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Star Wars, the greatest postmodern art film ever ?


Star Wars, at its secret, spiky intellectual heart, has more in common with films like Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books or even Matthew Barney's The Cremaster Cycle than with the countless cartoon blockbusters it spawned. Greenaway and Barney take the construction of their own work as a principal artistic subject, and Lucas does, too. "This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level," one of John Ashbery's works begins. Star Wars, we might say, is concerned with plot on a very plain level. Everything about the films, from the opening text crawls to the out-of-order production of the two trilogies, foregrounds the question of plot. As an audience, we grapple with not just the intricate clockwork of a complex and interwoven narrative, but, in postmodern fashion, with the fundamental mechanics of storytelling itself.

DVD cover
As Star Wars works to make us aware of its own narrative structure, other odd things about the films start to come into focus. Most significantly, we start to notice that the films are an elaborate meditation on the dialectic between chance and order. They all depend upon absurd coincidence to propel the story forward. Just what are the odds, in just one of near-infinite examples, that of all the planets in that galaxy far, far away, the droids should end up back on Tatooine, in the home of the son of the sweet (if annoying) boy who had built C-3PO decades before? Throughout all six films there are scenes of crucial serendipity. Such dependence on unlikely coincidence isn't unique to Star Wars. As literary critics have long pointed out, the arbitrary yoking together of events in the service of storytelling is one of the fundamental characteristics of all narrative. R2-D2 needs to hook up with Luke on Tatooine, just as Prospero's enemies need to wash up on the shores of his island, and Elizabeth Bennet needs to marry Mr. Darcy, for the narrative requirements of those stories to be fulfilled. The audience's willing surrender to narrative coincidence is demanded by the story's need to conclude itself.

Continued in the same vein. Well worth a read. It glosses over certain issues, but takes an interesting approach the the theamatic strucutre of all six movies. I just assumed he made it up as he went along...
Re: Star Wars, the greatest postmodern art film ev

Well, anyone who compares Prospero's Books to Star Wars is either kidding himself, or having a go at us. :LOL: One hardly needs to look at high brow "art" to find the plot devices, and coincidences that he points out in Star Wars. I think he's just being silly, or reaching too far, at least. Not that I don't enjoy both sorts of films, but Star Wars doesn't need that sort of comparison to be justified. But, if someone finds it amusing, fine. :D
Re: Star Wars, the greatest postmodern art film ev

This is just something geeks like to do- give their fairy-tale obsessions creedence by comparing it to "high" art. You know, Batman is Dante's Inferno, Lord of the Rings is Virgil, etc, when they're all just kiddie stories that we refuse to grow out of.
Re: Star Wars, the greatest postmodern art film ev

when they're all just kiddie stories that we refuse to grow out of.
Then again, so too are most of the "great epics" and "high art" pieces that are used for the comparisons.

Iliad ..... Odyssey .... Beowulf .... Le Mort D'Arthur ......

They're all really good kiddie adventure stories, just like The Lord of the Rings is. :cool: :D
Re: Star Wars, the greatest postmodern art film ev

That is pretty fuuny. Even funnier, I saw someone today on the UK Browncoat's forum said Lucas' dialogue was like Bertholt Brecht's!

Nope, it's just pi$h. ;)


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