Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Anthony Lane Reviews Revenge of the Sith

to anthony PORNSTORM responds:

Your criticism of the script of Revenge of the Sith is good, if an easy thing to do. I think the whole theater laughed at the screen at the points you mention. When you come to criticizing the architecture, however, I'm not sure I follow. "Alien" and "Blade Runner" do more than you have room to say. They suggest that our world on its current path leads to a world that's not only more rusted and septic but feels like it can never be fixed. In those movies, visions of heroism are small, fleeting, and far from the task of changing the tide of human society. The highest moments there, darkly, are brief where your head is above water in a life otherwise made entirely of drowning.

Star Wars on the other hand suggests that there is a founding human principle which can transform vast swaths of civilization into something peaceful and meaningful. It is perhaps the death of this particular dream that weighs so heavily on our society today. I may be reading too far into what you say. But you seem to prefer a movie that sticks closer to "existence" one filled with "clutter, quirkiness, intimacy, irony, and threatened order". Certainly Han Solo brings that kind of reality to his episodes of Star Wars: he kicks his bucket of bolts to make it fly. he makes his way through a chaos of individuals each with his own ends. But a movie made entirely of these elements fails as badly as one with none of them. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" depicts a mind-doctor and desperate lonely individuals turning to him for a fix. And we can all see that going to such a doctor will heal nothing. But when you have a broken leg you do not want to go to a hospital filled with "tricky little threats to order", you would like a hospital that has well documented these threats and dealt with them well over years of experience. you would like a hospital that strives to solve basic issues.

We've all seen pi in the sky designs for large-scale order come up against an even bigger reality thousands of times-- in a New York City Starbuck's washroom, in a scuffed and crooked Wachovia ATM room, in the space shuttle explosions, in the failures of the university, in once grand arteries now choked with traffic. But when the poets celebrate the triumphs of clutter over order of rust over steel, are they not celebrating with awe the gumption of those who tried? they are, i think, celebrating those who dare to trump reality and existence with their dreams. The face of the statue half-buried in the sand is a sign of the large extent to which existence had to go to stymie the dream. I'm not saying Lucas is such a dreamer, but he tries to celebrate them in the Jedi.

I agree that the film in question has gone astray, that Lucas can no longer find solid words to put in yoda's mouth and make him come alive. But to criticize filmic architecture in which the floors of the capital are polished for lack of character goes too far. It takes dedicated, robotic, perhaps loving hands to keep a floor like that. In "Blade Runner" nobody cares anymore because the planet is on the far side of some nuclear winter. In "Revenge of The Sith", at least if we grant what it's trying to do, the clarity and rationality of the republic is giving way to the martial, imposed order of an empire. The existence of this kind of transition was not lost on the audience i was with.

Perhaps this is what you mean when you insist on the word vulgar twice in three lines, although i can't work it out exactly. I imagine you mean the 1950s style levitating convertibles and the quick succession of too briefly and flatly constructed planetary ecologies that come only vaguely connected to any other part of the movie. Or are you talking about Lucas-world in a more general sense? And what's with your George Bush style bravado? "... a brood of yodettes, are you saying you'd leave them behind at the first sniff of danger?" I don't think "Yoda" is saying that. Again if you haven't given up the thread of the morality tale, the Jedi are charged with the guarding the republic. If you can't see past your personal causes and those of your family (or there's nothing to see beyond those concerns) then you don't really belong in a job like that. Also, if you follow the admittedly hard-to-hold plot of the movie, you see it is his fear of loss itself which kills her, not some do-nothing attitude (not) suggested by yoda. You're right the film didn't make yoda's suggestion feel as deep as it turned out to be in terms of the plot.

No comments: