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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?

I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.

Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.

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"The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson


"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin


"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton


"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan


"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -- and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken


"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt


"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley


"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss


"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire, the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind; and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon


"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon


"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon


"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and they love to chatter instead of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
-- Socrates


"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook


"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook


"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr


"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion


"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson


"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices, intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation; a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition -- to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand


"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri


"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams


"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France


"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke


"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology; it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant


"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville


"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis


"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis


"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis


"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon, but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant


"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand


"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal


"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.


"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible, and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus


"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814


"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated. This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944


"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News


"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas


"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
-- Cicero


"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." -- François, duc de La Rochefoucauld


"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." -- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson


"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example." -- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic


"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower


"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance." --
H. W. Fowler


"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place." -- Kate Wilhelm


"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein


"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms


"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho


"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).


"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."
-- Lecture IX, John Henry Cardinal Newman


“Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.”
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman


"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
-- James Madison


"Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others."
-- Napolean I of France -- Napoleon I of France


"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.


"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.


"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128


"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)


"American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States, (1920)


"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days


"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs


"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign


"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden


"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
-- Batman



 

 
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit. He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.

The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

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And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world


[Blogroll now far below the sea line! Dive, dive, dive!]


You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Gary Farber! Jeez, the guy is practically a blogging legend, and I'm always surprised at the breadth of what he writes about.
-- PZ Meyers, Pharyngula


...Darn: I saw that Gary had commented on this thread, and thought: oh. my. god. Perfect storm. Unstoppable cannonball, immovable object. -- Hilzoy

...I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. -- P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula

...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow

‎"Gary Farber is a gentleman, a scholar and one of the gems of the blogosphere." -- Steve Hynd, Newshoggers.com

"Well argued, Gary. I hadn't seen anything that went into as much detail as I found in your blog." -- Gareth Porter

Gary Farber is your one-man internet as always, with posts on every article there is.
-- Fafnir

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.
Just saying.

-- Hilzoy

Gary Farber gets it right....
-- James Joyner, Outside The Beltway

Once again, an amazing and illuminating post.
-- Michael Bérubé, Crooked Timber

I read Amygdala...with regularity, as do all sensible websurfers.
-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
-- Avedon Carol, The Sideshow

Amygdala - So much stuff it reminds Unqualified Offerings that UO sometimes thinks of Gary Farber as "the liberal Instapundit."
-- Jim Henley

...the thoughtful and highly intelligent Gary Farber... My first reaction was that I definitely need to appease Gary Farber of Amygdala, one of the geniuses of our age.
-- Brad deLong

Gary is a perceptive, intelligent, nice guy. Some of the stuff he comes up with is insightful, witty, and stimulating. And sometimes he manages to make me groan.
-- Charlie Stross

Gary Farber is a straight shooter.
-- John Cole, Balloon Juice

I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber


Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
-- Ogged

I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow

One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
-- oakhaus.com

One of my favorites....
-- Matt Welch

Favorite....
-- Virginia Postrel

Amygdala continues to have smart commentary on an incredible diversity of interesting links....
-- Judith Weiss

Amygdala has more interesting obscure links to more fascinating stuff that any other blog I read.
-- Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk

Gary's stuff is always good.
-- Meryl Yourish

...the level-headed Amygdala blog....
-- Geitner Simmons

The only trouble with reading Amygdala is that it makes me feel like such a slacker. That Man Farber's a linking, posting, commenting machine, I tell you!
-- John Robinson, Sore Eyes

...the all-knowing Gary Farber....
-- Edward Winkleman, Obsidian Wings

Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged

We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog


Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog


GARY FARBER IS MY AROUSAL CENTER. -- Justin Slotman

Gary is certainly a non-idiotarian 'liberal'...
-- Perry deHaviland

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

Gary Farber's great Amygdala blog.
-- Dr. Frank

Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott

Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit

My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal

If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.

Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks

I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes

Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this?
-- Natalie Solent

You nailed it... nice job."
-- James Lileks

Gary Farber is a principled liberal....
-- Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit


Archives:
December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 December 2011 January 2013


Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
AlterNet
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
bjkeefe
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Chuckling
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
elementropy
Eschaton
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
Hullabaloo
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
Afro-Netizen
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Attackerman
Attempts
Balkinization
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Cato-at-liberty
Cogitamus
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Eschaton
Ezra Klein
Feministe
Glenn Greenwald
Governing.com: 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Hullabaloo
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Mightygodking
Newshoggers
Orcinus
Pam's House Blend
Pandagon
Paul Krugman
Pharyngula
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Shakesville
slacktivist
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
TAPPED
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
TPMCafe
U.S. Intellectual History
Unfogged
Unqualified Offerings
VetVoice
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
Pandagon
Pharyngula
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Snarkmarket
TAPped
TBogg
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alicublog
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fact-esque
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
jensscholz.com
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
sideshow
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
balkinization
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
Fact-esque
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
governmentality
hullabaloo
Lifehacker
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Macadamia
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Epicycle
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Demosthenes
Rittenhouse Review
Maxspeak
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
MadKane
Nathan Newman
Whiskeyfire
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Corrente
Rising Hegemon
NTodd
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Hullabaloo
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Frameshop
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People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.










Amygdala
 
Saturday, May 21, 2005
 
THE INEVITABLE SITH POST-MORTEM. Yeah, no funny header; I'm a little burned out on everyone else's, for the moment.

But I did finally splurge my $6.50 for a matinee yesterday (which I couldn't afford, but never mind for now).

My favorite scenes in Star Wars are the silent ones. (Unsurprisingly, given Lucas' strength in visuals, and weakness in dialogue.) In A New Hope, the classic where Luke walks up out of the moisture farm, and stares at the twin setting moons as the music swells. In Revenge Of The Sith, it was the silent scene cutting back and forth between Anakin and Padme staring out, separately, across the capital of Coruscant, he at the Jedi Temple, she at her pad, thinking Tragic Thoughts of each other.

So here's the script, which I gave in to the Dark Side and read some weeks ago, which I inevitably then somewhat regretted.

First I have to say a word or two about the larger site. Obviously, the guy who does it is a major bullshit artist; the overall site, which I've linked to before, is a strange melanage of accurate rumors and facts on SW, mixed with tons of obvious lies in which the writer claims to be George Lucas's best friend, writes stuff in Lucas's voice explaining how important the writer is to Lucas and the films, and all sorts of other ludicrous, obviously made-up, crap. So pay no attention to that stuff. However, he obviously has had LucasFilm sources, since a fair amount of his material is accurate, mixed in with all the bullshit, lies, and hoaxes. I think I pretty well learned how to sort out which was which rather immediately, a couple of years ago.

So, what's interesting here is, of course, all the stuff that fell out of this script onto the cutting room floor. I knew that would happen, but the details are always interesting (if you're a Star Wars kook, that is; otherwise, not so much).

