Thursday, 19 May 2011

Light in the dark

Another video, with a connection of sorts to the last. This time the Star Wars prequels, which I also have little to say about in general. Another of those complex subjects.

Recently though I had a chance to watch certain scenes again, and rediscovered an effective sequence, part of the 'duel' between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan and Darth Maul.

It starts at 1:48 and runs through to 4:08. In my view what goes on in that 140 seconds falls down only for the not-quite-perfect acting - luckily just one word is used - as well as a lack of identification with the characters, and maybe one or two odd movements.

On the upside, we get some good characterisation, well chosen shots, spaces that play a role, and references to the wider narrative I'm willing to believe were thought through.

At any rate, however well or badly the individual elements work in the context of the film, prequel trilogy and entire series, I do think the sequence as a whole deserves praise. To my mind too its overall minimalism is a good route in to a critique of the larger project.

It's 12 years today. It was a moment in many of our lives. What do you think?



Auberoun said...

The only time I watch the SW prequels is for the duels...and in Episode III, from the second Anakin turns to the Dark Side on is pretty "ok".

scottsz said...

I know there's a lot of 'prequel hate' in the nerd-o-sphere, but I loved Episode I and Ray Park as Maul absolutely blew me away.

Darth Vader was fearsome, but that fight scene with Maul (and the pod race) was worth the price of the ticket for me!

The Angry Lurker said...

Darth Maul was a breath of fresh quite air in a not quite good trilogy.

thekelvingreen said...

That little part of that little sequence is about the only part of that film I liked. I love the way Maul paces about like a literally caged tiger. Very effective.

Porky said...

@ Auberoun - I'll take that on trust, not having watched it through in a long time. I will say that while the final battle is pretty silly, and Jar Jar Binks could have written the political analogy better, the burning alive did come across as properly horrific. The concept of the fall is maybe just too grand for mainstream cinema as it is these days to deal with.

@ scottsz - I find Darth Maul a lot creepier now than I did back then, which is odd. I think he would have worked better with more subtle make-up and prostheses, and that the menace is all in the age, silence and calm. Again, I'll take the pod race on trust without a full review, but I remember it as visceral and very exuberant.

@ The Angry Lurker - I'm guessing that if I watched them all again today I might feel worse about the big picture, but happier about certain details, and aspects of Darth Maul would probably be some of those.

@ kelvingreen - Exactly. The body language of the three is simple, but really brings out character, and the contrast between the pacing and meditation is electrifying. So is Obi-Wan coming through that final portal.

scottsz said...

@kelvingreen: Totally agree - the pacing like a tiger really pushed it over the top.

@Porky: You know... you're right. He's like a frigging Japanese warrior demon.

Come to think of it, I haven't seen Return of the Jedi in years - I found the Ewoks spooky back then... can't imagine how creepy it all is now.

Porky said...

The last time I watched any of the original trilogy carefully was years ago and I'd bet the same. Age really does bring features of a thing out, and makes it possible to understand it on more levels too. I imagine we'd find them surprisingly fresh now, and spot references we might not have done then.