The problem with Star Wars – to try to narrow it down to just one thing – is the extremists; that is to say people who take it far too seriously (Ronald Reagan) and those who don’t take it seriously enough (my stoned friends attended the premiere of Episode One in costume as C3PO, they drew ‘circuitry’ onto yellow dishwashing rubber gloves with a black biro). You’d have to see George Lucas as being a problem at both ends of the spectrum – taking it seriously enough to green-light sequels and prequels willy-nilly, not taking it seriously enough to create the character Jar Jar Binks.
I’ve never been quite sure where I would place on a Star Wars nerd line – I went to the midnight premiere of Episode One (having watched the rebuffed trilogy when reissued for the cinema). But it put me off ever bothering to see the other prequels. To this day I’ve seen the first three films in the filmmaker’s chronology and just the one mistake.
But then I’ll laugh along with some of the silliness part-associated with the brand like Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader and Son. And I sat through a one-man-show stage re-enactment of the films. I own the movie soundtracks, if the films were on TV I would record them to watch again whenever/maybe never. If I saw what I identified as a Star Wars nerd walking my way I would both cross the road and change the way I was walking.
I decided to check out Ian Doescher’s one-note joke, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. Probably because I figure this is the sort of thing that gets written late at night when the biro-circuitry gloves come off.
Quite why Doescher thinks his taking-it-so-seriously approach to transliterating George Lucas’ lumbering prose into iambic pentameter was worthy of full-story follow-through is best left to the imagination. But in true bore fashion an afterword fills in all the blanks that never needed filling.
Stuff about Luke as a Hamlet figure and the droids as the Shakespearian fools is less than 101 but Doescher seems so sure he’s stumbled on the lost connection. True dorks will be salivating in hope for his next trick-lit: Indiana Jones and The Lost Temptation of Christ in Paris, where an 80 year old Harrison Ford, while holidaying in France, fucks a stick of butter he thought he’d lost down the back of a couch in a hotel. Imagine his – and the reader’s (singular) shock – when that stick of butter in fact turns out to be Calista Flockhart.
O help me, Ob-Wan Kenobi, help. Thou art mine only hope.
Now, was that funny? Or clever?
If you found that painfully obvious and not especially necessary let alone clever/funny then you have answered correctly – this book is not for you. If you found it funny, sharp, perhaps even mind-blowingly out-there then by all means read this book. But please then shoot yourself in the face.
Doescher’s funniest line in the book – a full version of the first Star Wars story written out in excruciating Shakespearian verse (replete with stage direction-type notes) is that R2D2’s every beep and squeak is translated as simply a beep and squeak. Hilarious!
That he is so sure he’s made a profound statement – some amazing connection that the themes tie up – is to forget that Star Was is simply just a pirate story set in space. One of seven stories the world has heard a million times since and many million times before. Shakespeare caught onto that ahead of George Lucas and milked those seven stories for nearly 40 plays. The doubly worrying aspect here is that I might have uncovered Lucas’ master plan: 37 prequels and sequels of Star Wars? And Peter Jackson to squeeze Ian Doescher’s book William Shakespeare’s Star Wars down into a trim four-volume, 17-hour mini-epic. Speaking of squeeze – Sir Ian McKellen is apparently keen to play the Millennium Falcon. Having seen his Richard III in all its naked glory, those Weta peeps better know how to green-screen a really large cockpit.