Is Star Wars The Greatest Post Modern Art Film Of All Time?

This is the place where you can vent whatever's on your mind. Feel free to go off on extended rants or brief blurbs about whatever's rocking your world.

Moderators: D. Phillips, Jake

Sugarcubes Forever
GLONO Board Maniac
Posts: 1734
Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2002 8:00 pm

Is Star Wars The Greatest Post Modern Art Film Of All Time?

Postby Sugarcubes Forever » Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:15 am

Aiden Wasley seems to think so.

Star Wars, at its secret, spiky intellectual heart, has more in common with films like Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books or even Matthew Barney's The Cremaster Cycle than with the countless cartoon blockbusters it spawned. Greenaway and Barney take the construction of their own work as a principal artistic subject, and Lucas does, too. "This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level," one of John Ashbery's works begins. Star Wars, we might say, is concerned with plot on a very plain level. Everything about the films, from the opening text crawls to the out-of-order production of the two trilogies, foregrounds the question of plot. As an audience, we grapple with not just the intricate clockwork of a complex and interwoven narrative, but, in postmodern fashion, with the fundamental mechanics of storytelling itself.



I wrote a piece for GloNo on the final installment back when when it premiered in the theaters earlier this year. Now that the DVD is lanuching there's a little bit more buzz about Star Wars. Wasley does a good job, I think, of putting his thumb on what it is about the films that is so applealing to so many people. The usual conversation (or rather arguement) about Lucas's masterwork is that it either suffers or soars due to his cinematic and technical skills. Lucas has long argued that the real appeal of his creation lies in the deep well of Western Philosophical tradition, that he borrowed themes and components from our collective cultural mythology and used them to construct a narrative that appeals at a deep level.

I like Wasley's take on the whole Series of films as "Art House" movie making. I think his explanation works better to explain, in a context slightly different from Lucas's Joseph Campbellesque explanation, how and why the films fit in our modern cultural history.

dharmabum110
GLONO Board Playa
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2005 3:29 am
Contact:

Postby dharmabum110 » Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:39 am

If he haven't done so already, I suggest that everyone read Chuck Klostermann's "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs". It contains a great chapter on "The Empire Strikes Back" entitled something like "Sitting on the Ice Planet Hoth with Lisa Loeb". He says that the movie is a giant metaphor for Gen-Xers.

Barabajagal
GLONO Board Maniac
Posts: 1461
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2003 11:15 am
Location: Not quite close enough to say Chicago

Postby Barabajagal » Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:16 pm

I can buy it. However, if you're talking about the appeal, I think the Lucas/Joseph Campbell thing is stronger than the "relevant to postmodern culture" angle. But Wasley's approach makes a lot of sense--even if its "postmodernism" seems more an "effect" rather than a deliberate avant garde-ness by Lucas.

By the way, anyone seen any of those Cremaster films? I rented the "3rd" and watched the whole thing on fast forward. I don't have time for this shit! Some cool images though.

redfieldp
GLONO Board Pimp
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 1:53 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA
Contact:

Postby redfieldp » Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:35 pm

Barabajagal wrote:
By the way, anyone seen any of those Cremaster films? I rented the "3rd" and watched the whole thing on fast forward. I don't have time for this shit! Some cool images though.


I got to see the whole cycle at the MFA in Boston a few years back - if I recall correctly, the third is definitely the toughest to get through, simply because of length. The other thing I remember thinking was that it's too bad the films weren't all made in digital - Cremaster 1 in particular has aged poorly in the physical sense: the film was clearly wearing, and a new print was definitely in order. I also happened to see the Cremaster exhibit at the Guggenheim in Manhattan, and I think that helped a lot with enjoying the films. It solidified the themes, and exposed you to the actual physical objects that were used in the film. When you realize that everything in the film actually was built (not CGI) I think it adds a lot to the impact of the images on screen.

trainwreck2
GLONO Board Maniac
Posts: 1132
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 12:55 pm
Location: not sweden like some losers here!

Postby trainwreck2 » Wed Nov 02, 2005 1:02 pm

Star Wars was a good movie....thats it
people read way too much into this thing...

