Saturday, May 28, 2005

Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith; Marlon Brando; Garet Garrett

A commenter recently asked for my opinion on Star Wars: ROTS. I haven't seen the movie, but I would like to comment on the politicization of the Star Wars series. [BTW, the commenter is a new blogger with the beginnings of a very good blog.] I have seen only two of the six movies in Lucas' series so I can't comment very specifically on ROTS. I am aware of the general theme of Republic vs. Empire that permeates the series. This writer's take on the Republic/Empire struggle is interesting, even though I disagree with it.

The story of a Republic turning in to an Empire is as old as Rome and as new as 20th century America. Those who missed that analogy through the first five movies know little of history. For Lucas to try to force feed the audience a clumsy analogy of Bush-as-emperor in the final movie is worse than superficial and silly.

For those interested in a true Republic/Empire saga, there is nothing better than Garet Garrett's "People's Pottage" a/k/a Ex America. Garrett writes the story of Roosevelt's New Deal in terms of an Empire replacing a Republic. The book is composed of three essays, the third of which is entitled, "The Rise of Empire." These essays were composed between 1938 and 1954. "People's Pottage" is essentially the Star Wars saga without the light sabers.

For the Roman version of the Republic/Empire saga, rent or buy Shakespeare's Julius Caesar:

[There are many versions of Julius Caesar, but the Brando version is the only one I have seen.] Brando's speech [as Marc Antony], in which he stirs the mob to violence through emotion, largesse and other cynical manipulation, is a masterpiece worthy of today's Democrats. These are the real methods by which would-be tyrants enslave free people. Today's movies pale in comparison.
update - Click here and here for detailed analysis of ROTS in the Republic v. Empire context. I think they miss the point, as does any attempt to argue history through fiction. This is especially true when nonfiction analysis of actual Republic/Empire sagas is available. Lucas' conception of a Republic is flawed and does not reflect the characteristics of a real Republic or the reasons for preserving or restoring it. A real Republic is always worth fighting for.

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