Episode 281: It’s Anakin, Not Ana-Can’t

August 15, 2014

Episode281

Featuring Matt Anderson and Ben De Bono

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4 comments on “Episode 281: It’s Anakin, Not Ana-Can’t

  1. Michael Aug 21, 2014

    Man, you guys make me feel old. Not so much because I saw “Star Wars” during its original theatrical run when I was five years old (and when movies could stay in the theaters a year or more if they kept doing box office business), but because you went on at such length about how people used to record movies off of TV on old-style VHS tapes… Sigh. (I used to do that with “Star Trek” episodes, sitting next to the VCR — no wireless remote control — to punch the pause button to edit out commercials at each break. Sheesh!)

    I don’t have memories of reacting one way or another to the sight of “Episode V” at the top of EMPIRE, but I do remember, circa 1978 or 79, a babysitter telling me about how she’d read an article about Lucas’ plans for 9 films. (Which is one reason I used to get so peeved when, in the 1990s, Lucas denied ever having such a plan. The documentary evidence exists, George! We’re not stupid.) So the idea that we were in the middle/early end of a longer story was not a surprising one. (And, “Ben is right” – EMPIRE certainly is a perfect film.)

    JEDI has always felt like the “TV movie” version of the original trilogy to me. How sad that only 1/3 of the complete “Star Wars Saga” (as it stands today) is much good or has much depth. How amazing the Star Wars saga has survived and thrived in spite of that fact. My son, 13 years old, still swears Episode II is his favorite Star Wars film. Breaks my geek heart.

    (Oh, and Ben is ALSO right about “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I liked it, too, but, based on the buzz before I went, I was sure expecting something a lot more original and innovative. It was fun, but, for all that the main characters include a tree creature and a laser-wielding racoon, it’s a very conventional superhero/space action movie.)

    Anyway, all that aside, I enjoyed part 1 of your discussion. On to part 2!

    (PS. Ok, I’ll bite, even though it probably means me losing some nerd cred… what is the deal with “It’s ________-can, not _______- can’t”? I note you did the same thing with the title of the Comic-Con wrap-up. Am I forgetting something, or did I just miss out entirely?)

    • Ben De Bono Aug 22, 2014

      It’s a play off of the lame-but-funny “It’s AmeriCAN not AmeriCAN’T” joke. It’s also a result of us not being able to come up with a better title 🙂

  2. In an epic podcast backlog, I finally listened to this podcast today.

    Though normally excellent when it concerns scholarly matters, Ben failed to include what should be a major consideration in the “Where did George go wrong?” debate. Seriously, I love how well read Ben is about many of the topics, but…

    It’s critical to include the source documents when considering the epic fail of the prequels. I’m talking about the screenplays. Multiple versions of the episode IV screenplay are available online. Even scanning the first few pages of the early (Lucas driven) drafts reveals that Lucas just doesn’t have much story sense. (Plus, despite his assertions about mythology, the final eIV story was essentially a re-boot of Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress.)

    It’s easy to see the rollercoaster sensibilities—the action over interest anti-aesthetic that demolished Lucas’s later works. In fact, early drafts of Raiders also show that Kasdan and Spielberg moved away from an action only film and pushed the story in ways that gave Indy a powerful character arc.

    Looking at these screenplays I’d argue that there was no definitive moment where Lucas derailed. The more he had to collaborate with others, the better his stories were. As he gained more control over his stories, his stories deteriorated. By the time you get to the prequels he’s basically the only voice in the room. And…

    I would even argue that this explains why the prequels got better as they went on. Shooting eI he was a legend. No one even questioned his choices, but as people saw how tone deaf it was, his yes-men grew less compliant on eII and eIII.

    Thanks for letting me rant.

    Enjoy Dadhood.

    • Ben De Bono Nov 8, 2014

      That’s a good observation. I don’t know that it contradicts with what we were saying. My argument wasn’t that Lucas was a good writer who became a bad writer, but that (according to Kurtz) he underwent a philosophical shift regarding storytelling sometime during ESB. I suspect he was always a mediocre to bad writer, whose skills were buffeted (early on) by a solid storytelling philosophy and a good behind-the-scenes supporting cast.

      The one point I would disagree on is regarding the prequels. The prequels improved as they went forward because the subject matter improved. I don’t now of any evidence that Rick McCallum and co. did anything to change their yes-man tactics. (though if you know of any I’d be quite interested to see it)

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