Star Wars

Published on Sep 5, 2014 Rare 1977 Alec Guinness Interview on Star Wars on Parkinson Talk Show Published on May 14, 2014 In this interview made in 1999 Bill Moyers discusses with George Lucas how Joseph Campbell and his concept … Continue reading

Published on Sep 5, 2014
Rare 1977 Alec Guinness Interview on Star Wars on Parkinson Talk Show

Published on May 14, 2014
In this interview made in 1999 Bill Moyers discusses with George Lucas how Joseph Campbell and his concept of the Monomyth also known as the Hero’s Journey and other concepts from Mythology and Religion shaped the Star Wars saga.

The original Star Wars is a mixture of 1950’s popular culture: the Wizard of Oz, Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress, Flash Gordon serials, and Westerns. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg took these influences and molded them into a fantasy epic to great success. Yet, what’s the essence of the success of the Star Wars franchise? What are the main motifs of the Original Trilogy that make the history compelling?

George Lucas, the creator of the franchise, is not of much helping explaining even the genesis of the story, let alone its cultural impact and significance. Lucas goes back and forth between claiming he had a grandiose vision of the whole thing from the beginning, to admitting he made Star Wars up as he went along. The Phantom Menace is more a reflection of Lucas inner demons than an extension of the original theme: Anakin and Darth Vader are self-insertion. Lucas trough his professional career searched for a balance between the light side of legacy and the dark side of merchandising and ended selling his soul to the White Slavers.

Lucas is the driving force behind the Star Wars mythology but A New Hope is great despite of him. He was a contributor among many.

I was coming out of my teens when I saw A New Hope for the first time. It was a successful movie but the big merchandising impetus really came with The Empire Strikes Back some years later. A New Hope was meant to be a B summer movie and George Lucas commercial drive is what propelled Star Wars into a Merchandising Empire.
Whatever makes A New Hope special cannot be found solely on the movie itself but in the social and historical moment when it appeared. Star Wars drove the cultural wave of oriental mysticism and martial arts just when they were taking the West by storm.
The new reboot by Disney just rips off the original story arc from A New Hope instead of breaking new ground: playing safe with their multibillion dollar investment.

The Force Awakens, a big budget Disney TV movie for Star Wars fans and a safe retragetting of Star Wars to new customers: children, girls in particular. The Force Awakens forces the plot and breaks consistency with the ending of Return of the Jedi by bringing the story line back to the beginning of A New Hope, and at the same time, pretending to be a continuation of the story by just relabeling things. The new elements are the perfect woman, and disregard of plot coherence in favor of continous action and simplicity. Why old fans find the new version acceptable is baffling. Maybe just old boys clinging to lost youth.

Poetry


A Mary Sue or Gary Stu or Marty Stu is an idealized fictional character, a young or low-rank person who saves the day through unrealistic abilities. Often this character is recognized as an author insert and/or wish-fulfillment.[1]

The term “Mary Sue” comes from the name of a character created by Paula Smith in 1973 for her parody story “A Trekkie’s Tale”[2]:15 published in her fanzine Menagerie #2.[3]The story starred Lieutenant Mary Sue (“the youngest Lieutenant in the fleet — only fifteen and a half years old”), and satirized unrealistic Star Trek fan fiction.[4] Such characters were generally female adolescents who had romantic liaisons with established canonical adult characters, or in some cases were the younger relatives or protégées of those characters. By 1976 Menagerie’s editors stated that they disliked such characters, saying:

Mary Sue stories—the adventures of the youngest and smartest ever person to graduate from the academy and ever get a commission at such a tender age. Usually characterized by unprecedented skill in everything from art to zoology, including karate and arm-wrestling. This character can also be found burrowing her way into the good graces/heart/mind of one of the Big Three [Kirk, Spock, and McCoy], if not all three at once. She saves the day by her wit and ability, and, if we are lucky, has the good grace to die at the end, being grieved by the entire ship.[5]

 


Solaris

Solaris is a 2002 American science fiction drama film directed, written, cinematographied and edited by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. It is based on the 1961 science fiction novel of the same name by Polish writer … Continue reading

Solaris is a 2002 American science fiction drama film directed, written, cinematographied and edited by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. It is based on the 1961 science fiction novel of the same name by Polish writer Stanis?aw Lem.

Reflecting on Andrei Tarkovsky‘s critically acclaimed 1972 film Solaris (which was itself preceded by a 1968 Russian TV film), Soderbergh promised to be closer in spirit to Lem’s novel.[2]

The film is a meditative psychodrama set almost entirely on a space station orbiting Solaris, adding flashbacks to the previous experiences of its main characters on Earth. Clooney’s character struggles with the questions of Solaris’ motivation, his beliefs and memories, and reconciling what was lost with an opportunity for a second chance.

The Tempest

Published on Nov 4, 2012 The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote … Continue reading

Published on Nov 4, 2012

The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place using illusion and skilful manipulation. He conjures up a storm, the eponymous tempest, to lure his usurping brother Antonio and the complicit King Alonso of Naples to the island. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio’s low nature, the redemption of the King, and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso’s son, Ferdinand.

