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Why I Choose Star Wars Over “Real” Life

Recently I had to choose which movie I was going to see. There was a variety of choices—war, a sex scandal, a generic action movie. Let me tell you what I seek from art: an experience of the ideal, a feeling of spiritual replenishment through the sight of human greatness. Now you know why I chose Star Wars. I will elaborate, quickly mentioning that, throughout this article, I’m drawing heavily on the aesthetic philosophy of Ayn Rand.

I do not seek out characters I can “relate to”, but I do seek out characters I understand, with the heroes’ greatness or the evil they vanquish on full, naked display. I do not seek out the everyday world, I see that every day. What I seek is Romanticism.

Do not tell me that the art of something like Star Wars is silly because “real life isn’t like that”. What Star Warsrepresents is real life, in essence. Star Wars represents the essential differences between good and evil, and does it with great consistency through each aspect of the film: in terms of the characters’ goals and actions, in terms of the characters’ looks, in terms of the characters’ dialogue, in terms of the music. Notice the colours of the villains: black suits and masks, fiery red lightsabers, the sterile uniformity of the stormtroopers or the lifeless grey of the Starkiller base. Notice the colours of the heroes: beautiful people wearing brighter and varicoloured clothing, blue lightsabers, their base amidst a lush forest. This is not a blind resort to a cliché; it is a subconscious pull towards one of the most important functions of art: to present the essentials of existence through a recreation of reality.

Marvel and Disney Vs. Martin Scorsese: How the Modern Studio System Is Impoverishing Cinema

This ongoing superhero movie debate isn’t about superhero movies. 

Before I continue, let me say I’m a fan of Marvel films. I think they’re fun to watch, moving, and well-made. I also think it’s entirely reasonable for us to have different categories of film. It would be off-base, for instance, for us to compare Endgame with Citizen Kane. They’re two entirely different styles of film, two entirely different cultural products. (I borrowed this metric from the late film critic Roger Ebert.) 

I don’t think this debate will die down anytime soon. I don’t think it should.

In Defense of The Mandalorian

Disney’s new live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian is taking a little heavy fire. Indiewire calls it a “$100 million show about nothing”. Robert Arrington here at Liberty Island dismissed it as a “a series of action sequences” taking place on megacity and desert planets, praising Downton Abbey as a better viewing choice.

But perhaps Mr. Arrington should have given The Mandalorian more of a chance – there has now been a lush green forest planet (though the mix of traditional subsistence farming and droid technology was more than a little unbelievable) and one episode set entirely in space. Six episodes in, this old-school Star Wars fan is pretty excited about what’s going on, and there are some good reasons for that.

Why Downton Abbey beats the The Mandalorian

Thanksgiving weekend brought, interspersed with the food, family visits and football games, my first round of holiday season film watching. In addition to the usual offerings from the Hallmark Channel, Netflix, and Amazon (which vary from quite good to stupid and silly), I began with a couple of films that are not exactly season-oriented, but that I’d been waiting to watch.

The first was not a feature film but a new TV show. We don’t have Disney Plus, but there has been a big buzz about The Mandalorian, the new Star Wars series centered around a bounty hunter from the planet Mandalore. So, when we visited my sister Audrey’s family for Thanksgiving morning breakfast, and they wanted me to watch the first episode, I readily agreed.