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A New Hope is Structured Like a Song

Discussion in 'Original Trilogy' started by Jayson, Aug 12, 2020.

  1. Jayson

    Jayson Force Sensitive

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    So I was messing around and ended up in a weird train of thought about something else, but that lead me to question the idea of what Star Wars (1977) would look like if I condensed it down to a three and half minute radio-friendly pop song length.

    So, I did, and it was mind blowing.
    All I really did was track when primary shifts in tempo in the film happened. Leia's ship action opening until we meet Luke on Tatooine when the droids are brought for sale is one section, for example.
    From that point until Luke goes hunting for R2 is another. Hunting for R2 until heading for Mos Eisley is another, etc....
    Basically major shifts in settings and momentum.

    The big part at the 71 minute marker in regular speed (134 second mark at 32x speed) is the prison break and subsequent mayhem.

    I layered over the typical Act1, 2, 3 setup's narrative blocks (i.e. "Intro to world and lead") with a song's blocks (i.e. Verse 1.a lead, soft backing).

    I also provided the intensity, amount of action, and length of each section.
    "Song length" means at 32x speed, which puts the film into a total runtime of a song of 3:40.

    "Film length" means at regular speed.

    I used the Original version of the film (Laser Disc - admittedly this isn't exactly the original, but it's very close).
    I clipped the beginning to when the scroll starts.
    I clipped the ending credits off.
    The clipping was done to ensure the actual part of the film was what was being measured and not the entire packaging around the film.

    So...here it is.
    (click the link to see the full scale version)
    https://public.tableau.com/profile/jayson4990#!/vizhome/thestarwarssong/Dashboard1?publish=yes

    Capture.PNG

    I find this incredibly fascinating.
    This is basically the format for a "singer-songwriter" 32 bar song, which commonly do this kind of formatting where you have two verse sections before you jump into a quick one round of the chorus, and then go through a bigger version of the verse one last time real quick before you jump into a long version of the chorus, followed by a bridge that breaks everything down before the final hurrah where you hit the chorus one last time with everything you've got.

    It's also interesting to me that, even if you don't compare it to music (which I personally think is very cool), the film has been edited in such a manner that it cleanly slices into nearly perfectly even blocks of ~15 minute sections of rise and falls that lead perfectly into each other.

    It's really just a damn well edited film.

    Cheers,
    Jayson
     
    #1 Jayson, Aug 12, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
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  2. Jayson

    Jayson Force Sensitive

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    I should note the Tableau is not formatted for mobile or tablet, so you will only be able to see it right on a laptop or desktop computer.

    I might try to format it later....not sure.

    Cheers,
    Jayson
     
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  3. Lukestarbucker

    Lukestarbucker Rebel General

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    Wow, quite a creative thread here, yet very smart. I do agree with you, yes. :)

    This thread will really make some people think about the topic as well.
     
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  4. Embo and His Pet Anooba

    Embo and His Pet Anooba Rebel Official

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    do you think lucas had these things in mind when he made it?
     
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  5. Jayson

    Jayson Force Sensitive

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    The idea of modeling after a song was probably not in his mind.

    I say that because the result we have is after a lot of editing - one of the most famous editing sessions in film history.

    What Lucas wrote in the 4th draft (final) was different than what he shot, and, more importantly, what was edited together as the final was very considerably different from what he shot.

    What Lucas brought in, and how he had it laid out in the first pass was simply ... not good.

    He and his wife spent a lot of time cleaning it up.
    Aside from cutting almost a third of the first act, he most famous shift was the ending.

    The ending was quite different in terms of pacing and was far more long winded. They ended up shooting inserts of the "radar" showing the proximity of the death star to inter cut and dropped a ton of footage that was originally intended to be used.

    Now, Lucas has always said he considers the movie to actually be made in the editing room and everything before is a supply of material.

    But Maria, his wife at the time, had a hell of a lot to do with editing it to the way we see it. Most of what tightened it up and made it have a snappy pace was her doing.

    So, no, I don't think it was intentional.
    What I more think is that part of the reason the film works so dang well is because it moves in a manner very similar to pop songs.
    And pop songs move like they do because it's a refined result after a long history of trial and error on catching the attention and emotional excitement of a large number of people.

    Of course, just having a good structure doesn't mean a song is going to work, but if the material in it is good, then the structure will almost always make it catch a lot of ears.

    I suspect the same is true in film.
    I haven't done so, but I wouldn't be surprised if we cracked open major cultural hitting films that we would find a good number of them having a film's version of a pop song format.

    Cheers,
    Jayson
     
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  6. Jayson

    Jayson Force Sensitive

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    Typo. Should have been Marcia for Lucas' wife.

    Cheers,
    Jayson
     
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