One thing that's clear from many of the idiotic reviews and commentaries that have appeared is that loads of so-called Star Wars fans have absolutely no clue about the SW universe, and no knowledge of any of it whatever save the films. Although I've read maybe three SW books out of the huge number, and only glance at an SW website every few months, that alone (plus playing quite a few of the games), plus seeing about five of the Clone Wars cartoons has been enough to inform me, or anyone, of plenty of general background, which would prevent one from writing the sort of idiotic stuff that, say, those two guys in Slate posted, or that Anthony Lane wrote in The New Yorker.

In the end, it's both a strength and a weakness of Revenge of the Sith that there is so much background and history, since on the plus side, it informs viewing of the film if you have a clue, since every face and reference on-screen has considerable background (much more of which will continue to be filled in in the future), but on the negative side, if you only bother to see the films, you're left with an awful lot of important stuff that is only glancingly referred to, or missing entirely. Generally speaking, what happened in those long years of the Clone Wars is something you can't get from Revenge of the Sith alone, and as a result, some viewers are inevitably left scratching their heads.

Probably the chief element that illustrates this is General Grievious, who is all over the superb Clone Wars animated series' 25 chapters, and which are pretty much must viewing to understand what's happened (I greatly look forward to seeing the rest eventually). His character is given essentially no background whatever in ROTS alone, and his role is so cut down that he becomes a cardboard figure wheeled onstage to be menacing, and then is fairly rapidly cut down by Obi-Wan, and out of the story. Which is too bad, because he's a nice nasty presence when you see more of him.

Moreover, although it's an utterly understandable decision, given that the film clocks in at 140 minutes, and there are, what, five major saber battles, and Grievous is already a figure that, well, the audience who just-knows-the-films isn't given any reason to particularly care about, his second, definitive, battle with Obi-wan is on and over so quickly that Grievous seems no major threat at all. One second he's waving four light sabers (and if you blink, you may not realize he killed four Jedi to get them), and a few seconds later, he's down one, two, all light sabers, and then, whoosh, he's dead. It's all so fast, there's no particular impact, and that's a shame, given his established-outside-the-films menace and history.

Generally, of course, what's fallen out on the cutting room floor is stuff felt to be redundant, but in many cases, even though I don't disagree the film would have run too long, what winds up missing would have given further background, and there are a few neat bits I'm sorry were dropped.

Then there's just an occasional amusing line, such as this:
OBI-WAN: Break right and go high.

ANAKIN: I'm going low and left.

Obi-Wan shakes his head.

OBI-WAN: (to himself) He still has much to learn.
Some is just trivia. We've never seen R2 communicate this way:
ARTOO SQUEALS in a panic. On the view screen Artoo's squeal reads out, "WE'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT."

ANAKIN: Wrong thought, Artoo.
The whole sequence of the exploding fuel on the ship at the beginning was dropped:
The TWO JEDI cut their way down several floors into a large generator room. Huge EXPLOSIONS outside the ship have caused several large pipes overhead to break, and fluid is spewing everywhere. The Jedi get up and turn off their light sabers. ANAKIN dips his hand into the fluid and sniffs it.

OBI-WAN: . . . fuel. The slightest charge from our sabers will send this ship into oblivion. That's why they've stopped shooting.

ANAKIN: Well then, we're safe for the time being.

OBI-WAN: Your idea of safe is not the same as mine.
There's more on that; I have no intention of quoting all the missing bits in this post; if you're interested enough, read it yourself. But here's another moment I missed:
OBI-WAN jumps back, then stands amazed.

OBI-WAN: All right, you win. I have much to learn. Let's go!
Another dropped set of lines:
OBI-WAN: Wait a minute, how'd this happen! We're smarter than this.

ANAKIN: Apparently not, Master. This is the oldest trap in the book . . . Well ... I was distracted.

OBI-WAN: Oh, so all of a sudden it's my fault.

ANAKIN: You're the Master. I'm just a hero.

OBI-WAN: I'm open to suggestions here.

PALPATINE: Why don't we let them take us to General Grievous. Perhaps with Count Dooku's demise, we can negotiate our release.

The Jedi look at each other in disbelief.
I must say I'm still quite unclear what Palpatine's goal was in (I assume) arranging his kidnapping. (ADDENDUM: Having thought about it a bit more, I recall the context, which is that the film states that Anakin and Obi-Wan have just returned for the first time from five months on the Outer Rim. So my suspicion is that the Jedi Council brought them back specifically to rescue the Chancellor, and to have that done -- so Sidious could be close to Anakin again -- was Palpatine's motivation; that seems to me to be a fine and sufficient explanation. END ADDENDUM.)

The most important dropped elements may be poor Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa, as well as Mon Mothma (remember, the political leader of the Rebellion in Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi?), who, although she appears in the credits, I never spotted on-screen, although I may have blinked and missed it. I'll get to more on this shortly, particularly the crucial scenes of Organa, Padme, Mon Mothma, and a couple of other Senators secretly plotting to resist the Chancellor (while he's still Chancellor).

Over the course of the film, Padme's pregnancy seems to grow from early (it's established as five months above, but not in the actual film) to Great With Child in no time at all, and how it is no one notices in the later stages seems somewhat inexplicable. There are dropped early lines further establishing Anakin's jealousy:
PADME begins to cry.

PADME: You've been gone five months . . . it's been very hard for me. I've never felt so alone. There's . . .

ANAKIN: . . . Is there someone else?

PADME: (peeved, angry) No! Why do you think that? Your jealousy upsets me so much, Anakin. I do nothing to betray you, yet you still don't trust me. Nothing has changed.

ANAKIN: (sheepish) I'm afraid of losing you, Padme . . . that's all.

PADME: I will never stop loving you, Anakin. My only fear is losing you.

ANAKIN: It's just that I've never seen you like this . . .
Of course, if you go back to Attack of the Clones, his attitude towards Padme from the beginning is deeply creepy. She tells him she's uncomfortable with the way he looks at her, and he's clearly been obsessed since childhood. How Jedi do or do not obtain sexual release -- is that an "attachment" they strive to put aside, laying aside the question of the many races involved? -- I have no idea (celibacy? Jedi porn?; probably not Jedi hookers; group Jedi-only orgies?), but for Anakin, we pretty well know who he's had in mind throughout adolescence.

The three films, among other things, tell the story of a deeply unhealthy relationship with Anakin and Padme; the terrible end it comes to is subtly foreshadowed in at least Attack of The Clones, though more debatably in Phantom Menace.

Here's the scene I think the film perhaps may most miss:
81 INT. CORUSCANT-BAIL ORGANA'S OFFICE-DAY

PADME, BAIL ORGANA, and SENATORS MON MOTHMA, FANG ZAR, TERR TANEEL, and GIDDEAN DANU sit in Senator Organa 's office.

BAIL ORGANA: Now that he has control of the Jedi Council, the Chancellor has appointed Governors to oversee all star systems in the Republic.

FANG ZAR: When did this happen?

BAIL ORGANA: The decree was posted this morning.

PADME: Do you think he will dismantle the Senate?

MON MOTHMA: Why bother? As a practical matter, the Senate no longer exists.

GIDDEAN DANU: The constitution is in shreds. Amendment after amendment . . . executive directives, sometimes a dozen in one day.

BAIL ORGANA: We can't let a thousand years of democracy disappear without a fight.

EVERYONE looks at each other, a little worried at the implications of what was just said.

TERR TANEEL: What are you suggesting?

BAIL ORGANA: I apologize. I didn't mean to sound like a Separatist.

MON MOTHMA: We are not Separatists trying to leave the Republic. We are loyalists, trying to preserve democracy in the Republic.

BAIL ORGANA: It has become increasingly clear to many of us that the Chancellor has become an enemy of democracy.

PADME: I can't believe it has come to this! Chancellor Palpatine is one of my oldest advisors. He served as my Ambassador when I was Queen.

GlDDEAN DANU: Senator, I fear you underestimate the amount of corruption that has taken hold in the Senate.

MON MOTHMA: The Chancellor has played the Senators well. They know where the power lies, and they will do whatever it takes to share in it. Palpatine has become a dictator and we have helped him to do it.

BAIL ORGANA: We can't sit around debating any longer, we have decided to do what we can to stop it. Senator Mon Mothma and I are putting together an organization . . .

PADME: Say no more. Senator Organa. I understand. At this point, it's better to leave some things unsaid.

BAIL ORGANA: Yes. I agree and we must not discuss this with anyone, without everyone in this group agreeing.

MON MOTHMA: That means those closest to you . . . even family ... no one can be told.

They ALL nod their heads. PADME considers this for a moment.

PADME: Agreed.
Without this, there's no sense of the incipient potential Rebellion, or the political tensions Palpatine is bringing to a head, and far less sense of the coming-to-a-head political differences between Padme and Anakin. That's too bad. Again, it's understandable given the time constraints, and that it lifts out whole, but it's a loss, I think.

Rather than make this an infinitely huge post, I'll continue in the next post (above this one -- there are four altogether, although I have later posts with some other SW items).

Incidentally, please note that I do not claim to be, and have never claimed to be, any kind of Star Wars expert; a zillion fans know more about it than I do; I'm just a guy who likes the movies and wrote these posts.

Subsequent posts in this series are here, here, and here.

5/21/2005 07:10:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 53 comments

53 Comments:

We've never seen R2 communicate this way:
ARTOO SQUEALS in a panic. On the view screen Artoo's squeal reads out, "WE'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT."

ANAKIN: Wrong thought, Artoo.


Yes we have, at least twice. In Episode I, when Anakin is flying the Naboo fighter, Artoo communicates via a viewscreen; in fact, the production design and SFX team took the time to make the display, in the "Aurabesh" alphabet of the SW universe, read things like , "Anakin, you turn this ship around right now and go back!"

And again, en route to Dagobah in Empire, Artoo communicates with Luke via a viewscreen in his X-Wing.

By Anonymous Phil, at Saturday, May 21, 2005 11:41:00 AM  

Yes, I'm sorry, Phil, I wasn't at all clear there. I meant "in English," which may actually be the only time I recall seeing printed English in any of the films, though I could be completely forgetting some example. But my understanding was that no one used English, under the ongoing convention, and that they either used the galactic basic language, instead (which we, of course, hear as English, or whatever the language the film is locally dubbed in), or a local language, as is so often seen.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Saturday, May 21, 2005 12:29:00 PM  

The controls for the tractor beam that Obi-Wan turns-off in Star Wars were originally in English, but were changed to Aurabesh on the DVD's.

By Anonymous Paul, at Saturday, May 21, 2005 8:34:00 PM  

doesn't Leia tell Luke what their Mom looked like? If so... how?

By Anonymous Jeff, at Sunday, May 22, 2005 6:11:00 AM  

loads of so-called Star Wars fans have absolutely no clue about the SW universe,...general background, which would prevent one from writing the sort of idiotic stuff that, say, those two guys in Slate posted, or that Anthony Lane wrote in The New Yorker.

I feel quite angered by the sentiment you seem to be expressing here. Are you suggesting that people have to do homework before they are entitled to express an opinion on a Star Wars movie? Since when did it become a private club? Lucas may have the opportunity, through the capital he has built up from his revenues from merchandising and ILM to make movies which are deficient in sense without reading the spinoffs, but certainly nobody else has that opportunity and the critical canon should in no way feel itself required to consider modifying itself for him.

Back in 1977, there were very few science fiction films made. SF was largely considered 'not filmable', in part for the commercial reasons that the effects required were seen to be a big driver of cost and the audience for the stories sf wanted to tell hadn't been discovered. I'm sure you remember. If Episode 4 achieved anything it was to show that audiences could indeed conjure meaning out of the air sufficient to carry a plot in an unfamiliar setting, just as readers of a book can, and that they rather liked doing it. I didn't care that Obi-wan and Luke's father had fought in the Clone Wars, except that it meant they were once comrades and had some connection; similarly I don't care who General Grievous is, except that he is clearly a dupe of Palpatine's who now has almost no "human"ity left. He is a colorful figure in a film full of colorful details.

Regardless of what Lucas might say, I regard the films as canon and anything else as spinoff. It is Lucas' damn job to get them right, and I think he has goofed, not in the romance department that everyone likes to complain about, but in the maintaining of an ensemble story with a large cast of characters. You are right that there should be more of Smits' character and of the Alderaanians (I don't think I even worked out who they were or what they looked like, so for me they will all get blown up the next time I see Episode 4 still completely anonymously). It is a bit disappointing that instead of giving the players in the drama something to do, we spend too much time having to watch R2D2 show off some irrelevant new superpower. And does Obi-wan have to do everything? The Jedi-whose-names-we-don't-know remained exactly that. This is the failure of RotS, that Lucas doesn't seem able to select down to the stories that matter. Don't you dare encourage him, or his successors in sf film-making, to think that this is acceptable so long as overlooked and missing material can be made up for in the spinoffs. That's just another way of saying that sf is unfilmable after all.

But thanks for summarising the spinoffery. You seem to have done a good job, I found it interesting and I dread having to read it myself.

By Anonymous Phil Palmer, at Monday, May 23, 2005 1:32:00 AM  

The lava fight scene between Darth Vader and Obi-wan makes me think they owe Monty Python royalties for lifting the Black Knight scene from The Holy Grail.

By Blogger madawaskan, at Monday, May 23, 2005 8:37:00 PM  

I agree with Phil. The movies should stand on their own. People have been writing self contained stories since the beginning of history, think Iliad. It's sad that Lucas is so talentless that he can't tell a coherent story without the audience having a prerequisite knowledge of a dozen books and a half dozen games.

By Blogger Collin, at Monday, May 23, 2005 8:55:00 PM  

A lot of the objections they made, esp. the Slate guys, were still dumb, even if you just paid attention.

By Blogger David N. Scott, at Monday, May 23, 2005 9:00:00 PM  

"I feel quite angered by the sentiment you seem to be expressing here. Are you suggesting that people have to do homework before they are entitled to express an opinion on a Star Wars movie?"

No, I wasn't intending to imply that, but I can see that I came much to close to saying that, so insofar as I did, I regret that and withdraw any such suggestion. I've merely been excessively irritated at what I regard as immensely careless and indifferent criticisms. It's not as if many criticisms aren't on target, which I won't reiterate here, save to particularly acknowledge Lucas's awful style of dialogue in these films (many say it's a deliberate part of the "homage to the serials" that is the core of the whole thing, but if so, I think that's a ridiculous choice, but frankly, I have real trouble believing that it's the case). But a lot of people seem to take it for granted that the films are so wholly, unredeemedly, awful, and that no one above the age of 11 could possibly like anything about them, that they feel it's fair game to say more or less anything on the subject, and, as I said, I wind up excessively annoyed at that. That lead me to a bit of a rhetorical over-reaction, I agree, Phil.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Monday, May 23, 2005 9:51:00 PM  

Yeah, my major problem with the film was how rushed it was. It really should have been 3 hours long to have build ups and quality scenes all around.

Lord of the Rings already proved people are willing, and able, to sit through long movies. With an established series as star wars, and the devotion of fans, I think a better movie, that is longer, would go further.

By Blogger Infinity8Ball, at Monday, May 23, 2005 9:58:00 PM  

I agree with many of the fine comments. Having said that, and just to pick a nit, I'm amazed that anybody could use the term "science fiction" in connection with the Star Wars movies. There isn't a drop of real science in them (starting with the fact that there is no sound in outer space, least of all ships making 1940s air-propellor-plane noises as they cruise hyperspace). The SW movies are Fantasy, folks. That's the genre. Fantasy or maybe Western. We can't do Westerns anymore, nor Samurai movies; they no longer capture people's imaginations. But move the Western / Samurai / Pirate / Fantasy movie into outer space with a lot of crappy pseudo technology whose rules were arbitrarily dictated to restore swordplay, airplanes and pistol fights to the story, and you've got a movie. :-)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, May 23, 2005 10:17:00 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, May 23, 2005 10:19:00 PM  

Lucas never stops changing his SW films. maybe we will see a "director's cut" improved by some restored scenes

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, May 23, 2005 10:23:00 PM  

Star Wars has never been "science fiction." It's science fantasy, a la Leigh Brackett, or space opera. I've always said this; I didn't feel a need to repeat it for the millionth time here.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Monday, May 23, 2005 10:30:00 PM  

I wish Lucas hadn't cut Bai Ling's scene--the poor girl gets a "STAR WARS BABE--NUDE!" Playboy cover and George cut her out (along with his daughter's appearance, apparently.) That has to be embarassing.

You're right about that Senate scene, Gary. What I don't get is leaving all this stuff for the last movie, when there was so much wasted time in the first two prequels where an effective portrait of the decline of the Republic could have been done. Instead we got Gungans and pod races and endless droid battles. And the Fett overkill.

My least favorite part of Sith was the inexplicable turn of the clones, on one order from the Emperor. (What were the clones? Droids with genomes?) My second least favorite part was the complete absence of diagnostic ultrasounds in the Star Wars universe.

By Blogger Justin, at Monday, May 23, 2005 10:40:00 PM  

In addition to the excellent Clone Wars cartoons (esp. the second season which was a whole movie by itself), it's a REALLY good idea to read the book "Labyrinth of Evil" before seeing Sith. Between that and clone wars you get pretty much all the backstory you need - it explains why they were going back to rescue the chancellor and goes into a bit more depth about the role Sideous plays in that.

To the person who is aghast at the suggestion they need to do homework to watch a movie and offer a review - I say, what is wrong with that? What's wrong with a movie that has other components to make it whole? I have to say that after reading the other reviews he mentioned, and having a decent understanding of the backstory, that the other reviewers pretty much sound uniformed and therefore kind of crazy. Sure you can have an opinion without studying anything else, but be prepared for a whole lot of snickering from the better informed. When you are reviewing a movie based on a book would you not also take into account what the books and other books around it had said? Would you not expect equal ridicule for raising the most basic of questions that are readily answered by the source material? Anything that encourages people to read more is a good thing in my book and some reliance on other material to fill in gaps in a movie that is already very long I think is to be commended as not just cutting parts that might have otherwise required too much explanation. And for most people that have never encountered any of the other things the movie still seems to stand up well.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, May 23, 2005 11:17:00 PM  

doesn't Leia tell Luke what their Mom looked like? If so... how?

Yes... according to RotJ, Padme survived childbirth and lived long enough for Leia to have memories of her (at a minimum, she would have had to have been 1-2 years old when her mother died).

That wasn't the only contradiction between Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi. In RotJ, Ben Kenobi clearly tells Luke that Anakin Skywalker was unaware of his wife's pregnancy, and that Palpatine didn't know about it either. Sorry, but Kenobi would have had to have been a complete retard if he thought Anakin didn't notice Padme's swollen belly at their final meeting.

These were blatant errors on GL's part. At a bare minimum, I expected this movie to be consistent with what the audience was told in the last trilogy, and he couldn't even manage that... had to go for the lame "woman dies in childbirth" clique instead. Really disgraceful.

By Anonymous TrollSlayer, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 2:06:00 AM  

I get it. It is like a cult.

Being an early member gets you some honor but if you haven't kept up with the latest catchetism - woe unto you.

By Blogger M. Simon, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 4:40:00 AM  

If you have to be a geek to "get" a movie made for the public, then it's a bad movie.

By Blogger JZ, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 4:48:00 AM  

Infinity8Ball: "Lord of the Rings already proved people are willing, and able, to sit through long movies."

Many other, even longer films, daia that before. What they realy proved, though, was that people are willing to sit through a long good movie. If I had been forced to endure another 30 min of the sort of tripe served in PM or AotC I'd have rather shot myself.

By Blogger submandave, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 5:54:00 AM  

Here is a contridiction that bothered me, yoda says goodbye to chewbaca on the wookie planet (I am not going to bother to look up how one spells that), but in New Hope, Chewie and Han are laughing at Luke as he is practicing with the remote like it is the most ridiculous thing ever for the force to even exist. In general that bothered me how after less then 20 years of the Jedi being powerful and well known, everyone seems to have forgotten about the force all together by the time New Hope happens.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 6:25:00 AM  

...'I don't disagree the film would have run too long'..

Your generation has lost out on the most fun in moviegoing..the double feature.You have never experienced the pure satisfaction of being entertained or amused for a full afternoon. How sad that the patients has gone out of your generation. Granted the first flick was mostly a dud and the cartoons in-between were simple..but the experience spoke volumes for a lost generation.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 6:41:00 AM  

The reason Palpitine was captured was to draw Annikan back to rescue him? Excuse me, why do they bother to have a council filled with Jedi if they can't get a single one up there to rescue the chancellor. If the Jedi were intending to Palpitine be killed that might have been an important factor in Annikans turn, and the movie might have taken a second to mention it.

Oh, and near the end of the movie you've got two jedi left and one Sith (I assume they thought Anny was dead). Why go into hiding instead of going after the Emperor? How hard would it have been to get Padme and others to declare an emergency meeting in the Senate to draw the Emperor out where they could gang up on him.

Intead the Jedi just give up? The Jedi seem to be lazy quiters but I guess this fits with Yoda in the first trilogy who seemed unwilling to do much without prodding.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 7:21:00 AM  

The Illiad was not self contained. It was immersed in Greek culture. The Greek listeners knew who the Gods were and who the heroes were. There were lots of side stories about all of them. This is the difficulty Lucas faced, telling an epic story without cultural referents.

Yours,
Wince

By Blogger Wince and Nod, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 7:25:00 AM  

Thanks to all for all the comments so far.

I'd like to direct everyone's attention to the request in the left sidebar that people please not post comments anonymously? I can't tell, for instance, if anon comments are from different people or not, and that kinda bugs me. Thanks for choosing a handle in future, please.

Is SW a bit culty? Sure, which is quite an accomplishment for some mass phenomenon. Which doesn't mean those who hate them and think the films are horrible aren't entitled. Liking or disliking is subjective, of course, and everyone has a right to their reaction and opinion.

Yes, perhaps there's a contradiction in Chewie's attitude between trilogies, although it's hard to tell; it's Han who's the obviously dismissive one, and it's not unbelievable to me that as a skeptical guy, he's skeptical about Jedi. As for the change in public attitude about Jedi, we have to take into account that we're generalizing from this one guy, and from the guy on the Death Star talking about the "ancient supersitition," and we should keep in mind that obviously the Emperor has had a twenty-year Hitler/Goebbels/Soviet/Mao-like propaganda system going on, indoctrinating everyone, particularly his military, about the phoniness of the Jedi. Combined with the fact that there was always vastly more planetary systems in the Republic than Jedi -- the Jedi were apparently down to under 20, total, after the slaughter in AOTC -- I have no problem believing that an awful lot of folks by the era of SW only know negative propaganda about Jedi. The Rebels, on the other hand, know better. Presumably many other Imperial citizens also taught their kids the truth.

About "my generation," I'm 46, and I adore 4 hour movies. Lawrence of Arabia is a fave. So are the DVD LOTR movies. When I said "too long," I merely meant for today's blockbuster commercial market, not for the taste of those like me and you who like good long films.

"Excuse me, why do they bother to have a council filled with Jedi if they can't get a single one up there to rescue the chancellor."

As I noted, apparently under 20 Jedi left, spread across the huge Galaxy, fighting the Clone War. Presumably not more than 2-3 or some handful are left at the Temple, co-ordinating, since any other change would be a waste of needed Jedi at a battlefront. Or so I'm guessing; I could be wrong. And clearly Obi-Wan and Anakin (now a full Knight for some time) are among the top rank. So I don't find it implausible they'd be the two picked to come back. Your Mileage May Vary, and that's fine.

"Why go into hiding instead of going after the Emperor?"

Because even Yoda and Obi-wan together couldn't defeat the entire Imperial Army. Remember Qui-Gonn in TPM: "we're peacekeepers; we can't fight a war for you." And in the latest film, they're Generals, not warriers single-handedly taking on armies alone. Powerful they are, but not that powerful.

Sure, we can argue they should have tried infiltration, but either one assumes they had good reason for taking the long-term plan, or not.

I do agree that the decision to not train Luke seems questionable, at the least, and needs more explanation, although I can imagine answers to the effect that early training would have made for traces in the Force leading the Emperor to them prematurely; I assume Lucas's defense would be along those lines. Again, buy it or not. I'm agreeing it needs explanation.

Thanks again to everyone for your thoughts! (Feel free to come back in the future!)

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 8:31:00 AM  

I'm a little suprised (and disappointed) that no one seems to be commenting on the fact that this shouldn't really be the last episode.

When Star Wars first came out there was a lot of talk about why it was called episode IV. It was said to be the first episode of the middle trilogy of THREE trilogies - in other words, there would be a total of NINE episodes. Revenge of the Sith just finishes the First Trilogy. The Second trilogy is also finished - what about the THIRD trilogy. Are those plans now scrapped?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 8:51:00 AM  

The Jedi did not "just give up" - they had sent several Jedi out after Grevious once they figured out he was trying to kidnap Palpatine (who was down on the planet kidnapping palpatine before the movie). Pretty much all of them were killed or disabled. In the book Mace Windu fights Grevious but Grevious gets away, also a bit before he finally makes off with Palpatine. In the Clone Wars second seasn you get to see the whole running battle as the Jedi struggle to protect Palpatine and in the end fail.

Do not forget that Palpatine wants Grevious to kidnap him anyway, and might have been doing subtle things to help Grevious. As far as I could tell from the readings while Dooku know that Palpatine was Sideous, Grevious did not which led to some amusing comments from Palpatine as Grevious was abducting him.

Also in the book it has a logical progression for why Anakin and Obi-Wan would be the ones coming back to save him, because Anakin is close to Palpatine and they get word he's in trouble so they decide to head back. That is just after a large confrontation with Dooku which was seemingly to divert thier attention from the abduction.

I was the one who wrote the previous comment about the book "Labyrinth of Evil", sorry for posting AC but I was in a hurry and didn't realize there was this easy option to provide ID without registering.

By Anonymous Kendall Gelner, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 8:52:00 AM  

"When Star Wars first came out there was a lot of talk about why it was called episode IV."

Actually not, because it wasn't called "Episode IV: A New Hope" until it was re-issued many years later.

Moreover, in fact, Lucas never originally thought there'd be more than one film, which is why he blew up the Death Star. He's repeatedly said that if he'd known he'd have a whole trilogy, he'd have saved it for the last film. As it is, he wound up repeating himself and blowing up two Death Stars, which is the weakest aspect, in my view, of the entire trilogy, and of ROTJ (along, of course, with the Ewoks, who were revised from Lucas's vague earlier intention to have a battle of Wookies, who he then realized he'd shown as too technological (via Chewie as a starship pilot) to be the primitives he'd intended to be the point of the battle. This is lame, but in fairness, he never thought the whole thing would get remotely the attention it did.

As for the 9 films, he claims that he's never intended a last trilogy. Whether he'll revisit that eventually, I have no idea, and possibly neither does he. If so, it certainly won't be anytime soon. But there will be the two tv shows, the live action (we'll see if that works), and the animated, both led by others; I'm hopeful about the animated in particular, based on the fine record of the few Clone Wars episodes I've seen. The live action? Could be great, could be greatly sucking. We'll see.

Thanks for the ID, Kendall.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 9:47:00 AM  

Don't forget, Han's attitude may be colored by the fact that the Jedi were shot in the back by people with blasters. Not a real advertisement for effective power.

By Blogger Crank, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 9:50:00 AM  

Justin: "I wish Lucas hadn't cut Bai Ling's scene--the poor girl gets a "STAR WARS BABE--NUDE!" Playboy cover and George cut her out..."

It especially makes no sense, given Ewan McGregor's fully nude performance in "Pillow Book." Either Lucas is a goddamn hypocrite/male chauvinist, or the explanation is bogus.

Since I'm responding to on comment made by Justin, I'll answer another. The "Order 66" plot twist was not inexplicable. It was established implicitly in Ep. 2 that the clones were created by subterfuge, undoubtedly by the Phantom Menace himself. Why? So he could use them later to purge the Jedi.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 10:16:00 AM  

two things:

If GL had planned a trilogy in '77 - he would have included Yoda, one of his most important characters.


