf– another wise, wizardly figure with a twinkle in his eye and a student to teach. When he performs small wonders throughout the film– like letting his beard get tugged on, recommending a Macy’s patron to Gimbel’s for a toy, or singing a song in a song in Dutch for a little orphan (one wonders whether her parents might’ve raised her to spin a dreidel, had it not been for the war)– there’s a magic similar to the kind seen when Alec Guinness played a Jedi mind-trick, or when Ian McKellan charmed hobbitlings with fireworks. Like any saint, the movie gives him three miracles to perform for his canonization, and even makes him, before legal and mental health authorities, something of a martyr....
Posted 29 March 2011 - 10:01 PM
Perhaps it's unfair to judge based on how much of a rush job was required for the 3D conversion of Clash of the Titans, but it was revealed today that the same company - Prime Focus - is who George Lucas has opted to handle the 3D conversion of The Phantom Menace.
Posted 30 March 2011 - 03:43 AM
Posted 30 March 2011 - 08:39 PM
To me at least, one of the things lacking in the prequels, especially in The Phantom Menace, is the fact that the "good guys" (The Old Republic) are still in charge. Yes, the Trade Federation has their battleships encircled around Naboo but it's not as if they control the galaxy. One planet might fall, but the rest of the galaxy would move on. In the OT, the Empire had complete dominance of the galaxy and so there is more of an underdog mentality to the Rebel Alliance than to those hoping to liberate Naboo from the Trade Federation.
I was always disappointed Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith didn't have as much merchandise. I liked collecting the Star Wars micro machines. And no more Star Wars pop cans!
Posted 30 March 2011 - 11:11 PM
You know, for all the grousing about Star Wars merchandising, I agree; I still remember the action figures that came with little chips that played lines from the movie. Everything looked fresh and cool and seemed to promise an amazing experience. The later prequels never really reached that; even the "making of" scrapbooks were disappointing.
I actually think Ep I stands up better as the years go by; certainly compared to AotC (which I have sentimental reasons for loving, but which is still bad, bad, bad) and RotS (the first and last twenty minutes are the best Star Wars movie ever, but the middle commits the greatest sin imaginable--that of being boring). It's still not great, and I can't imagine wanting to see it again in the theater. It's easy to see how the Podrace would look great in 3D, but I'm not that desperate for 3D Jar Jar.
Edited by NBooth, 30 March 2011 - 11:12 PM.
Posted 31 March 2011 - 12:34 AM
:I was in grade 3 when The Phantom Menace came out.
:I was always disappointed Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith didn't have as much merchandise.
I liked collecting the Star Wars micro machines. And no more Star Wars pop cans!
Gosh reading that makes me feel old.
For what it's worth my old spaceships and action figures from the original Star Wars movie are still sitting in
my parents attic.
As a boy that film had such an impact on me that it's one of the reasons I became so interested in films and storytelling.
Posted 31 March 2011 - 09:26 AM
Posted 31 March 2011 - 09:41 AM
My cousins had some old Star Wars action figures that I