Urban Cinefile
"There was a certain kind of joy in the way that the Martians just come and smash everything up. "  -Jonathan Gems, writer, Mars Attacks!
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Saturday February 1, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Thereís more to storytelling than a bunch of SFX, says Andrew L. Urban, and thereís less science fiction in Star Wars than you think.

Itís a great scene in star Wars: a band whose members resemble your worst trip on hash, jam it up with great soul. In the cacophony of that intergalactic bar, what you hear is black American music: jazz is what they play. And on the four CDs that make up the ultimate music collection of Star Wars (and that includes a whole CD of music NOT used in the trilogy), the music is sophisticated European orchestral, thanks to Australian composer John Williams.

What am I driving at? Simply this: the musical references that play such an integral part in our reception of film - even Star Wars - are all well coded into our psyche. George Lucas did not ask Williams to invent a new musical idiom or to attempt a music of the intergalactic future for Star Wars. Lucas and Williamson agreed to go to the very roots of our western cultural heritage. If you listen to Williamsí stunningly orchestrated music away from the film, youíll readily appreciate its heroic grandeur and sense its power. That music has as much to do with our total immersion in the world that Star Wars creates as Michael Nymanís score did with The Piano. Both scores work at our subconscious, in tandem with the images.

All this is by way of suggesting that Star Wars is only superficially science fiction: it is really about the deepest of human values. It is about good against evil, about heroism and loyalty, about honour and courage: it is about moral responsibility. Good grief, I hear you say. Well, have a look (again?) and form you own opinion. And share your views with us in due course.

The setting is crucial only because Lucas has created a fairy story and a fairy story needs a magical setting. Instead of dragons, castles and an old fashioned princess, he gave us a Force with good and evil sides, the mystery of "outer space", fantastic vehicles, devices and dangerous new powers - and an old fashioned princess.

We like to imagine that we all can live up to the moral of a good fairy story, and in Star Wars we can do our dreaming to new sensations and new images. All with old fashioned (deep seated) values.

Email this article

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020