Flex wrote: ↑
02 Jan 2018, 5:57pm
I think I get what you're saying, but I still didn't really read it the way you did watching the flick. Would the Falcon getting vaporized in the final moments have come as a surprise (outside of the metataxtual read that knows a film franchise isn't going to wipe out a ship with all its leads when there's a bankable next installment to film, naturally)? It would have for me, since I think it would have pretty cynically wiped out the struggle and growth that our characters went through this whole time. I guess I'd juxtapose what I think was the movie's careful, deliberate character development against the backdrop of what was (I agree) the most bleak of Star Wars story sequences to date. If the entire thrust of the movie was to interrogate the meaning of heroism, hope and sacrifice (and one of the things I liked was that it landed firmly on the idea that sacrifice in the name of victory is not, inherently, heroic or acceptable. While some life-giving sacrifice was valorised, the movie was equally firm that no life is inherently expendable and there are - perhaps many - times when saving those you love is more important than sacrifice to destroy an enemy) then the Falcon blowing up in that context would have been harshly dissonant. I think the character arcs are so vital to the movie that decoupling them from the scenarios those characters are set into is cleaving away an important tool to reading what's going on in the film, and how we respond to what's on screen.
Whoa whoa whoa, at no time was I suggesting that the Falcon be destroyed! Only that the way the narrative was structured, with one high-tension encounter after another, with the resistance number shrinking a little more each time, there was no reason not to have them go thru yet another seat-of-their-pants fight before escaping. My critique of the storytelling is that it doesn't have an appealing (ymmv, of course) rhythm and logic, and so why not have yet another death-defying battle? Of course they have to escape. Destroying the Falcon would be wholly insane.
I think that Rogue One, and continuing with this flick, did a lot to give credibility to the franchise for caring about the regular members of the Rebellion who aren't high falutin' generals or Skywalkers. I mean, yeah, Rose's sister is similar to the death of any X-wing fighter, and that's part of the point. Heroic sacrifice isn't something to strive for or to embrace so readily, which is what Holdo's arc grapples with (It helps that the fantastic Laura Dern pulls it off).
And I think that's the crucial point where we differ—about the appropriate scale of the Star Wars story. The first two trilogies (even the shitty prequels) and Abrams' revival all work on a grand scale. Drawing from pre-modern conceptions of heroism and storytelling, these people are chosen by events to do great deeds. Not for nothing was the original Star Wars called a space opera. While I liked Rogue One as a movie, with its ambiguities of justified behaviour and purpose, I didn't think it was a good Star Wars film because it operates on that more "street level" scale and the characters are less chosen than choose to act. That is, it's modern. I'd argue that your preference for Rogue One means that you fundamentally reject the core concept behind Lucas' vision—being chosen to do great deeds, not choosing to do them.
As an aside, and not specifically pertaining to this discussion, my special lady friend is of Asian decent and found the inclusion of Rose and her sister's stories in the film extremely powerful.
Far and away the best part of Disney reinvigorating the series is in making it more cosmopolitan, to give more audience members an opportunity to find heroes that might look more like them. Even if it's a cynical tactic to appeal to more markets, not making women and people of colour have to fantasize that they're a white male to really get into the film is an obvious virtue.
I'd argue the casino planet plotline is the heart of the film! It continues the importance of the common man in the direction Star Wars is taking us, and the tangible power relationships that make up the long ago and far away Galaxy. It answers one question I had at the beginning of this film - how the heck did the Republic fall so quickly again - by illustrating the ineffectiveness of those institutions and their structural rot (the Republic didn't improve the lives of the people on casino planet, and those weapons dealers worked with both First Order and Republic) and sets up two of our primary moral mouthpieces to work through the importance of helping the concrete, tangible struggles of the dispossed (as opposed to abstracted laser sword battles on star destroyers)
Very interesting interpretation, which does make a lot of sense when one approaches the story from the "street level." I'll have to muse about this more, but my initial reaction is that if this the crucial component, it's underplayed in favour of Ren, Rey, and that force crap.
Similarly, the red planet escape - and particularly Rose saving Fynn - concretely verify the heart of the movie: sacrifices may have to be made, but not all sacrifices are noble and necessary. Saving what you love is more important than destroying the enemy. I think Luke's effort on saving the alliance fits well with his growth here: his cynicism has been cast aside in favor of a hope that extends beyond a single Jedi but an embrace of a more nuanced understanding of struggle, hope and sacrifice that aligns with what the movie has been moving us towards itself.
Even accepting your interpretation of the core "message" of the film—and I don't disagree with it—Rose could save Finn on Snoke's ship during the climactic battle that I suggested earlier. All of those things could be done on Snoke's ship, allowing things to end with a big bang. Even if I come around to your interpretation of the casino planet, I just don't see the point of the salt planet, especially coming after this huge Death Star-like explosion. And in a movie that is pretty dang long, it drags out settling matters that could have been done in the previous set.
In any case, this movie more than any other of the franchise, has gotten me excited about Star Wars as something more than a fun, escapist romp.
Whereas I'm now more relieved that Abrams is finishing things off, as I loved TFA because it played out to me like Lucas' original vision that so wowed me as a kid, but with a far better director than Lucas ever could be. I'm reluctant to dismiss the earlier installments as escapist romps, but I do think they are swashbuckling, romantic sagas that play on a huge canvas. They're pretty uncomplicated morality tales of duty and achievement. They're all foreground, whereas I think you'd prefer more of the details in the shadows and background. (Still, I'll be seeing Johnson's other SW films when they come out because, c'mon, it's Star Wars. There may be weak Star Wars films, but there are no weak films involving Star Wars. Even the prequels.)