Mixmaster Shecky
Honorary GLONO Board OG
Posts: 3118
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2001 8:00 pm
Location: West Michigan

Postby Mixmaster Shecky » Wed Nov 02, 2005 1:36 pm

trainwreck2 wrote:Star Wars was a good movie....thats it
people read way too much into this thing...


Ditto. If you want artsy adventure, see Kurosawa's 'The Hidden Fortress'. Lucas did - it's what he based the original SW on.

miss carol
GLONO Board Maniac
Posts: 4113
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2002 10:39 am
Location: Toronto

Postby miss carol » Wed Nov 02, 2005 1:52 pm

No. It is not. Now got get your Jedi robe outta the dry cleaners, dweeb

russ
GLONO Board Maniac
Posts: 1097
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 10:38 pm
Location: New Joisey

Postby russ » Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:27 pm

trainwreck2 wrote:Star Wars was a good movie....thats it
people read way too much into this thing...


A Great film series the First Trilogy was....a Not-Even-As-Close as great as the Original Trilogy, were the last 3 films.....and I as one who LOVES all things STAR WARS, I have no problem saying that they are just movies....and people do read way too much into them.
Nothing in STAR WARS hadn't been done or said in previous movies, but George Lucas DID have a great vision, and took alot of elements and threw em all together, and it worked perfectly and struck a chord with the world.
The biggest thing that was on his side was timing.
With the way America was, with Vietnam and Watergate still fresh in people minds, and movies like The Towering Inferno, and Posedion Adventure, we needed new heroes and STAR WARS in 1977 was just what the doctor ordred.

LionIndex
GLONO Board Mack Daddy
Posts: 407
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 9:16 pm
Location: San Diego

Postby LionIndex » Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:43 pm

redfieldp wrote:
I got to see the whole cycle at the MFA in Boston a few years back - if I recall correctly, the third is definitely the toughest to get through, simply because of length. The other thing I remember thinking was that it's too bad the films weren't all made in digital - Cremaster 1 in particular has aged poorly in the physical sense: the film was clearly wearing, and a new print was definitely in order. I also happened to see the Cremaster exhibit at the Guggenheim in Manhattan, and I think that helped a lot with enjoying the films. It solidified the themes, and exposed you to the actual physical objects that were used in the film. When you realize that everything in the film actually was built (not CGI) I think it adds a lot to the impact of the images on screen.


As far as I know, the Cremaster 3 that's available on video is actually only a portion of the movie. From what I've heard (I've never tested it), it's just the part filmed inside the Guggenheim, not the whole thing with the Chrysler building and whatever.

Also, the Guggenheim exhibit had a lot of stuff that wasn't in any of the films, but was just related to them. The whole Cremaster 5 apparatus on the top floor, for example. But yeah, that was a totally mindblowing exhibit, mostly because it was really hard to have any idea of what it was all about. Prior to that, a museum exhibit had never made me say "What....the....fuck?!?!?"

For the uninitiated: it's basically all about whether your nuts descend or not. And Mormons. And masonic rituals. And Richard Serra slinging ladlefuls of Vaseline against a wall.

Sugarcubes Forever
GLONO Board Maniac
Posts: 1734
Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2002 8:00 pm

Postby Sugarcubes Forever » Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:55 pm

Barabajagal wrote:I can buy it. However, if you're talking about the appeal, I think the Lucas/Joseph Campbell thing is stronger than the "relevant to postmodern culture" angle. But Wasley's approach makes a lot of sense--even if its "postmodernism" seems more an "effect" rather than a deliberate avant garde-ness by Lucas.


I wasn't totally clear on what I was getting at. I don't kid myself into thinking that the cinamatic look and style of SW somehow owes itself directly to Art House films. What I was trying to get at is the way that Lucas relied so heavily on PLOT. Everything in the film is subserviant to the plot.

That's where all the countless Sci Fi copies and large budget action films fall short in their imitation. Lucas puts his dialogue, visuals, narrative structure...everything....in service of the plot. That is Wasley's big point. I think there's a lot to that.


Return to “Rants and Raves”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest