Day: April 15, 2017

‘The Last Jedi’ Movie Preview from Celebration, Orlando: Ending the Vico Cycle philosophically

IMG_4424I cover a lot of Star Wars news because, as I’ve said before, it’s the best mythological tool that the human race has right now—which sets it clearly apart from other movies.  It’s special and even though Star Wars these days is made by people who likely voted for Hillary Clinton 100%–the people who work at Lucasfilm are the best in the business of making movies on a commercial-scale.  The stories of Star Wars clearly extend beyond modern politics.  I think they are extremely important to our status as a culture on planet earth.  So I pay close attention to Star Wars and enjoy very much when they have their Celebration activities.   It just so happens that this year Celebration is in one of my favorite cities in the world—Orlando, and I find it creatively refreshing to hear the latest news from the Star Wars universe.  And this year, there was a lot of news, some of which is shown below.  But the biggest news was the release of the movie trailer for the next film due out this Christmas.

I’ve loved Star Wars most of my life—it actually opened a lot of doors for me.  I completely understand that Star Wars was intended for 12-year-old children, but in a lot of ways that part of me is still very much alive.  Even if I didn’t have grandkids, and my own kids didn’t still love Star Wars, I’d spend a considerable amount of time enjoying the art and ideas that come out of the Star Wars stories.  I understand why George Lucas made the films and what his source material was and I plunged myself into that world quite dramatically, not as the 12-year-old material for which became Star Wars, but the great literature of James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Joseph Campbell and many great literary figures for which Star Wars was based—including the Holy Bible. Star Wars for me was the gateway to much more serious literature and it has enhanced my life greatly.   So I’m quite open for my joy toward all things Star Wars.

Specifically, what I see in this new trailer for the film that is called The Last Jedi, is a philosophic contemplation on ending the Vico Cycle which is something that was heavily featured in the great literary classic Finnegan’s Wake.  I talk about the Vico Cycle a lot, because our present civilization is at one of those points in our history, so it doesn’t at all surprise me that Star Wars is addressing that very challenging philosophic concept.  George Lucas always said that if there were more Star Wars movies beyond Episode 6 that he’d deal with the philosophic challenges of the life battle between pairs of opposites.  It’s a motif that is as old as human civilization—probably longer.  So yes, Star Wars is all about making movies for kids—but there is more to them than that.  Adults could learn a lot too.

Obviously Han Solo is my favorite character and there is a lot of that guy in me. I saw Star Wars 40 years ago with my parents as a third grader and it stuck with me—especially the character of Han Solo.  I knew that was who I wanted to be when I grew up—and that is largely what happened.  As it turned out, I’m a lot smarter than Han Solo, but I can certainly relate to him.  For my recent 49th birthday my youngest daughter made me the picture featured above, which is what she does.  She’s a marvelous illustrator and this picture of Han Solo fighting it out with stormtroopers using dual pistols is an original picture that can’t be found anywhere else and to me it was quite an astonishing work of art.  She knows I’m excited for the new Han Solo movie coming up within a year or so, where the character is much younger—so she made the picture as a tribute to a much younger Han Solo.  As I’ve said many times also, Han Solo is essentially an Ayn Rand character within Star Wars—and that’s why he’s so popular.  George Lucas may have wanted to have Han transform into a compassionate human being by the end of the series, but the best elements of Han Solo are his Ayn Rand hero traits of acting out of self-interest.  And that is the brilliance of Star Wars—lots of competing ideas can fit into the storytelling and still have a role to play because they are grounded in historical motifs specific to the human race.

When Luke Skywalker says that it’s time for the Jedi to end—he’s talking about a very large idea of taking mankind beyond the pairs of opposites battle that has always been a part of our culture from the beginning. I’ve been thinking about that for a very long time because it is essentially the Vico Cycle, theocracy, aristocracy, democracy, anarchy then rebirth.  And that is a bigger concept than just making a movie for kids.  This stuff is important because it has the potential of taking us all to a new level—as a species.  It’s much more than just a movie or a way for Disney to make money.

For me it’s fun to see my grandkids getting into Star Wars because it at least gives me something to share with them.  My oldest grandson without a whole lot of encouragement has already gone to great lengths to learn all he can about it—which is a great way to have discussions about other topics.  During my birthday celebration, he couldn’t pull himself away from TV where I had Rogue One playing.  As a little boy the hand to hand battles with guns had his mind racing and he was running around the house pretending to shoot at invisible villains—which is very healthy and natural.  It’s a primal concern—especially with little boys.  I’ve spoken in the past also about the great little miracles that Nerf makes as far as Star Wars guns.  These are a lot better than what I grew up with and I have to say that my Han Solo Nerf Blaster is one of my favorite things that I play with around the house.  I will have countless hours of fun with my grandchildren shooting those things and if not for Star Wars—they wouldn’t exist.  The guns and action are part of the Star Wars experience.  Once you get into those, the deeper aspects of the stories become accessible, and if you really go down the rabbit hole—like I did—a whole new world of fresh ideas emerge—and that is a wonderful thing. Even though I’ve been hard on The Force Awakens, my favorite part of that movie is the Rathtar scene and when my grandson comes over he wants me to play the Lego game as Han Solo to beat the Rathtar level because the monsters are scary to him and he likes to see me defeat them.  He amazes me at all his observations even though he’s only four.

I’ve watched all the old Zorro movies and Flash Gordon serials that Star Wars was based on.  I’ve seen all the Akira Kurasawa movies that inspired the Star Wars movie, A New Hope.  But what George Lucas created and these new filmmakers at Lucasfilm under Disney’s ownership are doing is quite a lot more sophisticated.  I think most of the credit goes to Joseph Campbell than anybody—or even John Williams who has created so much wonderful symphonic music for our modern generations that Mozart and Beethoven aren’t even relevant any longer.  Our culture is much richer because of Star Wars than it otherwise would have been, and by the premise of the new movie, there is a lot to look forward to.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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