On further review, ‘Star Wars’ prequels = Genius?

So this is a really interesting article that attempts to rehabilitate the other-worldly awfulness of the Star Wars prequels.

Mr. McLeod claims to have discovered a hidden story within the Star Wars saga. Actually, the hidden story is nothing more than a seemingly endless list of supposed mirror images. It’s always an interesting thesis to postulate something between the lines. See Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code,” which draws upon the earlier “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” and a speculative reading-into of the Gospels.

I find a few flaws in Mr. McLeod’s argument. First of all, he assumes that George Lucas put these “mirror images” there. This is a big assumption. Irvin Kershner, for example, was the director of “Empire Strikes Back,” and he may have had something to do with the mirror image of Luke hanging upside down at the beginning and end of that movie.

Secondly, couldn’t we have expected Lucas to mention these ingenious devices as a defense against the torrent of criticism pitched at the prequels? Lucas never went there. I think he would have.

And finally, these mirror images just seem awfully gadgety to me. Looking for them might be a fun game, but do they add up to a better movie? “Citizen Kane” used gadgetry, such as deep-focus lenses. But that particular gadget enriched the film by allowing viewers to explore multiple story lines and plot developments within a single scene. I suppose the mirror images that Mr. McLeod points to may prompt us to make interesting connections within the Star Wars saga. But does recognizing the doughnut shape of the Trade Federation ships and associating it with the blockade itself actually enhance the movie experience? At the most it might be an “ah-ha” experience that is quickly forgotten in the flood of Lucas’ CGI assault. At worst, it’s corny.

I prefer to think of these mirror images as the natural outcome of a saga that is most fundamentally focused on dualities, such as light and dark, good and evil, sister and brother, father and son. Lucas certainly thought in terms of pairs when envisioning the series. But I hesitate to take these pairs too far.

However, there is something interesting here on a semiological level, where the audience participates in meaning making. Also, the extreme self-referentiality explored by McLeod is a rich postmodern vein to tap. Maybe there’s another thesis here.


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