Second:

Why did the Senate give the chancellor all those powers after the war?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 10:51:00 AM  

Obi-Wan LIES THROUGH HIS TEETH! He lied to Luke through three movies.He lies to everyone else through the other three! Remember his back tracking in ROTJ? He lied to Luke to get him to do what he wanted. Obi-Wan was a HORRIBLE Jedi. HE is the one who loses the Republic. He is the one who turns Vader loose on an unsuspecting Universe.
I agree that the time line is rushed. I thought so back when TPM came out. The Empire should have been well established by then. Even in ANH when Vader is talking to Tarkin and Tarkin's off hand dismissal of the Force and Jedi just does not ring true now. There had not been enough time for it all to come down to :"Ancient weapons and hokie religions.."
but... that's just me :^)

By Blogger Paul A. Gaddis, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 11:46:00 AM  

Anon 11:16:23--

I take Lucas at his word that he cut her scene because he didn't like it in there, and not because of the Playboy thing, given all the rest of the stuff he cut and the fact that the Bai Ling scene was his daughter's scene as well.

And about the clones--I just don't like the way it happened. There was buildup in Clones, true, but as you say, it's completely implicit. And what is a clone? Less than human, more than droid? They can fight with Jedi for years and turn on them on a moment's notice? I don't get it.

By Blogger Justin, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 12:03:00 PM  

"They can fight with Jedi for years and turn on them on a moment's notice? I don't get it."

Don't forget, Justin, the Kaminoans specifically told Obi-Wan in TPM that the clones had been genetically altered to be "docile." (And so Jango asked for an "unaltered" clone.) Since it's all science fantasy, anyway, any quibbles about what can and can't be really done by genetic reprograming has to go into the same file as complaints about the physics of the spaceships, which is to say, yeah, it's not realistic. This shouldn't come as a shock. No, it's not science fiction, it's space opera. Science fiction is down the hall.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 12:10:00 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger KeithM, Indy, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 1:19:00 PM  

Some thoughts on answers...

How did Leia know what their mom looked like?

Pictures, her adoptive parents telling her...

Like all good stormtroopers, Clones follow orders obediently, and I assume the Chancellor would have been given supreme authority over all Clones.

Chewie laughing during Lukes training.

Perhaps Chewie was laughing at Han for Hans dismissive attitude. Chuckling to himself because he knows the truth and can't get Han to believe him...

All in all, the movie was as I expected it to be. Excellent on visuals and action, a generous so/so on character dialog and storyline.

The fact that Yoda was the only Jedi who sensed the danger behind his back seems to discredit the Jedis abilities to sense the Force. Obi-Wan didn't know anything was wrong till the Clones shot at him and missed.

Surely, the Clones would be a part of the Force, and so should be detectable. I would also think the deaths of other Jedi would cause sensable distrurbances in the Force for the other Jedi.

By Blogger KeithM, Indy, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 1:23:00 PM  

"Pictures, her adoptive parents telling her..."

But she said she remembered her mother, not pictures and tales. Granted, people speak imprecisely and memories are recreated, not preserved in amber, and are highly imperfect and often wrong. This is still a point we appear to need to stretch a bit to explain, though.

"Perhaps Chewie was laughing at Han for Hans dismissive attitude. Chuckling to himself because he knows the truth and can't get Han to believe him..."

This is exactly what I've thought; we've assumed Chewie was roaring in agreement with Han, but unless we speak Wookie, we can't know.

"The fact that Yoda was the only Jedi who sensed the danger behind his back seems to discredit the Jedis abilities to sense the Force. Obi-Wan didn't know anything was wrong till the Clones shot at him and missed.

Surely, the Clones would be a part of the Force, and so should be detectable. I would also think the deaths of other Jedi would cause sensable distrurbances in the Force for the other Jedi."

The Dark Side Clouds Everything, young padawan. And Jedi aren't mindreaders. And Jedi are quite killable, as we've seen, particularly in the last two pictures. They're trained, but hardly perfect, as is drilled into us if we pay attention to this trilogy. We'd like to think better of them, and it's painful to watch them die, so we'd like to think it couldn't/shouldn't happen, but it's a touch of realism, after all, of the sort usually complained that isn't in the films.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 1:39:00 PM  

Re: Palpatine's goal in arranging his kidnapping.

To me, his motives were twofold. One, to eliminate Count Dooku from the scene just as he eliminated many former allies to consolidate power. Two, and most importantly, to have Anikin do the deed, thus further corrupting him on his path to the dark side. This echoes the showdown sequence in Return of the Jedi when the emperor encourages Luke to kill Vader - which also took place on a battleship during a major space battle - only Luke makes a different choice than his father did. This is *the* critical moment when the Sith Lord realizes the son will not follow the sins of the father.

That RotS scene is an absolutely critical - dare I say, obvious - plot element to the arc of the story.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 9:16:00 PM  

Good points, whoever you are.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 9:41:00 PM  

Here is my pet theory about Star Wars that I've held for many years. George Lucas has been attempting to conceal the fact that Star Wars is a shameless rip-off of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and, to a lesser extent, Kurasawa's The Hidden Fortress for years. The fact that he's done this right under everyone's nose even as the Lord of the Rings has been made for the big screen is quite remarkable.

Before you dismiss the Lord of the Rings/Star Wars connections, consider the following:

An orphaned hero inherits a great power. He yearns to see the outside world, but also has strong ties to his home. A wise, mentor-wizard looks over him and encourages him to embark on a heroic quest. Although reluctant, the hero ultimately agrees to go when he sees that trouble has come to his very home. An early outing in the outside world takes him to a bar that is strange but exciting. He encounters a roguish character there who seems seedy at first, but ultimately becomes his greatest ally. The hero and wizard each wield glowing swords and they fight many foes including a tentacled beast who pulls the hero under water. Always, though, the real battle is an internal struggle; the mindless forces of the enemy are easily dispatched. Ultimately, in the conclusion of the first episode the Wizard is struck down by a great foe. This
shatters the hero, but he resolves to continue to fight. Fortunately for the hero, the fallen wizard will come back "stronger than you can possibly imagine."

In the second episode, the hero separates himself from his allies and friends and embarks on a personal quest taking a single, most-trusted, uncomplicated ally. On this quest, he encounters a dimunutive creature who will teach him about this power that he possesses. The friends of the hero, meanwhile, will fight against the outgrowth of the central evil, and their suffering is great.

In the final episode, the hero makes his way into the very heart of the enemy's stronghold. Meanwhile, his allies are engaged in a pitched, hopeless, final battle with the forces of the enemy. The hero, at the critical moment, is ultimately too weak to prevail. However, a formerly corrupted character whose life the hero previously spared, makes a surprising end-game move which saves the hero and the quest.

Unquestionably, Lucas patterned Star Wars after Tolkien's famous work. He also fused elements of Saumurai movies and other influences into his films, but Tolkien provided the overall roadmap to the original trilogy.

