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EDITIONS
Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Star Wars Episode II - Attack Of The Clones
Star Wars Episode II - Attack Of The Clones

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)


MARK LAWSON:
Tom Paulin, Star Wars makes a lot of money, still does. Does it make any sense?

TOM PAULIN:
I thought so. I had a dread of going to it. I had never seen any of the other movies, and I got absolutely fascinated by it.

This is an extraordinary epic about the American Republic, and it starts with the idea of a civil war, of course, America fought a bloody civil war to preserve the Republic.

On the one hand, it's saying to most of its viewers that out there is an axis of evil, far galaxies, there are these terrible people. But on the other hand, it's saying actually the axis of evil is part of us. We are split. So it's something to do with George Bush having won, narrowly or illicitly...

MARK LAWSON:
It has all these stupid furry monsters in it. It's an attempt to sell toys, not a metaphor for the American civil war.

TOM PAULIN:
There is a benign sense of the Republic in it. Now, if I could just explain that. Obviously talking in this country, where there may be only 30% Republicans, if you know what it is like to be a Republican, let's take, when Chirac got back.

In the run-up to that, the French were saying the Republic must preserve itself. They must affirm the Republic in voting for Chirac, wherever we are coming from, left right or centre..

TIM LOTT:
The secessionists are the evil ones and the Americans were secessionists themselves.

ALLISON PEARSON:
Can we turn this discussion...

MARK LAWSON:
Rush out to buy your Republican toys!

TOM PAULIN:
Let me then put it like this. I remember a political theorist I know in New York, Floyd Weintraub, saying to me, when Bush won in the way he did, that the Republic is strong.

You take the Jedi. They represent the American constitution, the laws of America. This is what Americans have. It is an affirmation of the Republic, and it's saying, despite the idiocies of our culture and our imperialism, it's an extraordinary kind of imperial epic.

MARK LAWSON:
And Jar-Jar Binks is Abraham Lincoln. I get it all now. Tim Lott?

ALLISON PEARSON:
Try and follow that!

TIM LOTT:
Oh my god, I liked Yoda. I hated the last Star Wars film.

MARK LAWSON:
The Phantom Menace.

TIM LOTT:
It was a disaster. I, on the whole, have really enjoyed the Star Wars series. This held me from the beginning. I can't work out why it did, except for using very simple tricks, which was establishing relationships between certain key characters.

It established a relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It established a relationship between the romantic leads. On a superficial level, but it was enough to carry you through the action, which is all that is really required, and which is what they left out of the last film.

They did some very tricky stuff, the great moment in this film, for me, in terms of its cleverness, was pulling off the final fight scene with Yoda, which could have been so totally ridiculous had it gone wrong.

MARK LAWSON:
Yoda is this particularly tiny little prop.

TIM LOTT:
But Yoda doesn't even exist, the others do obviously! But Yoda is actually just a kind of computer-generated image. He is not even a furry suit. He doesn't qualify as that.

He gets out his light sabre and comes out to challenge the Count Dufus, whatever his name is, Christopher Lee. This huge towering Sith against this little furry creature, like a teddy!

You could have had the audience hooting with laughter. In fact they were cheering and clapping. It was brilliant. It was exciting and dynamic.

MARK LAWSON:
We may so far have found more in this than Lucas put in. Allison?

ALLISON PEARSON:
Let's take this back to the film that many people will have seen! I think George Lucas would like them all to be computer-generated. I think he kills the actors.

There are very, very good actors, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, and he directs them like they are computer-generated people. They bring no feeling to the performances at all.

TIM LOTT:
Ewan did quite well, It was a bad beard but it wasn't a bad performance.

ALLISON PEARSON:
This isn't just a film 13-year-old boys would like, this is a film that a 13-year-old boy would make, if he could make a film. It has a love of gadgetry and toys.

It's slightly tongue-tied and nervous around women. It's extremely lacking in sophistication about human relationships. It's really embarrassing.

Harrison Ford said, famously, when he saw the first script for the first Star Wars "You can type this shit, George, but you can't say it."

This is one of the lines that poor Natalie Portman had to deliver to Hayden Christensen, "If you follow your thoughts to their conclusion, it will take us to a place we cannot go." That's the level of dialogue.

TOM PAULIN:
Unbelievably terrible! It's like it's been translated through several languages. It's utterly dreadful.

But what I am saying is, these big Hollywood blockbuster movies have serious themes in them, which most people, I guess, take on subconsciously, or ignore.

MARK LAWSON:
We are going to leave that there.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Panel
17 May 02 | Panel
17 May 02 | Panel
18 Apr 02 | Panel
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