Keep The Identity Of Star Wars Japanese

12 11 2012

As you may know, a couple of weeks ago Lucasfilm was bought by Disney from George Lucas and along with it was Industrial Light and Magic as well as Skywalker Sound and LucasArts (and as a result of this Pixar is reunited with Lucasfilm, because it was originally owned by them). Now this is big news, but what is even bigger is that as a result of this Star Wars episodes 7, 8 and 9 have been announced with the possibility of more after that. When I first heard about this I was interested but unsure. While a New Star Wars would be interesting and exciting, part of me is unsure whether there should be more or not. Some people may be excited about it, while others may think more films should not happen. There was always the idea that there would be more but now it appears like it will. So either way you look at it, it is going to happen. Which is interesting in itself because people seem to forget what inspired and influenced Star Wars in the first place, and it is from this inspiration and influence that more stories can come out, grow and evolve?

In 1958, Toho (the people behind Seven Samurai and Godzilla) released The Hidden Fortress. Directed by the Legendary Akira Kurosawa (Throne Of Blood, Seven Samurai, Rashomon and Ran) and Starring the Legendary Toshiro Mifune (Seven Samurai, Rashomon and Throne Of Blood) the film was about a couple of peasants who escort a man and woman across enemy lies in the hope of Gold, however the man and woman were a General and a Princess. Until the release of Yojimbo in 1961 it was Kurosawa’s most successful film and it was the first time that Kurosawa used Tohoscope (widescreen format from Toho). Today the film is still a widely renowned film:

“One of the greatest action-adventure films ever made” – David Ehrenstein

The Hidden Fortress holds a place in cinema history comparable to John Ford‘s Stagecoach: It lays out the plot and characters of an on-the-road epic of self-discovery and heroic action. In a now-familiar fashion, Rokurota and Princess Yuki fight their way to allied territory, accompanied by a scheming, greedy comic duo who get surprised by their own good fortune. Kurosawa always balances valor and greed, seriousness and humor, while depicting the misfortunes of war.” – Armond White

“Both cracking entertainment and a wonderful piece of cinema” – Jamie Russell

100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes

Now you may be thinking that this is all great but what does this have to do with Star Wars. Well,

“George Lucas has acknowledged influence of The Hidden Fortress on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, particularly in the technique of telling the story from the perspective of the film’s lowliest characters, C-3PO and R2-D2. Kurosawa’s use of frame wipes (sometimes cleverly hidden by motion within the frame) as a transition device also influenced Star Wars. Lucas’ original plot outline for Star Wars also had a strong resemblance to the plot of The Hidden Fortress”. – Wikipedia

Yes a Japanese film from the 1950’s was the inspiration and influence for a film about War, sword fighting, robots, giant space stations, strange planets, aliens and a magical force. If you think about it, the Jedi are like the Samurai, very strict discipline in both how they learn and how they use their skill. An ancient form of Warrior.  Still not convinced, watch this –

Now if I may return to my main point. With a New Star Wars film coming up I think it is important to keep the Identity of the Film true, by keeping it based on Japanese Identities. This could be a golden opportunity to expand the series and the story. Perhaps new stories as it were. But how can this be done. In a way the first 6 films have already made it impossible to continue the series. Star Wars is really a story about Darth Vader, how he became a Jedi to the biggest villain in the galaxy to redeeming himself. Without Darth Vader how can the story continue? So it would make perfect sense to start a new story, a second book if you like or maybe a new series of books. You may not have noticed this but each film in the Star Wars series has its own independent villain:

So you could think this series as a series of books or one big book with 6 acts. So why not write a new book with another 6 acts, you could keep it in the same universe but write a whole new story with brand new characters. While Star Wars is based primarily on the Hidden Fortress, why not base a new story on a different Japanese Film. In Return Of The Jedi it is like the end of the Jedi. Perhaps like the end of the Samurai. The end of the Samurai Era was a major moment in history and if it did not happen Japan would not be like it is today. The Jedi era should come to an end, while it will remain a part of the culture of the Galaxy like it is for the Samurai in Japan it is important to evolve. So a new series of films could be seen as the end of the Jedi while there will remain a few pockets of Jedi, it will focus more on the growth of all the other cultures in the Galaxy. The series could go down the route of the Jedi vs the people, the Jedi are no longer a ruling class and the people want to become the ruling class. It would be hard to choose the hero and villain but it would be an interesting storyline. It does not have to be abrupt/sudden; the first film could be based on another Japanese Film. My fourth favourite (Non-Godzilla Film) and a film which I think of as the best Period Piece since Seven Samurai – 13 Assassins.

Directed by Takashi Miike the film follows the efforts of a group of Samurai who have tasked with killing a man who could cause chaos in Japan if he rises to power. This could be done in Star Wars as a starting point for a new series of films which could lead from protecting the galaxy to fighting the galaxy.

This brings me onto a very big question, who should direct the new series. Well some people may have their own ideas but seeing as it is unlikely that George Lucas will do it we need to look somewhere else. Seeing as it is his own series Lucas should do it and sadly the next best thing and perfect choice is sadly no longer around – Akira Kurosawa, it was his film that inspired this and as a result, he should do them. However there is one other director who I think would be perfect to do them – Takashi Miike. While Miike’s style could be considered controversial particularly for a family audience, his recent film’s 13 Assassins and Hara-Kiri which are both set in Samurai Japan much like many of Akira Kurosawa’s films, this knowledge is perfect for a film involving sword wielding warriors (even if it is set in space). But for many reasons I doubt this will happen, so I suggest that whoever does get the Job of directing the new Star Wars films that they research Japanese culture including the Samurai, because if they don’t they may as well quit.

While the creation of a new Star Wars series is a daunting prospect and there are many things that need to be addressed, it is my belief that the right thing to do is obvious. Keeping the identity of its story and its ideas the same as its influence and inspiration is important because that is both how the universe and its ideas were made and if you change that it won’t be the same. You can write a new story and still keep it based in the same Universe it is important to keep to the original identities as that is both what people have seen and loved but is also what you need to build on. If you change the foundations of a building, the building will collapse. That is why it is important that the Identity of Star Wars must not change and as a result of this it is important to keep the Identity of Star Wars Japanese.

GENEPOOL (You can also read my comments on this Subject on Matt’s Blog)


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