movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Wed Dec 02 2015, 03:20pm | 22 comments
Ouch! A little harsh. The cantina scene is basically a bar/marketplace scene, which is a setting that can fit into lots of stories (and not just Star Wars stories) without necessarily being emblematic of a tired rehash. A bar scene is a natural place for characters to meet up, have crucial conversations, make crucial decisions. Now if this particular scene also involves a cocky smuggler shooting a bounty hunter in cold blood before picking up a couple of passengers with their droids and no-questions-asked, you may have a point. :-)
I have yet to see Hamilton (soon!) but everything I’ve seen and read and heard of Lin-Manuel Miranda makes it clear he’s monstrously talented. I’m looking forward to finding out if he can make a snippet of bar music memorable.
If The Force Awakens has a scene where Han shoots first, I’ll be very pleased, retread or not.
Yeah, it could be a bar scene, or a restaurant scene, or a nightclub scene (death sticks?), or even a Space Fifties Diner scene (bet you thought you’d managed to forget that). But it’s a cantina scene, and I suspect that’s solely because the original had a cantina scene.
The movie will also have a Lightsaber Fight and a Space Battle and, most likely, a Jedi Training Sequence. Some of us are seeing the movie because of those scenes. But I’m also seeing the movie because I think something new and compelling can be done with those tropes. And I think Lin-Manuel Miranda can do something with cantina music that wasn’t done in 1976.
Okay, I looked up “cantina” in Wikipedia. A cantina is basically a bar. Potato, potahto. Also, what Danielm80 said.
I have absolutely no doubt that the new Star Wars film will traffic in nostalgia — how could it not? But the challenge (as with any franchise sequel, and indeed any film working with any existing tropes) is how to do new things WITH familiar elements, and Abrams seems to be aware that that’s the line he has to walk.
And I think Lin-Manuel Miranda can do something with cantina music that wasn’t done in 1976.
Yeah, if you want to try to make sure your film isn’t JUST a tired nostalgia exercise, one thing you can do is hire someone who won the MacArthur Genius grant for basically reinventing an old artistic genre.
Also, full context: when Abrams says “My mind is blown because he’s so brilliant,” he’s not talking about Miranda guessing there would be a cantina scene. He’s talking about his reaction to Miranda’s musical, which he had just seen when Miranda approached him to talk. I suppose the article doesn’t make it clear.
I know you’re joking, but I hope that doesn’t happen. I could imagine JJ putting that in as red meat for fans, but it would miss the point. The “shooting first” was significant because it showed where Han started, as a cynical, underhanded rogue, before developing into a hero. I would hate to think they’d take his character backwards just for cheap fanservice.
It’s like the old RPG set-up: “You’re all in a bar when…”
Two Jedis walk into a bar…
I’m not so sure that would contradict his character. Han never evolved into some noble hero with some high-minded idea about never shooting first. He just found a cause to believe in and fought for the right side. I don’t think that would preclude him shooting first in the future, if it gets him out of a hairy situation. (If anything, the screenwriters softened him up TOO much for ROTJ, where he seemed practically cuddly and toothless.)
Let’s remember too that Greedo was pointing a gun at Han and telling him, to his face, that he was looking forward to seeing Han dead. It was basically a death threat. In story terms, there was nothing particularly unfair about Han shooting him at that point.
A stormtrooper walks into a bar. *Thunk*
…And in ESB, on Cloud City, Han shot at Vader first, even if he didn’t succeed.
The cantina scene is basically a bar/marketplace scene, which is a setting that can fit into lots of stories
Oh, of course. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up feeling like a Star Wars greatest-hits compilation.
Right. So he was only “amazed” by the “guess.” :-)
Yeah, there’s always that risk. Have you read Abrams’ Wired interview? It seems he understands that he needs to actually have a good, self-contained, forward-looking story to hang all the cool “Star Wars” bits on. I hope for the best. :-)
“Amazed” is the article writer’s word, not Abrams’. :-)
And as far as I know nobody made a huge fuss about that particular moment before Lucas changed it.
I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean. There may be fans arguing that the original scene was the best part of the film and a masterpiece of writing and directing—I’m sure there are—but that’s not the point. It was one small, entertaining moment that helped establish Han’s character. And by changing that scene, Lucas changed the character, and made him a little blander and a little less memorable.
My point is that the whole “Han Shot First” fuss is entirely of Lucas’s own making.
Therefore I don’t expect a Han Shoots First moment in this film, because that would be an admission that there’s anything to make a fuss about, rather than a continuing claim that each successive version of the first three films is better than all previous versions.
We can only wait and see at this point.
The trailer for this movie features a character which resembles the most famous villain in Star Wars history. It’s safe to assume that the question of whether or not the new movie will be all that original had already been settled even before they came up with that cantina scene.
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