Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Star Wars and Politics, Entry II

Since Saturday, the online and offline media have exploded with reports and reviews of George Lucas' statements at the Festival de Cannes where he reiterated the political points of Star Wars.

In anticipation of the widespread distribution of Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, in progress with the general cinematic release at midnight, bloggers across the spectrum are scrambling with their spin.

After reading or hearing several of these reports from various ideological perspectives (e.g. Chuck Baldwin, The Washington Post, and Vox Day), I suggest that anyone reading the reviews also consider the statements from George Lucas himself. The commentators (sometimes styling themselves as reporters) use Star Wars to make important political statements, and Lucas harnesses political issues to add depth to his dramas.

Here are some of my excerpts from Science Fiction Weekly. These highlight the main points, but to really get Lucas' perspective, please read it for yourself along with his comments from Cannes.

[Dykstra:] The Star Wars films seem prescient in their explorations of democracy and dictatorships. Was that always your plan?

Lucas: ...The whole point of the movies, the underlying element that makes the movies work, is that you ... start out in a democracy, and democracy turns into a dictatorship, and then the rebels make it back into a democracy.

[Dykstra:] You actually have the line, "This is how we lose a democracy." How personal a comment was that?

Lucas: That was pretty much there 30 years ago. It really came out of the Vietnam War. It came out of Nixon wanting to change the rules so that he could get a third term, and with that—I'm a big history buff—I was beginning to study Caesar... I'm not really saying why as much as how it gets done, because it always gets done in the same way.

In making Star Wars, Lucas draws upon a wide gamut of religious and mythological literature to connect the audience with his story, and he does the same with political history. We need to bring balance to our analyses of the writers' purposes as they interact with each others' product genre.


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