No. 2. Originality Isn’t What You Think It Is
Less than 30 sleeps to go before opening night of The Force Awakens. This is unreal. But the closer we get, the more people find their cynic-gene and express it on the internet, so I have to address something that people lose sight of regarding the genre that is Star Wars.
The chief concern is that The Force Awakens is going to be a re-hash of the original trilogy. I too, share that concern. It is a valid concern and will be a valid criticism of the film after its release. But in light of recent comments by Star Wars Creator himself, George Lucas, the prequel fanboy community rears its ugly head and wantd to dismiss The Force Awakens as a re-make or reboot done by imposter J.J. Abrams that will only repeat the same story beats and archetypes of the original trilogy. In essence, it will be a fan-fiction of the most offensive kind.
But I have news for those cynical fanboys defending George Lucas’ decisions and supposed ‘originality’ in the prequels. Star Wars, and the space operas that inspired it, are more repetitive than original. The prequels, were repetitive and meant to rhyme with the original trilogy. This isn’t the musing of an original trilogy fanboy either, its fact from the Creator’s mouth himself – the same Creator that wasn’t sure who Leia’s mother was, or whether Leia was even Luke’s sister.
Star Wars is a composition of different homages to the happenings of George Lucas’ youth and passions – fast cars, the golden age of aerial dogfighting, Akira Kurosawa films, Westerns, and space opera serials and comics. The creative and literary feat of Star Wars isn’t its ‘originality’ per se. The mere fact that it was made and the fact that it made an emotional connection with general audiences who were outside the sci-fi and comic book subcultures are the true feats of Star Wars, not the ‘originality’.
The structure of Star Wars isn’t original – and its NOT MEANT TO BE. The use of mythological archetypes and the hero’s journey is what connects us to this completely foreign and wacky world where space wizards roam a galaxy with sounds and explosions in space. There’s little green elves, space slugs, spears used alongside blasters, pirates, and artificial gravity. There’s also a big scary planet-destroying weapon that still utilizes hydraulic trash compacting technology for a reason we don’t really care about because our hero, his gentle giant companion, a rogue pirate, and the princess are trapped in it and going to be killed by it. Its those archetypes that ground us firmly in that universe without a need for expositional dialogue (I’m still waiting for an on-screen explanation of what the Trade Federation is actually getting out of their deal with Darth Sidious).
When you educate yourself on the history of space operas, you find that Star Wars takes tons and tons of scenes and ideas from other works. If you saw John Carter, you saw a gladiator arena battle just like the one in Attack of the Clones. John Carter’s source material is from Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom novels from the 1910’s – the origin of all space opera. Buck Rogers title character had a rocket-pack before Boba Fett did and shot a blaster that looked exactly like Han Solo’s. Buck Rogers’ female companion was a political leader of a rebellion before Princess Leia donned those ridiculous buns. Podracing is chariot racing from Ben Hur and Gladiator and the Old Republic is Rome as depicted in countless incarnations of Julius Caesar. Anakin is Jesus and every other virgin or divine birthed Greek hero before Christ. The story of Jesus isn’t even original for Christ’s sake!!! Dionysis, the Greek god that turns everything into wine (!), was also born on December 25. Google it. Oh, and this:
Yep. Also see:
Nothing’s original, and neither is the story of the Skywalkers. Gladiator’s Maximus and Braveheart’s William Wallace (another man ironically mythologized into the myth of Robin Hood) also lose a father figure, have their loves lost to them, and fight to bring peace and liberty to their people. Its not, at any time, meant to be original, its meant to connect the audience with something great, something amazing, something inspiring – and that’s what we get in Star Wars, just a bit more fantastical and paradoxically more relatable than other space opera films.
Secondly, the prequels were not original either. They were meant to “rhyme”. Those are the Creator’s words himself – our heroes get captured repeatedly and have to escape, our hero is found on Tatooine, gets caught up in Jedi-Sith dueling and drama, the old Jedi dies, and our hero participates in the destruction of a spherical vessel during the female lead’s quest to bring freedom to her people.
Anakin is that same ‘chosen one’, which was neither original (especially because The Matrix did it better the same year of The Phantom Menace) nor was a welcome plot device to the audience that liked the downtrodden mysterious farmboy – no matter how whiny they both were. More recently, I can’t understand why Shmi and Anakin Skywalker live in better conditions than any slave in history – they have private rooms, a dining room, a beautiful kitchen, and a backyard balcony!!!!!!!!!
So please, do not claim that Star Wars is some completely original thing and re-using concepts of all space operas is offensive to anybody. To the prequel defenders, please put your inferiority complexes away for a bit. If you didn’t like the old generation hankering over your love of the prequels for the past decade, don’t do it to the next generation of kids who will undoubtedly be drawn in by a hero from a wasteland, that hero’s roguish sidekicks, and a good old fight between good and evil. There will be lightsabers, dogfights, explosions, funky droids, fast things, and weird looking aliens – and it won’t be completely original, but it will be in the same universe where good wizards battle evil wizards for the soul of the galaxy, and man….do we love that galaxy or what?
See you on the 17th of December, 2015.
“May the Force Be With You, Always”