On Frontline: World, this week I saw an amazing story about bride kidnapping in Krygyzstan. I knew very little about this practice and it was incredibly fascinating and utterly disturbing.
And another great review of the latest Star Wars film. Not a review that says that the movie is great but rather a review that is well-written. Andrew Sarris continues to amaze me with his excellent reviews. I should read some of his old famous stuff at some point.
Sarris doesn't like the movie but he admits to the reader that he never really liked any of the movies. His review is an honest attempt to try to understand the phenomenon and not a smug skewering.
It is all worth reading but if you only read a bit of it, this will give a good idea on his take on the film:
After the mandatory half-hour of commercials and coming attractions, mostly of doomsday spectacles exploding with special effects, the Star Wars saga with its overfamiliar and overbearing John Williams score roared onto the screen. Not far into the first third of the movie, I didn’t think I was going to make it all the way through the percussive nonstop action. Then came the middle third of clumsily articulated political exposition with such buzzwords as "republic," "empire," "democracy," "Senate," "liberty" and "peace" interspersed with a badly written and badly acted B-picture romance. (I refuse to believe the rumor that Tom Stoppard collaborated with Mr. Lucas on the script.)
Then came the last third, which consisted mostly of two separate but related light-saber duels that went on and on, followed by two hospital scenes, one giving cosmetic and spiritual birth to Darth Vader, and the other showing the seemingly immaculate birth of twins delivered at the cost of the mother’s life. If ever an ending seemed to cry out for a sequel, it was this in medias res anticlimax, in which the bad guys emerge triumphant while the surviving good guys go into hiding. But presumably the sequel had already been made in the form of the first Star Wars movie—and so, in a sense, we were now back before the beginning.
No matter: The kids cheered at the end, and since the world is filled with people’s children and grandchildren, the picture should do remarkably well at the box office—unless conservative zealots in the red states organize an effective boycott by feasting on such allegorically charged lines as "If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy" (Bush on the war on terror); "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes" (Bush on stem-cell research); and "This is how liberty dies—to thunderous applause" (Bush’s re-election).
The problem with any political analysis of the Star Wars phenomenon is that Mr. Lucas has never made a serious effort to depict a functioning human society. Setting the series in a far-off galaxy, light-years away in time and space, makes his world escapist enough. But even more trivializing is the diffusion of speech and consciousness among a mixture of creatures: Some are lower on the evolutionary scale than humans; some recognizably human enough for the audience to identify with; and some are created by humans as servile androids. From the beginning, these three types of beings have intermingled freely in a state of tolerant cuteness that is much closer to the world of animated cartoons than to the real world.
I hope to see the film this weekend.