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The Ending: Beautiful, but problematic

Discussion in 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' started by NinjaRen, Jan 5, 2020.

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Did you like the ending on Tatooine

  1. Yes

    66 vote(s)
    63.5%
  2. No

    23 vote(s)
    22.1%
  3. I would have preferred... (please post down below)

    15 vote(s)
    14.4%
  1. eeprom

    eeprom Prince of Bebers

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    I just mean that the idea of Luke reacting violently impulsive toward someone threatening the people he loves, isn’t something wholly new that TLJ brought to the table. It’s a regrettably negative trait the character was already established to possess. Maybe it could have been presented a bit clearer in the film, maybe it could have been better "earned", but it’s not coloring outside the lines. RJ was playing fair. Emotional attachment is both Luke's greatest strength and his greatest weakness.
     
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  2. smpreet

    smpreet Clone

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    I think I messed something up above lol ... sorry
     
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  3. Jayson

    Jayson Resident Lucasian

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    All of the Star Wars films are horrible lessons in writing by typical standards of story writing.
    But if you only look at the story writing, you're missing two thirds of what's going on in these things and why things are doing as they do.
    Another third is theatrics, and boy, Lucas was big on theatrics. He constantly made choices because it made a bigger bang on the screen and not because it made sense in the story. He was never below a good cheap trick.
    You can see him openly making such choices in the making of books.

    The other third is that every film Lucas made was a commentary on cinema as both a history and as an artform.
    Every film was an experiment, and tons of stuff in the story are the way they are because he was trying out a cinematic idea - philosophically.

    For example, the dialogue in Star Wars is classed as wooden, and Lucas himself is pretty open about it.
    A lot of people think he's just bad at dialogue, but he's not. He's perfectly capable of writing decent and good dialogue.
    Star Wars aren't the only films he's ever made, and you can't say it's because other writers were doing the writing, because other writers were doing the writing in ESB and ROTJ (Kasdan) and the dialogue is only marginally less wooden because Lucas wouldn't let the writers alter it to how you would normally write.

    He wanted the dialogue to work like a sound effect, or musical score. It's highly experimental and esoteric.
    Which is absolutely par for Lucas - he's something like the middle point between David Fynch and Steven Spielberg.
    Half of what he does is for high-brow ideas, and half of what he does is for cheap shot thrills (cheap shot thrills aren't bad, btw - the circus is nothing but cheap shot thrills and there's nothing wrong with the circus).

    Aside from the sound effect/musical score angle, the dialogue is meant to tell you exactly what every motive is so that when you see metaphorical archetypes doing actions upon each other or in a situation, the allegorical symbolism was easier to spot.
    If you use regular dialogue that always has one conversation being said and another conversation being meant, then when the archetypal characters do actions upon each other or in a situation, the allegorical symbolism can get entirely missed or misunderstood because you can't control what people understood the characters to really be saying in the subtext...because there is subtext.

    The point of it all is that Ben says he "felt a great disturbance in the Force... as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."

    It becomes immediately obvious later when Ben speaks from the great beyond of death what's going on.
    We know exactly that he is with the Force because we know that voices can carry through it.

    And we get the symbolism - a noble (which we know because he says he was "was once a Jedi Knight" from a "more civilized time") wise (which we know because Han remarks on Ben's teachings as "Hokey religions") wizard (which we know because he's literally called an "crazy wizard") went to the Force and still reach Luke.

    Something he can do because he told Darth Vader straight out, "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

    The dialogue was setting up the scene one after the other after the other so that when Ben's killed and his body disappears and he becomes audible to Luke, we get the magic of it and buy right into it without a second of thought.

    But those bits of dialogue are written terribly by standards.
    No one writes dialogue like that. If Schindler's list was written with that kind of dialogue, it would have flopped hard and been a giant painful mess.

    It only works because of how it's being used.
    It's a massive experimental cinema test - a grand experiment.

    And every film he tries something (usually multiple things) crazy like that.

    And all of them come from a place of historic awareness - he's massively keyed into the metastory of cinema...the story that cinema tells of itself over time as evidenced by what you see in films over time, and he's constantly silently talking about it by what he does with his films. We're all familiar with the homages in Star Wars to old films, but it's far more than that - those homage's exist because he's setting up a frame of topical reference to respond to in his film.
    It's not just an homage to the Dam Busters - it's a complete response to the dog fight in cinema and its history. It's a complete response that goes all the way back to 1927's Wings and says, "Yes, but what about doing this?"

    Another example of both at once is the cameras. Think back. There's no camera up the nose in Lucas' Star Wars (though ESB gets close, and was part of why Lucas was frustrated). It's distanced. Actors act to each other - not to the camera (again, ESB aside).
    This was purposeful - very purposeful.

    It's a response to the cinematic topic of subjectivity and objectivity going all the way back to the days of the beginning of cinema with the first tableau films and the shocking, for its day, The Great Train Robbery (1918).

    It does this because he wanted to give the objectivity of reality using the methods of documentaries so that the content of the fantasy felt more tangible as a subjective experience.

    The convention grew: To make something feel more personal and real, you normally use a more subjective camera with actors acting to the camera. To make something less personal and cold, you use an objective camera where everyone's body shots and at a distance from you all the time.

    He flipped the idea around. To make something hardly believable believable he used a less personal way of giving it to you.
    In other words, it works because he makes you subconsciously hungry for that subjective view of that fantastic thing - In Star Wars, you're always a kid staring through the toy store window at the amazing toy on the other side...and that makes you personalize everything more because of you want to hold that fantasy - we all do...that's why we go to movies. It's a massive tease. The best one every pulled in cinema, really (imo).

    So you have to look at all three aspects when looking at dissecting Star Wars: story, theatrics, cinema as a craft.

    If you only look at the story, Star Wars starts to fall apart all over the place and you're left standing around scratching your head asking how come it still works when it's all wrong.
    ...it's only all wrong when you're only looking at one third of what makes it tick.

    I thought Han was perfectly fine. Everything clicked right.
    It's actually a better Han than ROTJ by a long shot, but that doesn't much matter. What matters is the whole big picture.
    How well does Han serve the story. Very well, I think.

    I may have been a Han fan as a kid, and I still have a soft spot for the archetype, but I've grown to favor the film as a whole more than any character it a film.
    Character's are just cogs in the clock.

    Theatrics. ;)
    There's absolutely nothing wrong with loving something simply because it's an enjoyable visual experience of an idea.
    I love watching Zorro shows. There's no good reason to watch old black and white Zorro TV episodes narratively. They are absolute back of the cereal box stories.
    I just love watching a hero in black swinging a sword around.

    That's why Luke in ROTJ at the beginning works at all, really. The first moment a sword was placed into the hands of Luke with the words about "knight" "crusade" "civilized" hanging in the air, everyone everywhere was immediately primed to want a swashbuckling pay off - especially if you were a kid at the time.

    And you get it. Luke in black dashing about gangplanks and swinging on ship rigging taking out baddies with fox-like prowess with his saber.

    But the thing is: is that what every story needs Luke to be?
    We all love that Luke in ROTJ because it's a blast, but Luke isn't that in ANH.
    Had he been, everything would be radically different. We wouldn't spend two films waiting to see Luke become a competent sword swinger. He would just jump out from the beginning like Zorro and dash off to save the day, and the entire metaphor wrapped around passivity leading to tyranny would be horribly confused.

    So every story needs a different Luke. There's not the "OT Luke".
    There's an ANH Luke, an ESB Luke, and an ROTJ Luke. Each for their own purpose.
    TLJ is yet another Luke and it needs him for a different purpose than the previous three.
    It needs Luke to teach us about becoming jaded, losing faith, self guilt, and how that all can be just as vain as being full of pomp, faith, and self assuredness.
    Luke seriously thought it was all his fault and that he shouldn't have done what he did...which is exactly where he leaves off in ROTJ - when things go wrong, he's the kind of person who self guilts and beats himself up for putting others in danger.

    He built a new order of Jedi to fix everything that went wrong, and in his mind, he instead caused the very thing he hoped to prevent.
    And he did exactly what we have always seen him do in that kind of situation: self guilt and beats himself up for putting others in danger.

    And then....he goes past that. He actually never went past that in ROTJ.
    He self guilted and beat himself up for putting others in danger, and then....forgave his father who saved his butt and end of story.
    Luke never faces his actual weakness of shutting down like an over-clocked Irish Catholic who's about one pence away from glooming at the pub behind a pint for their sins.

    TLJ gives him that growth and pushes him beyond that - giving him closure on that weakness.
    He learns that when he fails, he doesn't fail the world. When he fails, he shows that he cares, and that is what really counts - not how dangerous of a world he does or doesn't make.

    It's a direct response to the Jedi in the Prequels at the same time.

    It's a two for one deal.

    Think about it for a moment...think back to ROTJ.
    The guy who could forgive his father whom had taken away everything he had, and had caused his friends sufferring.

    He's standing there knowing that Ben will bring such pain and suffering to the world, and he knows his Jedi duty requires him to stop him for the greater good, but he can't do it.
    So far, this sounds exactly familiar to the old Luke's moral bearings.

    Then what does he do after Ben flips out and goes ape-s*** evil and thinks of it as the reason for his actions?
    Luke blames himself and mopes, giving up because even his visions of what will happen are a lie - all of it just causes more suffering. Just as the Jedi did with Vader. Just as Obi and Yoda did. He's keenly aware of that fact here - he openly points out the Jedi, like him, cause suffering by creating darkness in their attempts to contain it.

    That's the Luke TLJ needed.
    A much more mature Luke who was facing his inner demons he never had to face in the OT and got off scot free with.
    One to teach us, not about being willing to help (ANH). Not one about facing your fear of yourself (ESB). Not about forgiving others (ROTJ).
    One about forgiving yourself (TLJ) and how not doing that binds up the other three into a dungeon in the heart until you learn to forgive yourself and find yourself once again able to face your fear of yourself (what you'll cause), and help (show up on Crate) by forgiving others (not being mad at Kylo, but being sorry, and warning Kylo of the consequences of his actions - that he would be haunted by them).

    Now, to me...that's absolutely Luke because Luke isn't just Zorro. He's not just a sword swinging super hero with psionic powers.
    He's a lesson of how to cope with important aspects of life experiences we all face at some point in our life.
    Be willing to help, face your fears of yourself, and forgive others.
    But also, be willing to forgive yourself, because if you don't, you won't be able to do the others.

    It's a wonderful ride, but you have to look at the whole picture and not just one part.
    All three elements in each film, and then when you look at the film, you have to look at the bigger picture it fit into leading up to it and where things are headed - again, in all three aspects...not just in terms of story.

    ESB is a marvel of a film for several reasons.
    I personally don't enjoy it because I personally don't like downer films or second acts in films (usually), but the film itself is a marvel of filmmaking.

    There's some rough spots (Luke not screaming at Vader about killing his Uncle and Aunt or Ben), but it has amazing brightness in there.

    It's a symmetrical story, and running a split narrative is psychotic - think about walking in with a script to a producer that has your main cast separated from each other for the dominant amount of the film and expecting anything other than shock at your stupidity...Lucas did it, and people screamed, and he made it work.

    Cheers,
    Jayson
     
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  4. eeprom

    eeprom Prince of Bebers

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    A truly dark period in cinematic history, which has been expunged with great pained effort, is the unconscionable experiment conducted by government scientists to create the perfect film director by combining the DNA of famed auteurs David Fincher and David Lynch. What resulted was an ungodly abomination. A nightmare meat monster who was only interested in gimmicky serial killers expressing their inner anxieties in visual metaphor only understood by himself.

    They thought they were so damn clever. They thought they had it all figured out. Those self-congratulatory maniacs. They almost doomed us all. May god have mercy on humanity for the deviant afront to nature that was known as . . . David Fynch

    :D
     
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  5. Jayson

    Jayson Resident Lucasian

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    I did mean David Lynch. Man that was a funny read. :D

    Cheers,
    Jayson
     
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  6. smpreet

    smpreet Clone

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    Thanks for really in depth and concise breakdowns, def helps in how I'm thinking about them. My reason for focusing on story structure is because that's the prime thing that is important to me. I don't disagree with what you said about theatrics at all, and they are important also, that's what make something pop, but IMO it only works if the base story is there to make you care, at least initially. I know Lucas drew on a lot of cinematic inspiration, the stuff you always hear about is Kurosawa, i figured there were many others also, but it's good to have some specific examples, thanks!

    One thing I would say though is from a Storytelling/story structure perspective, ANH is actually very well put together. But I'd agree with you basically going forward from there the storytelling strengths do diminish and I completely agree on ESB split narrative. In many ways in my head it starts to feel a bit more like a TV series after ANH. for ESB and ROTJ you basically have 2 movies worth of content all jumbled up. if you focus on just Luke, you kinda sorta have 1 movie worth of stuff happen to him through ESB and ROTJ, him loosing to Vader and the big reveal at the end of ESB would basically be the mid point reversal. Han and Leia are basically in their own movie, which would run from ESB to really the show down at Jabba's palace.

    I should be clear I'm making some rather larger generalizations and i'm just talking about those characters and their plot beats.

    I think that's why you end up with the Han and Leia stuff sort of starting to fall apart in ROTJ as was discussed a bit earlier, because now they are just sort of kept around when narratively speaking, they are pretty much done, they figured out what they needed to and then had to be kept around for plot.

    And do completely agree on the point about characters being cogs in the story machine, we are on the same page about how all that stuff works, which I love by the way. I think for me the hang up just comes that the change in Luke to what he becomes, that part he is used to serve in TLJ isn't strongly clarified, and for my part it needed to be. It by far not the only fault in that film for me, I think it's just the loudest to me, because as I admitted and as you called out, I'm a Luke fan. But there was stuff I think that could have been done that would have fixed it to make that work in that film. However, as you said all these movies are riddled with lots of different issues.

    That is actually probably where my true hang ups come from, there are other story/structure issues there and I'm just latching onto the thing that is loudest to me. Feel similar to what I think went on with PT movies, well TPM at least. People end up saying the issues are Jar Jar and too much CGI throughout the film, when I think it's actually issues with the story being a bit of a mess, getting a little lost in world/plot stuff rather then character narrative. And then people call out the stuff that is loudest to them. Though to be fair, people called it out for plot stuff also, maybe the Jar Jar and CGI crowd were yelling louder...

    I def relate to not being a fan of downer endings, I appreciate them when they are done well, but yeah they are a bit difficult to, you know, enjoy them lol.
     
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  7. eeprom

    eeprom Prince of Bebers

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    That’s more or less where I was coming from when referencing them. I love the OT, but (taken as a whole) is hardly an example of immaculate storytelling. It has its own myriad of picadilloes we all just sort of gloss over and absently accept because its sum is greater than its parts. The ST isn’t much more removed from that. It has its own peaks and valleys, but mostly stitches together pretty well (I prefer my metaphors mixed, not stirred :D). It’s maybe not as stellar as it probably had the potential to be, but it did its job. A couple decades from now, once perspective has set in, I reckon it’ll be viewed much more favorably as a self-contained story that adequately doubles as the conclusion to a larger one.

    As far as consistency in the Luke character, you have to look at the figure’s principle motivator: his father. His stated goal at the start of his journey was to model himself after the heroic figure he believed the man to have been. That perspective is massively challenged when he discovers the truth of what his father became. The danger looming over Luke from that point forward was whether he indeed would become like his father and fall as he had. The Luke character reaches catharsis though when he decides to become the man he believed his father to be beneath the mask - the one he could be again.

    TLJ takes that thread and pushes it forward. Luke, like his father, committed an irredeemable sin out of a self-serving fear of loss. He too, lost his faith and was inclined to persist in a state of suffering and self-loathing, convinced any option for deliverance was out of reach. He too, had to reawaken that spirit of youthful optimism, to reclaim his identity as a heroic protector, and commit one last deed of unselfish defense in grand altruistic fashion. Finally resting with serene peace and purpose knowing he’d done what he’d needed to do as his true self.

    In the end, Luke did become his father. Not as egregious or horrific of course, but he followed that same arc from damnation to redemption. Bringing that 'like my father before me' theme full circle. I have no problem acknowledging anyone’s criticism over how well it was ultimately executed in the feature, but as far as being faithful to the character and his personal struggle, it’s pretty f**king solid writing.
     
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  8. Jayson

    Jayson Resident Lucasian

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    If you haven't, I would highly suggest reading the Making of Books by J.W. Rinzler (which, frustratingly, appear to be unavailable for Kindle at the moment - they are far cheaper in Kindle than hard or paperback). ROTJ's book really opens a lot up into insights on why things do what they do because of the nature of the story and it's position.

    ANH is not very well put together in script, though.
    It became cobbled together by lots of hard and frustrated work of several people, with Lucas at the helm, still monkeying with it while it was out in theaters - literally calling Hamill while people were lined up around blocks to come down for dubbing. It's a mad film.

    And the reason that it works narratively is a lot to do with cinematics and theatrics.
    Pay attention to the light in ANH. It's very purposeful as to what's happening with the light throughout the film. Just in terms of light and dark.
    Now add to that the ever slowly shrinking elbow room as the film progresses, causing a sort of edged feeling of being more and more into the film - starting on huge landscapes, then battle station rooms, then one-man star ship cockpits, then those ships are flying into a trench so not even our ship movement is restricted, and then inside of their cockpits they're looking at a screen that has the trench on it ever zeroing in on one point of interest.

    Big to narrow. Light to dark.
    And that's narrative as well. Big wide world, laser focused on Luke.
    They go hand-in-hand.

    Also, with ESB and ROTJ, give it a little forgiveness by context.
    Keep in mind that the idea of a pre-planned trilogy serial narrative whereby the character has an arc crossing three films wasn't a thing.
    Having a trilogy was marginally a thing that happened some times, but it was rarely planned out like a single film in terms of conceptual arcs.

    They were usually more single film arcs that were good entirely on their own, and didn't need anything else, but could be added to in sequels if wanted.

    And they are specifically written as one film, Star Wars' trilogies.

    That was the original kind of grand experiment behind Star Wars that, once Lucas knew he was able to do more, he was willing to dive into from his back burner.

    I'm just going to say this to get it said: Luke is not the point of the story. He's supporting cast like Han and Leia.
    I know that's really hard for a Luke fan to hear, but it's the truth. Luke's not the important figure here.
    He's the important figure to Rey.

    Look at films for why they do what they do, rather than what could be done to fix things. It's more fun, and a better education.
    If something's wrong to you, try to figure out the earnest and good reason quality artists did things this way.

    The main reason anyone hates the PT, the primal reason that triggers any other, is that they move wrong cinematically.
    They move slowly in the camera and characters are extremely distanced from the lens - just look at the Maul fight. This is a saber fight and at least twice in that fight all three characters take up around 5% of the screen space.

    The plot is actually perfectly lined up. It moves like clockwork and ticks along just fine. The only thing Jar Jar kind of got a bit mixed up is that Keeton and Lloyd are good because their antics are played straight - not daft.
    It's the difference between "Airplane!" and "Scary Movie". If you make Goofy play Keeton or Lloyd roles, you get Jar Jar, and basically Goofy is playing Keeton and Lloyd films in classic Disney cartoon serials, and it works for cartoons, but it's about juxtaposition - it's a bit awkward, though not terrible, to put a live action Goofy next to a sci-fi Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon atmosphere.

    It's not a bad idea, it's just a very challenging idea and hard to pull off in a universal way.
    LOADS of children love the character. Lots of folks who were kids when it came out love it.

    But what really pushes the PT to be a challenge for lots of folks is that they are cinematically driven by an engine that hasn't been in circulation for over 60 years.
    To some, that feels magical and special, while to others it feels slow and boring.

    Once that itch goes the wrong way, everything else falls apart.
    If you approach Star Wars from a narrative point of view, you'll do yourself a disfavor in learning. Lucas didn't think the narrative was the most important part of film. It's not what his primary focus was, so you'll miss out on why the narrative does things if you only look at it that way.

    You'll also miss how a narrative serves the medium, which Lucas' films are adept at showing.
    That's one thing that Star Wars continues to do well, actually, and it's part of why the Tatooine scene still works by and large in TROS - because Star Wars, as wonderful as that narrative may be at times, is really a narrative that serves to showcase the medium of cinema.
    They aren't films that exist to tell a story. They're films that exist to show one.

    There is an entire galaxy of a difference between those two ideas.

    Cheers,
    Jayson
     
    #388 Jayson, Jan 5, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  9. The Birdwatcher

    The Birdwatcher Rebel Official

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    I just mean that the idea of Luke reacting violently impulsive toward someone threatening the people he loves, isn’t something wholly new that TLJ brought to the table. It’s a regrettably negative trait the character was already established to possess. Maybe it could have been presented a bit clearer in the film, maybe it could have been better "earned", but it’s not coloring outside the lines. RJ was playing fair. Emotional attachment is both Luke's greatest strength and his greatest weakness.

    Exactly. The scene itself with Luke in the hut (besides referencing Rashomon and Lancelot Arthurian legends), is a combination of Luke's fears of the vision in TESB and how his friends could die [would die in this case] and ROTJ kill mode. Fans take issue with the kill mode, and this is because I think I have found out- that unlike TESB, where morality was ambiguous, with an emphasis still on good and evil- but with difficulty or struggle to discern between the two, Return is a return to good and evil, and takes stuff from TESB about inevitable destiny and how Luke's destiny is to become evil like his father and rule as successor at the Emperor's right hand. The theme of inevitable destiny- the film presents this lingering fear (which is present in Empire, but Empire handles it better by having Luke, despite his struggles, stand for the right thing) to present the idea that Luke may turn to the dark side. I think it's there to fool the audience, actually- or to create tension- specifically before and during the throne room scenes. There is also the presentation of Luke in black clothes, his "wise-guy" attitude (probably trying to be an imitation of Obi-Wan? or the idea of a Jedi???), acting cruel or crazy in front of Jabba [I.e. "That's the last mistake that you'll ever make", etc.], and disregard for other characters that places Return of the Jedi's Luke in respect to Empire's Luke. The plot is forcing this guy to become dark as a result of making tension. This "forcing of Luke to turn dark" to such an extreme degree (weirdly over small reasons that Luke could ignore or has experiences that contradict them) is referenced in TLJ to honor its legacy and to "fit" in Luke's entire character, since Return is needed to be respected. However, this has had consequences for the fanbase, especially since they revere "the climatic moment of ROTJ"), where Luke makes his claim to the light side- there is no TESB ambiguity here, with an emphasis of doing good through a struggle or making mistakes but still being a good person- it's do it or you're messed up. Yes, Luke makes a mistake by trying to "kill him", but the film treats this as a shift towards the dark side.

    People will complain about any of modern Star Wars, but Lucas still forces the plot where he needs to in the old days, even. "Subverting expectations"- trademark, isn't what Rian Johnson does, as much as George Lucas- if I dare claim it.
     
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  10. Martoto

    Martoto Rebel Official

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    I think people overlook the key to why it makes sense and why Johnson assumed its depiction would be understood by audiences.

    In The Force Awakens, we were shown what a force induced vision is really like for the person experiencing it. It's almost akin to putting on the ring of power or looking into the palantir. Rey was virtually transported to different spaces and times. She had to avoid obstacles, steady herself as the ground heaved up beneath her and evade strange pursuers. All instinctively as the different scenes and sounds raced by in succession too quickly to rationally comprehend. By the time it was over, Rey found herself fully out the door of the chamber where she found the lightsaber. Some twenty feet away from where she started.

    Now when people try to argue that TLJ depicts Luke trying to or considering/contemplating the murder of his sleeping nephew I ask them if Rey tried to or was contemplating fleeing and landing on her butt twenty feet away when she looked into that box and then inspected the saber that was within it. Becuase that's where she realised she was when she had come to her senses.

    Rather than stop the movie to show another force vision subjectively, Johnson let us hear the echoes of what Luke was experiencing while showing us the terror, confusion and anguish on his face. By the time he's come out of his vision and come to his senses ("back in the room" as they say), it's already too late.
     
    #390 Martoto, Jan 21, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
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  11. Mosley909

    Mosley909 Rebel Official

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    While I think I'm more forgiving of Rise of Skywalkers shortcomings than most because I think for the most part it's a fun ride despite it being a bit messy. The ending didn't really do it for me.

    I personly would have prefered it ending with the hug between Finn Poe and Rey. Going back to a place Luke couldn't wait to get away from and by the looks of things hadn't been back to, it felt more like they were doing it as it was iconic to the franchise rather than the characters.
     
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  12. eeprom

    eeprom Prince of Bebers

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    I wish they’d played with the idea a bit more, but something new the sequels brought was the concept that the young characters themselves are also ‘fans’. Like us, Rey (presumably) grew up with the stories of Luke Skywalker. It’s super vague just how much detail she had, but it’s possible it’s somewhat comparable to ours. The Lars Homestead then is just as iconic to her character as it is to us and the franchise.

    Just a thought :)
     
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  13. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Jedi Contrarian

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    That's why Rey and Luke's relationship in TLJ works so well to me. It's the story of younger fans interacting with older, jaded, "no one hates Star Wars more than Star Wars" gatekeeper fans. Luke's talk about "the sacred texts" is how EU fans talk about Canon, and how things should be instead of how things are or could be.

    This part...not so much. The Lars Homestead never felt iconic to me. Sure, the architecture was iconic, but that wasn't unique to the homestead. They show that architecture in TPM and The Mandalorian, and I get the same feels there. The duel sunsets are iconic, but TLJ showed us that we didn't need Tatooine to get that "two suns" feeling. Luke had no sentimental value attached to the Lars Homestead, so neither do we as an audience.

    And that's a thing I just thought of (so thank you for sparking this thought!) - symbolism in movies is different from symbolism in real life. In real life, we ascribe meaning to a place where one was raised or where we see their proverbial journey as beginning, regardless of how they may have felt about it. Shakespeare's childhood house - or what is believed to be it - is a good example of this. We prescribe meaning and symbolism and evocative weight to something that Shakespeare may or may not have even cared about. And that's fine, because it means something for us.

    But movies are always like real life, and the meanings aren't always the same. In movies, we care because our heroes or protagonists care. If we know the characters don't care about something, we don't care. John Wick cared about his wife, so we care when anything related to his wife is taken away from him. Captain America cares about Peggy Carter, so we care when things related to Peggy show up. Tony Stark has ambivalent feelings about his father, so we too have ambivalent feelings.

    On the flip side, if our heroes don't care about something, we don't care. Steve doesn't like the Sokovia Accords, so we don't like them. Luke doesn't feel any particular way about Tatooine, so revisiting it to ascribe meaning that we know isn't felt creates a sense of dissonance.

    This isn't to say that characters aren't allowed to change their minds about things, but that change usually comes with a level of understanding from the audience that "things are different" or "things will have consequences." To use the John Wick example again (I just watched the third movie last night so it's on my mind): in the first movie, John obeys the rules of the Continental Hotel, setting up that even someone as cold-blooded as John isn't above certain things. And the movie shows the consequences of breaking those rules. In John Wick: Chapter Two, John breaks a pivotal rule at the Continental Hotel, which more or less ruins his life going into the third movie. And we know this because of how things were set up in the first movie.

    Luke's feelings about Tatooine never changed...at least not on-screen, which is a pivotal point here. His last major lines about it were to Han claiming that he was born here and that there's really nothing on the planet. No positive feelings, not fond reflection...nothing. So when this scene supposedly honoring the legacy of the Skywalkers doesn't really honor them because it's not about THEM but about US* and it doesn't even work in the first place...well, it's clear why it didn't work for me.**


    *This is a whole different can of worms that I don't want to get into, but let's just say that this sort of thing (using the excuse of others to honor or preserve the self) is quite common in media and real life.
    **This really doesn't hold water IMO, given that Rey could just as easily ask Luke and Leia where they'd want their lightsabers to be buried. And I can't imagine either of them saying Tatooine.
     
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  14. eeprom

    eeprom Prince of Bebers

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    Except the point-of-view character in that sequence isn’t Luke. It’s Rey. It’s all about how she feels about that location. What sentimental attachment she might feel about it having grown up hearing the legends.

    Ostensibly, she can ‘be with me’ Luke or Leia anytime she feels like it. She doesn’t need to go on any sort of ‘pilgrimage’ to pay her respects. She can do it right to their transparent faces. What she’s doing then is really for her own benefit, not theirs.

    It’s a symbolic gesture for the sake of symbolism alone, where she’s closing one chapter in her life and starting a new one. She’s ending this leg of the journey where (she perceives at least) it began. Then marches off toward the literal ‘dawning of a new day’ - reverential of the past while forging her own destiny.

    What Luke or Leia may or may not feel about her choice of location isn’t all that crucial to the intent. No, Luke probably doesn’t particularly care much about Tatooine. And Leia certainly less so. But Rey, I think we’re supposed to assume, does. It’s important to her to do what she did and I can’t imagine, as her mentors, they wouldn’t have respected that.

    That’s just my interpretation though. If that’s truly what Terrio and Abrams were going for, they could have reinforced that element a bit better.
     
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  15. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Jedi Contrarian

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    Except it's not about Rey, it's about the audience and their attachment to the place. Rey didn't need to be on Tatooine to know about Luke's legends or do any honoring aspect.

    That's not how JJ functions though. JJ never does symbolism for symbolism alone, especially in Star Wars. If there's a symbolic gesture, it's either a shout-out/reference to something else or a nostalgic throw back. On it's own this isn't a bad thing, since it's more or less saved and/or revitalized three separate franchises. But it it does mean that we have a noticeable M.O. and method to compare TROS against, and it stays true to that.

    Besides why would she end a new chapter in a place that doesn't mean anything to her? That's the part you're going to have to sell me on - why does Tatooine mean anything to Rey? What value does she visibly attach to the place? Why does this chapter of her life ending on Tatooine mean anything to her? If we needed to end in a desert, why not end where we started on Jakku? Or Pasana, since that was just introduced (which I still have issues with)?

    That's fair, and I definitely agree with the reinforcement part!
     
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  16. Jayson

    Jayson Resident Lucasian

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    I'm not, in this, arguing for or against TROS' use of Tatooine, nor am I going to say that you're conventionally wrong - as nearly any writing course you take will take up the position you're outlining here.

    But...

    This isn't absolutely true in cinema.

    For example, German Expressionist, Soviet Montage, Cinema Verite, Nouvelle Vague, and even a batch of New Hollywood cinema are packed with symbolism and meaning that is unique to the viewer and the film and not at all to the characters within the film.

    To say nothing of nearly the entire genre of horror where places and things mean literally, and needfully, nothing to the characters but immediately mean everything to the audience. Horror films are almost constantly having private conversations between the film and the audience that the protagonists are completely unaware of.

    There's a great quote from Hitchcock on the meanings conveyed uniquely between the audience and the film outside of the meaning and knowledge of the protagonists.
    "There is a distinct difference between "suspense" and "surprise," and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I'll explain what I mean.

    We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let's suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, "Boom!" There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o'clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: "You shouldn't be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!"
    -Hitchock, American Film Institute Seminar, 1970​

    This is just an easy show of the concept, but beyond horror and suspense...
    Think for a moment on Kubrick, for one. Tarkovsky, for another. Terry Gilliam, for yet another. And as a stop among a longer list, David Fincher.

    Star Wars, coming from Lucas - a man steeped in all of this, is equally unique in American blockbuster cinema on this note because it embraced so thoroughly the relationship of the conversation between the film and the audience in terms of symbolism and meaning.

    Arguably, this started long before Star Wars for Lucas. His college films are almost consumed by it entirely, and THX's criticisms essentially boil down to it being far too overly interested in this endeavor over telling a story.

    Where Star Wars is unique is, in one respect, it was as if Lucas was taking those criticisms from THX and fixing it.
    As if to say, "Fine, but I will find a way to blend the two worlds together, da*n you."

    And he really did.
    It's filled to the brim with things that are meaningful to us as an audience that mean nothing to the characters (which probably lent to some of its criticisms early on).

    Obi Wan, as a somewhat weaker example, means worlds more to us than he means to any character in the film.
    We recognize Obi Wan almost immediately. Hello Merlin. So, tell us the secrets of the world you old crazy wizard!

    Further, the X-Wing, for example, almost immediately contained within it a pile of symbolism quite intentionally (and in some ways, very consciously avoided other symbolisms that were a struggle to avoid), but those meanings meant nothing to anyone in the film.
    It was the symbol of liberation and youth. It was very specifically designed to emulate a dragster - an extremely common icon of the je ne sais quois of youthful brass revolt and its wild abandon of freedom.

    This was very specific and not left to chance.
    Everything was designed that way.

    Nazis mean nothing to anyone in Star Wars, but anything remotely similar in design and form to Nazis means quite a lot almost immediately to the audience.
    And running the trench like The Dam Busters absolutely meant nothing to the characters in the film, but it was a very prescient communication to the audience as to what this sequence was in meaning to the characters in the film.

    Now, Star Wars was interesting because it looped the private conversation between the film and the audience into conventional narrative values of having meanings that mattered to the characters birth the symbolisms that were part of that private conversation as well as having the private meanings for the audience influence the understanding of the meanings of things to characters in the film.
    That was, through a hell of a lot of hard stressful work, how Lucas "fixed" THX's problems with symbolism and the private conversation with the audience.

    In a nutshell, Star Wars went about communication as:
    "This is to them, as this is to you.", rather than just, "This is to them, so it is to you."

    Where it gets interesting as a discussion of art, I think, when it comes to TROS and the Tatooine scene is in regards to self-referenced symbolism for the private conversation to convey the meaning of something's value to a character in the film as a thing means to us as an audience.

    That's a head-spinner.
    I don't believe there is a right or wrong answer here. It's an interesting artistic approach that works for some and doesn't for others, but I think the use of it is fascinating because it's rare.

    Films often have private conversations with the audience outside of protagonists. Films often thematically refrain other films for privately conveying the meaning of something for the characters to the audience.
    But films rarely reference their own self in a private conversation with the audience to convey the meaning of something for the characters to the audience because of the audience's relationship to the linear position of the moment in the film.

    We'll call this a "Private Token".
    It's like a rock you pick up from the beach to remind you of the time there, and in so doing, you create a private meaning between you and that rock.

    Yes, you have Lawrence of Arabia looking at the knife in mirrored manners as a private conversation with the audience that could satisfy this kind of element.
    But it's not because the reason it's happening in Lawrence of Arabia isn't because it's the 2/3rds mark point of the film.

    That's where TROS gets interesting. It's creating a private token because it's the end of the film of the last film in a film series.

    You're not wrong. I'm not saying that. I am saying, I think it's a far more interesting and complex topic than the conventional stance on film narrative language which you correctly cite.

    Cheers,
    Jayson
     
    #396 Jayson, Jan 21, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
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  17. eeprom

    eeprom Prince of Bebers

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    I believe it’s supposed to be both. Rey reveres the myth of Luke in a similar way the audience (supposedly) does. Something noted when TFA was first released is how much the character operates as an audience insert. She finds herself, in a way we theoretically would want, playing a pivotal role in this fantastical world she’s only heard stories of.

    It’s a wish fulfillment fantasy. One a lot of fans can relate to. So, the scene operates as both. Closure for us and closure for her, in similar but pointedly distinct ways.
    Because she’s Rey Skywalker. She’s purposefully continuing on that legacy. She’s now inexorably linked, by desire, to that heritage and that past. She’s beginning her individual journey as a Skywalker in the same place that Luke did.

    I get that it doesn’t land with a lot of folks. I’m not all that in love with it either. But when I take the metatextual layer out, set that aside, and really scrutinize it from a purely character driven and thematic place, it tracks pretty well for me. It’s not nearly as shallow or shameless as it seems on the surface.
     
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  18. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Jedi Contrarian

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    That's the wrong type of reverence! What Rey is doing by doing this is exactly what TLJ was trying to warn us about. She's idolizing the past, revering Luke and his journey in ways that aren't necessarily about or for him. She's using his story incorrectly and ascribing that meaning to her life. That's the whole problem - it's not honoring the characters or the fans any service. It's like what Kylo Ren was doing to Vader at the beginning of the ST.

    You know what, that's a fair take. Still doesn't land, but I'll accept it. The downside to this take is that it now makes the Skywalker name more important than Rey herself, which it turn goes back to how this moment isn't for Rey.

    I don't think it's shallow, I just think it's poorly done and a disservice on top of that.
     
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  19. RoyleRancor

    RoyleRancor Car'a'Carn

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    I can't *imagine* why JJ Abrams of all people would put a special emphasis on last names being important and valuable to people in the climb through the world

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/20/arts/design/jj-abrams-spider-man-comic-book.html
     
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  20. eeprom

    eeprom Prince of Bebers

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    The moral I took from TLJ was: while we shouldn’t allow the past to dictate our future, we also shouldn’t discard it either. It has value. It has resonance. It has faults too, but we should learn from all aspects and use it to build something better.

    I honestly feel the ending of TROS was trying to be in line with that theme. She's literally leaving the past behind while bringing a changed part of it with her. Like so much else in that film though, it didn’t quite connect all those dots right to properly make the picture. But if I squint, I can see it.
    What the Rey character wanted more than anything else, what was propelling her through the narrative, was her desire to belong. To be a part of something. To have identity and worth. The Skywalker name is representative of that. She was a nobody from nowhere with nothing and no one. Now she’s Rey Skywalker, the last Jedi - inheritor of a legacy a thousand generations old and a beacon of hope for the whole galaxy. That’s one hell of an achieved goal :)
     
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