St. Louis Shakespeare’s 2010 production of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST.
Performed at the Grandel Theatre, St. Louis, Missouri.

District 9

District 9 is a 2009 South African independent science fiction action/thriller film directed by Neill Blomkamp. It was written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, and produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham. The film stars Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, and … Continue reading

District 9 is a 2009 South African independent science fiction action/thriller film directed by Neill Blomkamp. It was written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, and produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham. The film stars Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, and David James. The film won the 2010 Saturn Award for Best International Film presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films,[3] and was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2010: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Best Editing.[4]

The story, adapted from Alive in Joburg, a 2005 short film directed by Blomkamp and produced by Sharlto Copley and Simon Hansen, pivots on the motifs of humanity, xenophobia and social segregation. The title and premise of District 9 were inspired by events that took place in District Six, Cape Town during the apartheid era. The film was produced for $30 million and shot on location in Chiawelo, Soweto, presenting fictional interviews, news footage, and video from surveillance cameras in a part-mock documentary style format. A viral marketing campaign began in 2008, at the San Diego Comic-Con, while the theatrical trailer appeared in July 2009. Released by TriStar Pictures, the film opened to critical acclaim on August 14, 2009, in North America and earned $37 million in its opening weekend. Many saw the film as a sleeper hit for achieving success and popularity during its theatrical run, despite a modest budget and relatively unknown cast.

Sneakers

Sneakers is a 1992 caper film directed by Phil Alden Robinson, written by Robinson, Walter F. Parkes, and Lawrence Lasker and starring Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier and David Strathairn. It was filmed in late 1991 and released in 1992. Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes first conceived […]

Sneakers is a 1992 caper film directed by Phil Alden Robinson, written by Robinson, Walter F. Parkes, and Lawrence Lasker and starring Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier and David Strathairn. It was filmed in late 1991 and released in 1992.

Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes first conceived the idea for Sneakers in 1981, while they were doing research for the script of WarGames.[1]

Once Robert Redford was attached to the picture, his name was used to recruit other members of the cast and crew, including the director Robinson, who had little initial interest in the project but had always wanted to work with Redford.[1]

At one point during the project, Robinson received a visit from men claiming to be representatives of the Office of Naval Intelligence, who indicated that for reasons of national security, the film could not include any references to “a hand-held device that can decode codes”.[1] Robinson was highly concerned, as such a device was a key to the film’s plot, but after consulting with a lawyer from the film studio he realized that the “visit” had been a prank instigated by a member of the cast, possibly Aykroyd or Redford.

18 Jan 1998

The story of Sneakers, the movie and Len Adleman the mathematician is as follows:

Larry Lasker was one of the writers of the 1983 hit movie War Games. Based on that success, he started to produce his own movies. While looking for a new project, he called me at USC and we arranged to meet.

He was considering making a movie based on cryptography. While we spoke he mentioned that he was also considering a movie based on a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Patients who had been “frozen” for many years would wake-up under treatment – sort of a Rip Van Winkle thing. I said that that sure seemed a lot more interesting than crypto – and he disappeared. The next time I heard of him was in 1990 when his movie Awakenings, starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, appeared.

A short while later, Larry again made contact. This time he was well on his way to making Sneakers, starring Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Mary McDonnell, Dan Aykroyd and River Phoenix. He told me that there would be a scene wherein a researcher would lecture on his mathematical work regarding a breakthrough in factoring – and hence in cryptography. Larry asked if I would prepare the slides and words for that scene. I liked Larry and his desire for verisimilitude, so I agreed. Larry offered money, but I countered with Robert Redford – I would do the scene if my wife Lori could meet Redford.

I worked hard on the scene. The “number field sieve,” (the fastest factoring algorithm currently known) is mentioned along with a fantasy about towers of number fields and Artin maps. I was tempted to name the new breakthrough the “function field sieve” — since I was actually working on a paper at the time which would later appear with that title – but I decided against it, for reasons that escape me now.

I made beautiful slides on my Mac. This took a great deal of time (graphics programs were not as user friendly as they are now) but I wanted the stuff to look impressive. As it turns out, Larry had them redrawn by hand by some guy on his crew – he said that hand drawn slides looked more realistic. Of course he was right – but I could have saved a lot computer time had I known in the first place.

The lecture scene was actually shot at a small college in LA. Larry told me that some physics professor there saw the slides and said that they did not show math at all. He offered to redraw them for a small fee – Larry declined.

Lori and I were there when the scene was shot. I was most pleased with my phrase “a breakthrough of Gaussian proportions,” — the Prince of Mathematics could use a plug in a major motion picture. We were introduced to Redford and chatted with him for about five minutes – that is Bob and I chatted – Lori said hello and then apparently was too star struck to add more.

I was given credit at the end of the movie as (in my recollection) “mathematical consultant.” Anyway the Academy snubbed me – since apparently the mathematical consultant Oscar for that year went to someone else.