What is also interesting is how Lucas sought to conceal that central influence. Tolkien often cited his study of mythology as one of his central influences for the Lord of the Rings. In early interviews, Lucas parroted Tolkien's explanation and said that Star Wars came from Lucas's own study of mythology. In fact, I believe, the primary mythology he studied was Tolkien's work itself. He even named his third film of the original series "The Return of the Jedi". When interviewed, Lucas offered the rather implausible explanation that he gave it that name because his original title "Revenge of the Jedi" seemed too harsh for the ideals of a Jedi. The more banal explanation is that it is just a further mimicry of Tolkien's 3rd installment "The Return of the King." If Lucas had known that Tolkien intended to call his third book "The War of the Ring", we might have gotten "The War of the Force" instead.

I also think that subtitling the original Star Wars "episode IV" was a further effort to throw people off the track. Moreover, one reason The Lord of the Rings has such enduring appeal is that it constantly evokes a history and background untold. In the case of Tolkien, he worked out the entire backstory of Middle Earth. Lucas merely slapped "episode IV" on his film to create that same feeling. I think that given how weak Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones were strongly suggests Lucas wrote those films as an afterthought and a way to further cash in on the franchise he built.

Only the third film really regained some of the magic, but that is really because it it was that much closer to the original, great, duplicated story.

By Anonymous Mike Hallock, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 10:23:00 PM  

One final point before I go to sleep.

In fact, the original Star Wars was subtitled "Episode IV: A new Hope". That is what appears at the top on the scrolling, yellow text at the beginning of the film. You are correct that it did not appear in the printed title of the film until much later.

And I am the "anonymous" who made the comments about Palpatine's motivations above. That was my first post.

By Anonymous Mike Hallock, at Tuesday, May 24, 2005 10:40:00 PM  

Yes, I have noticed some of the similarities between between films mentioned here, although George Lucas shamelessly rips off other things, too: did you notice the E.T. music and visual similarities between films as Yoda takes off in his little escape pod, for instance? (Of course, this is a kind of friendly payback for Steven Spielberg's own little riff of George Lucas in his own E.T. film: the part where E.T. sees a kid in a Yoda costume on Halloween and goes after him moaning out "Home! Home!" before Elliot & Co. restrain him.) I've also read some early scripts of A New Hope that show the Kurasawa and Tolkien influences more blatantly.

Gerard Jones and Will Jacobs of comicdom, however, have noted another influence that some seem to have overlooked: Jack Kirby, who gave both Marvel and DC a lot of their characters and mythology, may have been a very strong influence on George Lucas although, as the authors note, "Lucas... surely knew how litigious Warner Communications and Cadence Industries [DC and Marvel's owners at the time] might be if he said his billion-dollar baby came from the pages of Fantastic Four and the New Gods." [Jones & Jacobs, The Comic Book Heroes, p. 223]

The similarities between characters are, among other things:

Dr. Doom, arch-nemesis of the Fantastic Four, whose face was hideously burned during one of his experiments, wears a metal face mask and full-body suit of armor whenever in public, forbidding anyone to look at him except from behind when he has the mask off in private. He runs an entire nation of his own as a perversely beneficial tyrant (high living standards, but with murderously repressive laws) and was the fatherly Reed Richards' best friend in college before the two had a falling-out over the wisdom of his methods for practicing science, which involved mixing it liberally with magic. Not a bad archetype for Darth Vader, yes?

Then there's the New Gods mythology. Orion, the mutilated son of Darkseid (pronounced "Dark Side" in the D.C. cartoons) is a "peace child" that Darkseid traded to the planet of New Genesis to prevent a war between that planet and his own, the highly urbanized and thoroughly metallic Apokolips ("where life is the enemy and death is the great goal!") Orion, raised in ignorance that it is his destiny to fight his own father to the death, wields an "Astro-force" which derives from "the Source."

In some early scripts, the Death Star was not the equivalent of a galactic-sized nuke, but rather the base for an army of stormtroopers large enough to invade an entire planet, referencing possibly both Kurasawa's Hidden Fortress and Jack Kirby's planet of Apokolips (which might also be something of an inspiration for Coruscant, though that planet also conjures references to the thoroughly urbanized planet Anacreon from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.)

For Tolkien references, I should also mention that Galadriel told Sam and Frodo at one point that the things her mirror prophesied sometimes never came true unless the ones who saw the prophecies in it turned from their assigned quests and tried to prevent them from happening. Whereas Frodo and Sam wisely resist this temptation to fight their destiny, Anakin Skywalker does not.

In short, Lucas seems to be following what has become a Hollywood mantra: steal openly, steal brazenly, and if possible, steal from the best sources.

By Anonymous Comics Guy, at Wednesday, May 25, 2005 3:18:00 AM  

Looks like I can save a few dollars again with "Sith". Since I haven't seen any of the pre-quels this makes it three in a row.

I was dubious when the whole concept was announced. Lucas failure is now complete.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, May 25, 2005 5:18:00 AM  

Lucas failure is now complete.

As is your failure to parse this comment from the website owner:

I'd like to direct everyone's attention to the request in the left sidebar that people please not post comments anonymously?

By Anonymous Angus, at Wednesday, May 25, 2005 8:32:00 AM  

"In fact, the original Star Wars was subtitled 'Episode IV: A new Hope'. "

It appears we may be using "original" and "was" in differen manners. The original came out in 1977, and was called simply "Star Wars." In the film, and everywhere else. It wasn't until the 1981 release, four years later, that it was retitled. As the IMDB notes:
------------------
When the original theatrical version was first released, it was simply titled Star Wars.The opening crawl was changed to "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" during the 1981 re-release. According to Sterling Hedgpeth, Lucasfilm film archivist: "I found a box with all the positive elements for the 'revised' opening crawl, and the assorted trim boxes are dated from October through December 1980. This, then, is consistent with the view that Episode IV: A New Hope was added for the first time to the opening crawl for the April 10, 1981 re-release."
----------------------

Thanks to all for comments, as usual, and please forgive me that I don't respond to each one or every point. I'm not particularly interested in getting into a debate about where the line between "homage" and "stealing" is, or what are common characteristics of many stories versus elements specific enough to be legitimately called "stolen." But talk amongst yourselves as you like! :-) (Just remember: messages that cross the line of being excessively disrespectful or discourteous towards another will be deleted, and I'm the judge here of what goes over that line. (Generally, call ideas and statements what you like; characterizations of people are another; example: call a statement "idiotic"; please don't call someone an idiot.

Thanks.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Wednesday, May 25, 2005 9:44:00 AM  

1. Gary - Please, please, do not encourage anyone to attempt to speak Wookie.

2. Unless I recall the scene wrong, Yoda wasn't the only one to sense something - I think the guy with the tall head did too, except he was surrounded, whereas Yoda had wisely surrounded himself mainly with Wookies and only a sparse contingent of clones. As for Obi-Wan, he had been rather occupied with other matters.

3. As for the Tolkein parallels, I also noticed how Tolkein, Lucas and JK Rowling - who's fishing in the same waters - all identify fear of death as a source of evil. Palpatine, like Voldemort, promises to cheat death. This element is less explicit in LoTR (mainly in the life-prolonging nature of the Rings of Power), although it's very clear in the Silmarillion, esp. when the Numenoreans destroy themselves by rebelling (at Sauron's urgings) against the Valar in search of eternal life.

By Blogger Crank, at Thursday, May 26, 2005 9:02:00 AM  

How does Lucas explain the introduction of Qui-Gonn Jinn? In ESB and ROTJ, repeated references are made by Obi-Wan Kenobi about Yoda having been his master, and how Obi-Wan thought he could train Anakin just as well as Yoda. Why did Lucas decide to all of a sudden introduce a new Jedi master in PM, and why didn't he ever attempt to explain the discrepancy (or did he, and I just missed it)?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, May 26, 2005 12:07:00 PM  

But what really gets my hackles up about this movie is his demonization of Moral Absolutism, a stance made clear by his now infamous phrase:

Only The Sith Deal in Moral Absolutes

what I can say with utter consistancy but you cannot George is Moral Relativists Are EviL

..because your own credo - Everything is Relative - is worthless according to its own logic, it comes as no surprise that George-"you can write this shit but can't say it"-Lucas has never touched a primer on formal logic, such was his own elementary logical fallacy

Of course Lucas's doesn't stop there with the obvious slander, his subliminal message was his offensive promotion of a hell-in-hand-basket liberal no-revenge-culture ethics, with a direct allusion to contemporary events - Iraq and the 9/11 Holocaust(Greek for "the destruction of life by fire")

Check out my political analysis of this chronically liberal movie on my blog

http://volksweltbild.blogspot.com/

By Blogger nothing, at Friday, May 27, 2005 6:46:00 PM  

"Moral Relativists Are EviL"

Be that as it may, I think you may be missing two critical points. a)One should avoid the classic fallacy of confusing what a character or characters think with what the author thinks; b) that the one of the points of the whole thing is that the Sith were arrogant, and rather blind, and wrong. It took Luke and Anakin (which is chicken and which is egg?) to bring "balance to the force," and this took Luke ignoring Yoda's implorings to ignore his attachment to his friends and temporarily abandoning his training to try to save them, among other developments. The list of Jedi errors in these films is long. They're not the icons of correctness they, in their arrogance, think they are. This is what is commonly referred to as a story told by an "unreliable narrator."

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Friday, May 27, 2005 7:49:00 PM  

Re: "Only The Sith Deal in Moral Absolutes"

Someone emailed Instapundit to point out that that line itself is an absolute statement. Thus, as Obi Wan spoke the words, he was contradicting himself.

So, one explanation is that Lucas was blinded by his Hollywood political leanings, wanted to slip in an anti-Bush message, and missed the ironic, self-contradictary nature of the line he wrote. The other, as Gary aptly points out above, is that Lucas was being intentionally ironic to illustrate how the Jedi lost their way.

Which explanation makes more sense in light of the entire Star Wars story?

I think it is pretty clearly the latter. Think about it. Darth Vader was an evil that arose both from the deliberate corruption of the emperor as well as the tragic mistakes of the Jedi. Yoda failed to see and anticipate the nature of his enemy. As we know from Empire, he is so chastened and humbled by his arrogance and failure, he had at that time withdrawn completely.

The greatest Jedi failure, of course, lay with Obi Wan. His failure was not, as I overheard one kid say at the end of the film, neglecting to finish off Anikin/Vader when he had the chance. Rather, it was that he had entirely given up on Anikin. As Luke S. shows us in the final film, Vader was not beyond redemption even at the very end. Thus, when Obi Wan spoke that controversial line ("Only the Sith..."), he was in the act of committing one of the gravest errors in judgment imaginable.

Obi Wan's decision to leave Anikin to die in the burning flames gave birth to Vader as surely as any of the emperor's most manipulative schemes. It is also clear that Obi Wan came to realize his mistake. His self-sacrifice scene near the end of the original Star Wars has fresh meaning. Here Obi Wan sets his light saber aside and takes full responsibility the evil his errors enabled.

So, at the moment of one of the Jedi's gravest mistakes, a line is spoken that is inherently contradictory. Whose line do I mean?

Perhaps I'm giving Lucas too much credit, but he seems to be simultaneously saying the "either your with me or against me" fallacy of the excluded middle spoken by Anikin is wrong-headed as is the notion that only the most evil deal in absolutes. Both statements are logically flawed. It is surely possible to have a feeling towards something that is neither totally for or against it. Similarly, people of all persuasions deal in absolutes all the time. Both characters had tragedy befall them for their opposing views. The fitting irony is that each of those "opposing" views was wrong.

By Anonymous Mike Hallock, at Sunday, May 29, 2005 1:16:00 AM  

I'm a little suprised (and disappointed) that no one seems to be commenting on the fact that this shouldn't really be the last episode.

When Star Wars first came out there was a lot of talk about why it was called episode IV. It was said to be the first episode of the middle trilogy of THREE trilogies - in other words, there would be a total of NINE episodes. Revenge of the Sith just finishes the First Trilogy. The Second trilogy is also finished - what about the THIRD trilogy. Are those plans now scrapped?


To expand a little on Mr. Farber's response to this comment: Once it became certain that a sequel would be made (which, in the planning stages, was initially called "Star Wars II"), George Lucas started to be a bit more open about his ideas/plans with regard to the story generally. He did, at one point in the late '70s or early '80s, state that there were supposed to be three trilogies. I seem to recall that he claimed this was his intention all along, but the various drafts of the first film lend only flimsy support for this contention. The story of the early drafts is certainly sweeping in scope, but it bears only passing resemblance to what actually got filmed and released. There was, however, a desire on Lucas's part to have sequels. In an interview around the time of the first film's release, Mark Hamill commented that Lucas wanted Star Wars to kick off a series of films, like the James Bond movies.

I read a relatively recent interview with Gary Kurtz (the producer on "Star Wars" and "The Empire Strikes Back"), in which he commented on some of the story planning for the original trilogy. According to Kurtz, at the time of "Empire Strikes Back," the "other" referred to by Yoda was not necessarily supposed to be Leia. The initial idea was that Luke's twin sister was not Leia, but rather that she had been hidden in a secluded location elsewhere in the galaxy. The third trilogy would be taken up by Luke's search for his sister. Of course, Kurtz and Lucas parted ways before "Return of the Jedi", and Lucas obviously decided on a more tidy ending to the original trilogy.

Around the time of the Special Editions, and definitely circa the release of Episode I, George Lucas began stating definitively that he would not make episodes seven through nine, and that the story was complete with only six episodes.

By Anonymous El Draque, at Friday, June 03, 2005 11:12:00 PM  

Thank you El Draque and all the others that responded to my question about the three trilogies.

I admit that my memory of the comments is pretty vague. I just thought that I remembered there being plans for nine episodes. Thanks for clearing things up.

I'm glad that George Lucas decided to do the episodes he did. They have been very entertaining and have helped to push the boundaries of special effects in movies much farther than if he hadn't done them.

By Anonymous Larry A, at Wednesday, June 22, 2005 10:55:00 AM  

"The movies should stand on their own. People have been writing self contained stories since the beginning of history, think Iliad."

It occurs to me, yet this belatedly (but, hey, people are still posting here as of last week), that this is -- the Iliad, that is -- one of the worst examples of all time of a "self-contained" story.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Wednesday, June 29, 2005 11:45:00 PM  

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