Sunday, January 22, 2012

Star Wars Uncut

Not a Star Wars fan? I suggest that you skip this post.

This is about Star Wars Uncut, Director's Cut.  It's a remake of Star Wars, A New Hope, which (chronologically, at least) was the first Star Wars movie.  Star Wars, of course, is the saga that made George Lucas into a billionaire, made Harrison Ford into such a big star he never had to learn another part, and ended the career of Mark Hamill.

This version was produced by crowdsourcing.  Someone split the original movie into 15-second long segments. Then they let just anyone pick a segment and film it again, using any style, any technique, any actors, any props, any reference, anything they could think of.  All the segments were then reassembled into the full movie.  And you can watch it on the web. 

The final result probably won't make a lick of sense if you aren't familiar with the original.  But if you are a fan and you enjoy pop culture mashups which are so intensely mashed that they border on chaos, then you will love watching this.  I did.  I even burned it onto a DVD and inflicted it on Leslie. (Sadly, she was not impressed.)

In this era of SOPA and PIPA (along with other past and future attempts by a few big corporations to own all of popular culture for the purpose of maximizing their own profits), this movie is an object lesson of how the widely available inexpensive technologies (like video and Internet which have transformed our lives since Star Wars appeared in 1977) let people take their favorite stories and make them grow.  Okay, maybe "grow" is not the right word.  "Mutate" would a better description.

Lots of people spent a lot of time doing this because they love this story.  Star Wars owes a large part of its popularity to the fact that it deals human-scale themes like adventure, honor, religion and love.  It paints these onto a vast galaxy-sized canvas of space travel, alien cultures and high technology.  Throw in revolution and politics, pitting a few good people against evil corporate governments.  Like Lord of the Rings, it is a Ring Cycle of our times, one with actual inspiration for living humans. 

John William's music is in evidence throughout this movie.  In fact, it forms a familiar touchpoint that glues this mess together.  Only few sections parody the music one way or another.

To give you a flavor of just how diverse the art direction of this movie is, I've assembled a few random screen grabs of the two droids - R2D2 and C3PO - into this photomontage.  It's a small sampling of the vast visual variation to which every character is subjected.

(click the picture for an enlargement)

To reference another science fiction classic (that would be The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy) when watching this you should Expect the Unexpected.  Check out variety of methods used to recreate Princess Leia's hair buns.  Or Obiwon's beard.

Here's a picture of the initial entrance of Darth Vader with her four sexy storm troopers as they strut and pose high fashion style onto the captured rebel vessel.  (Notice that their blasters are really hair dryers.)

(don't waste your time clicking this one)

That's enough movie review for now.  Go ahead - watch it!

Or go to Vimeo or YouTube to watch.

If you have ever considered recreating the Star Wars movie using animated ASCII characters ... Sorry, someone has beaten you to it. Visit ASCIIMATION. (Only half the movie, but still an impressive waste of time.)

A previous MM article about Space Opera.

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