Thursday, August 03, 2017

If you're a nerd, you'll find these video series fascinating.

From SF Debris:
Hero's Journey and
Shadow's Journey

I've linked to SF Debris videos in the past (example here) but always with caveats.
SF Debris's corny sense of humor is so cringe worthy that it was hard to seriously recommend his videos.
And yet, I still watched them.  They were short, they were punchy, and they catered perfectly to my ruined attention span.  After all, in this day and age of youtube videos, who has the patience to sit through a 50 minute episode of Star Trek anymore?  It was much better to just watch SF Debris's 10 minute summary, even if you did have to put up with his awful jokes.

However, as the above links make clear, once SF Debris drops his corny attempts at humor, and just embraces his role as a nerd documentarian, he really steps into his own.  He's created some fascinating documentaries on his website (and thankfully he seems to be dropping his forced attempts at humor).

Hero's Journey documents the making of the original Star Wars.
Shadow's Journey documents the making of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Both of these documentaries perfectly answer many of the questions that I've been wondering about - on this blog - for the past few years.
Namely, how was it that the same George Lucas was simultaneously so brilliant, and so awful?
If George Lucas was so awful on the prequel trilogy, then how did he create such a masterpiece in the original Star Wars?
And, if saving Star Wars was simply a matter of removing George Lucas, and getting the professionals back on board, then how come no one was able to duplicate the success of the original Star Wars? (You remember during the early 1980s every movie studio was trying to come up with their own version of Star Wars, but nobody could duplicate the success.)

The answer to these questions, it turns out, is long and complicated.  (Like, several hours long if you watch all the videos in SF Debris's series.)
But the short answer appears to be that genius story telling is difficult to duplicate.
It was a minor miracle that Star Wars got made at all.
It was an even greater miracle that The Empire Strikes Back turned out to be as great as it was.  (Watch all the videos for all the behind the scenes documentation.)

It was too much to expect that this kind of lightening-in-a-bottle could be captured 3 times.

People like to complain that there are only really 2 good Star Wars in the whole series.  But perhaps this is viewing the glass as half empty.
Instead, we should be amazed that George Lucas and his team managed to pull off not one, but 2 brilliant movies.
The fact that they ran out of steam eventually was perhaps inevitable.

Perhaps the problem is with us, the entitled fan, and the entitlement fan culture.  We expect that everything we get served has to be absolutely brilliant.  But the truth is that pure genius story telling only strikes rarely.  We got two absolutely brilliant movies, we should be content with that.

If Disney keeps churning out more and more Star Wars movies, the law of averages dictates that eventually they'll probably stumble upon genius again.  But in between the genius movies, there are going to be a lot of mediocre movies.  And we fans need to just accept that.  We can't have every movie be genius.


Whisky Prajer said...

Well, I shall join you in beating one or two dead horses here -- and odds are pretty good I'll watch at least the second video in this series. I read The Making of Star Wars some years back (I was wracked with pneumonia, so my commentary was less than illuminating) and was impressed with just how gargantuan the odds were against Star Wars being anything but a quickly-forgotten cinema footnote (akin, perhaps, to Jodorowsky's Dune -- except that he took the impetus of Lucas' success and ran with it, until he couldn't). The book is HUGE and probably supplies the bulk of the material for your video commentator.

I think I've said it before, but without Ralph McQuarrie SW would never have been anything but unintelligible scribbling in a forgotten red notebook. Studio powers looked at McQuarrie's work and wanted to see what that might translate to on the big screen, and Lucas had the zeal to pull together the team to do it (though he had no idea just how difficult that would be, I think he was akin in spirit to Walt Disney in that he forgot about the difficulty (and expense) when he got his hands deep into the machinery of making the illusion).

I'm also of the school that thinks Lucas' vision is most seamlessly achieved in the various TV spin-offs we've enjoyed over the last two decades. The Clone Wars and now SW: Rebels are punchy, episodic serials that truly fulfill the vision Lucas initially had, much better than Lucas was ever able to. They're written for younger audiences, but as Lucas never tires of pointing out, so was Star Wars. And they work, although not on the silver screen scale that Lucas initially managed. And that's not a bad thing, I'd say. If the movies ever marry the nuance of the TV shows to the spectacle of the silver screen, we might all be surprised. But I'm not holding my breath.

Joel Swagman said...

I suspect that the first video is probably based largely off of The Making of Star Wars. (And even if it's not, it's at least a sure bet they contain the same information.)

As you point out, we have indeed been over this ground before. But oh well. (Truth is, I've only got so many subjects in me, so I keep returning to the same points over and over again on this blog).

Just saw this video the other day arguing that SW Rebels isn't a worthy successor to Clone Wars?

Your thoughts?

Whisky Prajer said...

I'm not going to take him on point-by-point, but I will agree Clone Wars is the better series and that much of why we watch Rebels is to catch up where we can with characters in the CW timeline. But kvetching about Stormtrooper ineptitude? Man, that horse left the barn so long ago the barn is gone and the horse is dead of old age. If tonal inconsistencies are any sort of impediment to enjoyment there's very little to be said for watching anything Star Wars related.

Joel Swagman said...

I've been enjoying Star Wars Rebels myself.

Although after watching that Youtube video, they talked me into believing that maybe actually Star Wars Rebels was pretty awful.

Although after reading your comments, I'm back to your side again.

I suppose I'm easily persuaded.

But yeah, agreed. It's pointless to complain about Stormtrooper ineptitude. The whole reason Stormtroopers exist is to be inept.

And tonal inconsistencies are also pointless to complain about.