The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
When Return of the Jedi flickered out with Darth Vader’s funeral pyre in 1983, I don’t recall thinking, I wonder what Darth was like as a boy? Who was Luke and Leia’s mom? Could there be a character more annoying than the Ewoks? Or C-3PO?
We wanted to move forward, to see what was next for Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia.
Of course, there have been books and other media that have done that. But when George Lucas decided to add to the Star Wars feature film canon, he decided to go a longer time ago to tell the origin stories that were alluded to in the original trilogy, an idea that was ultimately better in concept than execution. While I think Revenge of the Sith (2005) was a solid entry with a heckuva final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan, The Phantom Menace (1999) gets more annoying every time you watch it and Attack of the Clones (2002) is just certifiably awful — any film that makes Natalie Portman that bad has deep, deep problems.
The most recent trilogy left a lot of fans very wary of any more movies, lest the franchise be defiled any more.
But the new hope with the announcement of Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the planned new trilogy of Star Wars movies is that Lucas will not be directly involved and the story will finally be moved forward on the big screen.
With all due respect to the franchise’s creator, Lucas had really become more of a film technician and toy salesman by the time he took the helm of the prequels. It was nice in this week’s announcement to see he has the self-awareness to know that it is time to hand off the series. And we are moving ahead with the story of characters we have loved for decades instead of meeting new ones it was hard to warm up to.
At this point, there is a lot of room for speculation about characters, casting, and all that good stuff. While Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy books have long been seen as the Star Wars sequels, there are reports that Lucasfilm sources say the new stories will be entirely original, not based on anything seen before. If that’s the case, who knows what forms these stories make take, if they will even involve the characters we know, and if they do, if any of the original cast will come back to play space cowboys again.
It is all speculative at the moment with secrets known only to those in the know deep within Disney and Lucasfilm. But at least we know come 2015, we’re moving forward.
Jul24Filed under: books, Film; Tagged as: Chris Columbus, George Lucas, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars vs. Harry Potter, The Empire Strikes Back
In the decades after 1977, popular culture was constantly searching for the next Star Wars. What could capture the public’s collective imagination as completely as George Lucas’ space Western about people and robots trying to defeat a Nazi-like Empire?
It had characters, it had mythology, gadgets and deeper levels that the devotees gleefully explored in the ensuing years.
In the past decade, pop culture found that next Star Wars in Harry Potter.
In fact, it found something better: As a film franchise, Harry Potter exceeds Star Wars.
Star Wars set the table for Harry Potter to become the phenomenon that it is — and for many other franchises and attempted franchises — from both a marketing and a cinematic technology standpoint. But as a series of movies, Harry Potter was much more coherent and consistent than Stars Wars, and it deserves its place atop the heap of film franchises.
It pains me to say that, because I was 10 in 1977 – don’t do the math – and I completely bought into the Star Wars hype — literally. I still have the action figures and other stuff to prove it. I credit the original movie with sparking my interest in film and subsequently many other aspects of art and culture that brought me to this job. When I am totally honest, I still have to say my favorite movie is the first one, Star Wars — OK, Episode IV: A New Hope, grrr.
In that last phrase lies the frustration with Star Wars.
May23Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Film, Lexington Philharmonic, Music, Opera, radio, Uncategorized; Tagged as: Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring, Dawn Upshaw, George Lucas, Joe Tackett, John Williams, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Lexington Philharmonic, Maurice Ravel, Michael Carter, Morning Classics, Samuel Barber, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, WEKU
During the chat, part of a WEKU/Joseph-Beth Gives Back event at the book store, Carter had played several musical selections like one of Maurice Ravel’s Slavonic Dances.
“Every time Michael played a piece, kids would come over and stand,” Tackett said. “Some of them even started to dance. Kids innately recognize great art.” Then, noting some adults he saw rush their kids along, he added, “It the parents that try to tear them away from it.”
Did we mention Joe is the Phil’s education director, too?
Certainly there were some serious blocks of time in the afternoon event devoted to adults talking about music. I discovered both Joe and I share the same roots in our love for classical music. John Williams’ music caught Joe’s ear when his father took him to see The Empire Strikes Back (1980). So, when I sat down to chat with WEKU station manager Roger Duvall, I had to share my similar experience when my parents gave me the soundtrack to Star Wars (1977).
Classical music probably owes a lot to George Lucas commissioning those iconic scores.
Roger called our conversation Dancing about Architecture, a reference to the oft quoted but hard to attribute aphorism that writing and talking about music is sort of like dancing about architecture. And indeed, while we did have a good conversation about this highly transitory time in Lexington music, from my seat, the most fun was trading short passages of favorite works with Roger. He kicked it off with a segment of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and I got to answer with Dawn Upshaw singing the opening passage of Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 – if there’s a more perfect representation of a Southern summer evening, I am not aware of it.
Michael and Joe also had a great chat, zeroing in on the idea that enjoying classical music is not so much something you learn as it is something that comes naturally.
And the best demonstration of that came in those children who wandered over from the kids book section to hear, and later in ones who were brave enough to step up and try their hand at marimba with musical guests Julie Schindall and Ian Meiman.
We came in to talk about the future of classical music. But in their faces, we got to see it.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich