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I Have A Bad Feeling About This
2005-06-16 12:09
by Ken Arneson

Don't just stand there, blog something!

I didn't see any of the A's game last night.

I don't know you anymore! Arneson, you're breaking my heart! You're going down a path I can't follow!

I went to see the new Star Wars movie.

Arneson, my allegiance is to the Athletics, to baseball!

I'm taking the A's struggles as an opportunity to diversify my entertainment choices.

The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side.

On the whole, I enjoyed the film, despite some clear flaws.

Twisted by the Dark Side, young Arneson has become.

It's amazing how George Lucas can take good actors and make them look like amateurs.

The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.

Here's how I'd rank the acting of the major characters, from best to worst:

1. Yoda
2. Palpatine
3. Obi-Wan
4. Padme
5. Mace Windu
6. Organa
7. Anakin


I think the most disappointing thing is that this film (the whole series, really) could have been a truly great work of art where, as Salieri says about Mozart in Amadeus: "Displace one note and there would be diminishment, displace one phrase and the structure would fall." An artist blessed with the power of greatness could have accomplished so much more.

Is it possible to learn this power?

Not from George Lucas.

Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720-1!

Never tell me the odds.

You want the impossible.

A great work of art is not impossible. A championship team is not impossible. If you say "I don't believe it", that is why you fail.

There he is! He's still alive. Get me a medical capsule immediately!

Some of the players on the A's roster right now, like Ryan Glynn, who is pitching as I write this, are like those lines of wooden dialogue in Star Wars. They're displaceable notes. They don't contribute to the structure of a great work of art. When they find those right notes, when they have the right structure, then I'll be satisfied.

Another happy landing.

2005-06-16 19:24:11
1.   Kenny
Ken, check out Batman Begins. It won't let you down like Episode III did.

However the scene with Palpatine and Anakin where Palpatine was talking about how the Dark Side could preserve life was a very good scene.

2005-06-17 09:51:04
2.   TFD

I agree with much of what you say. However, and I don't remember the exact scene in Amadeus, but how do you get from - - "Displace one note and there would be diminishment, displace one phrase and the structure would fall," - - to "An artist blessed with the power of greatness could have accomplished so much more,"?

Wasn't he saying that Amadeus' compositions were indeed singular and genius in that without one aspect or note they would be somehow flawed because the genius of Mozart could be trusted down to the last note/stanza?

Surely you're right that Lucas has no such stature. His prose and handling of actors is incredibly clunky - - though Palpatine and ObiWan were very good.

But how do we get to the responsibility of his greatness?

2005-06-17 12:11:40
3.   Ken Arneson
TFD: The formula for making a great work of art is simple:
1. Understand what quality is, and
2. Insist on it.

The rest is just hard work.

Understanding and recognizing quality is the hard part. There's no coherent theory of art at the moment, so much of the ability to recognize quality comes mostly from intuition and experience. Some people will be better at it than others. Few will be perfect.

That's why it's rare to find an artist who doesn't need an editor. Mozart was one of them. Lucas isn't.

I think Lucas understands what quality is on a large scale, but I don't think he quite gets it at the detailed level of human interaction. Or if he does understand it, he's not insisting on it.

Episodes IV-VI were probably only as good as they were because Harrison Ford didn't say his lines the way they were written. He insisted on quality as he understood it, at his level, and functioned as an editor on the set. "I love you, too" becomes "I know." The down-to-earth character that Ford created held those films together.

There wasn't a Harrison Ford/Han Solo to do that for episodes I-III. That might have been because so much of those films were made in front of a blue screen, and the actors had no idea what the heck was really going on, so they weren't able to do the kind of self-editing that Ford did.

I mean, what's the point of having Samuel L. Jackson in your movie if you're not going to let him be Samuel L. Jackson? Mace Windu should have been one bad-ass Jedi. Why can't a Jedi be interesting and down-to-earth, too? Windu was boring as hell.

There's a recent Slate article about how Spielberg wanted to direct a Star Wars film, but Lucas never let him, for fear of Spielberg taking all the credit.

"The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side."

If Lucas had delegated the stuff he wasn't good at (dialogue, directing) to someone else, and concentrated on what he was good at (the overall vision, producing), it could have been an all-time great product, instead of merely good.

2005-06-17 13:21:25
4.   Kenny
After watching the prequels I have much more respect for the orignal trilogy (of which I already respect immensely).

I also like the paralells bewteen Anakin's slide to the Dark Side, trying to save Padme, and Luke's abandoning Yoda to save his friends in Cloud City. Both were risking evil to do good. It's just one got seduced by the evil and the other resisted.

2005-06-17 18:27:00
5.   Ken Arneson
Kenny, you could probably compare and contrast for days all the different themes running through the different Star Wars films. Those kinds of things are what Lucas does well: the big picture, the grand vision. And because the big picture is done so well, that makes it so much more disappointing to find that the small stuff is lacking in quality.
2005-06-17 23:20:18
6.   Matt Raley
I thought what you said about art and quality were interesting. Just re-read Pirsig's Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and now I'm about halfway through another one of his books, Lila. I love ZMM, but so far Lila is a bit of a disappointment. Pirsig has an interesting take on quality. It sounds like you might like his writing.
2005-06-18 08:59:07
7.   Tom

I think you've brought up some really good points, viz. Star Wars and that quote from Amadeus.

In addition to the "I know" line, I'd also like to add the great "Han shoots first" controversy. Talk about displacing one note.

2005-06-18 11:30:20
8.   Ken Arneson
I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance many years ago, and I what I remember about it was that he asked the right question, but didn't get the right answer. So while I loved the first 2/3 of the book, the last third felt like a waste.
2005-06-20 02:00:54
9.   Voxter
Throughout the three most recent movies, I kept thinking, "How is it that no one -- no one at all! -- has pulled Lucas aside and said, 'Hey, G, it might not be the best idea for you to write these yourself, bro'"? And then:


That was it. That was the pinnacle of that feeling. I had been laughing under my hand at every scene between and Padme up to that point (has anybody noticed that Anakin suddenly seems older than his cradle-robbing bride?), but when Darth Vader waved his arms feebly and called out, "Noooo!", I laughed out loud.

How is it that nobody, at any point, mentioned to George Lucas that such scenes were already the object of hilarity, years and years before he put it in his movie?


2005-06-21 08:14:13
10.   TFD
Ken: I;m with you, I just don't see your argument as to its implication with the Amadeus quote - - that's all.

One quibble...R2D2 led to much of the humanity in IV-VI. Han Solo was massively important, but I think the droid interaction between R2/C3PO & the humans really brought a light, humanistic quality that is missing from the prequels.

2005-06-21 17:01:57
11.   Ken Arneson
TFD, I don't think I get what you don't get, but whatever.

I think Lucas was planning to make Jar-Jar serve that "light, humanistic" function in I-III, but it obviously didn't work.

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