Frood’s Fun Friday Facts: Star Wars: Return of The Jedi

Dr Frood is minding his own business one day when he comes across a random, doubtless apocryphal bit of trivia that titillates his mental tastebuds: when casting around for a director for Return of the Jedi, future Star Wars persona non grata George Lucas decided that he really, absolutely definitely wanted his film to be directed by none other than David Lynch.

No, really.

David Lynch, director of dreamlike, surrealist creep-fest Eraserhead. David Lynch, whose various artworks (movies, music, paintings etc) specialise in being disturbing, offending and confusing in equal measure. David Lynch, who looks like he’d be happiest hanging around Dalston after dark eating people’s souls.

Directing Star Wars.

Chances are his film wouldn’t have been wildly different from Richard Marquand’s. So at best this is a mildly diverting factoid. Maybe so, but here at Frood we prefer to go a little…more obvious.

So here’s how we like to think David Lynch’s (18 rated) ROTJ would’ve turned out:

We have the same score that we know and love, albeit done in the signature style of Twin Peaks. With Julee Cruise on breathy vocals.

The scenes in Jabba the Hutt’s palace would have had more of an undertone of sexual violence and body horror (with puppets!) under a veneer of middle class respectability; Blue Velvet meets Jim Henson. One shudders to imagine the pit of the mighty sarlacc (hole in the ground with teeth and tentacles that Jabba wants to throw Han, Chewie and Luke into).

So one shan’t imagine the pit of the mighty sarlacc.

This eventually leads us to the weirdy dream logic of Luke reuniting with Yoda and learning the truth about daddy while Roy Orbison sings in the background and because we haven’t rammed in enough references to Blue Velvet, Luke finds a severed ear.

Remember Admiral Ackbar? He would probably have been redone in the vein of the pallid leather-daddies from the Spacing Guild in Dune, with the same horrifying vocals. The visual similarity to the Emperor would no doubt remind us that today’s freedom-fighter underdog is tomorrow’s brutal totalitarian regime. It’s a trap indeed.

The Ewoks would all be called Bob, have always been dancing, slowly and slightly off the beat. They’d have had regular human voices, but played at half speed with a touch of reverb. They’d have been seen eating human meat at least once. They probably shouldn’t have survived the movie in any event, so let’s just assume that Lynch would have given them psychic gifts/magic/messing with your head while you’re dreaming powers/lesser demonic entities.

Finally, when the Emperor is doing his old electricity trick (can’t mess with a classic) on Luke, Luke and Darth Vader both stand, start singing ‘In Heaven’ in unison, holding hands, while Jedi mind-controlling the Emperor into happily throwing himself to his own death. Meanwhile, back on Endor, Leia would sing along while sitting in the middle of the scorched, bloody remains of the battle.

Oh, and one of Luke or Han would’ve been recast with Kyle MacLachlan.
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I would absolutely watch all of Sting’s scenes from Dune again on a loop if it meant I could see that version of ROTJ.

Time Travel’s Mental Exercise

At a Galactic summit about 37 of your Earth years ago, it was decided to outlaw time travel for non-tourist purposes.

The reasoning was quite simple: history is in a near-constant state of flux, a chronology not just of events but of interpretations thereof. The 3rd law of revisionism is yet to be discovered by your Earth scientists and I’d hate to spoil the surprise. But it’s enough to know at this point that there is in fact no such thing as the past unless you’re not an historian.

Consequently it was decided that it’s bad enough trying to keep track of your own history let alone the histories of so many other civilisations in the Galaxy and that accordingly it is massively illegal on pain of pain to tamper with the events of the past.

Of course intra-Galactic horse trading is on a level of complexity beyond your human comprehension. But suffice it to say that where there are interplanetary bureaucrats there are highly profitable legislative loopholes.

Therefore it is permitted to travel backwards in time and mess around with the events of the past provided one does so in a time machine product of the human imagination* for the express purpose of pun-based tomfoolery involving screenplays, song lyrics and so on.

Your task is to do the following:

• Select a time machine
• Work out when and where you’d go
• Insert pun
• Come home, laugh quietly/maniacally to yourself every time someone unwittingly draws attention to the fact that you’ve changed the timeline.

That’s why I always smile when I’m in the pub and I hear someone say “These aren’t the druids you’re looking for.”

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*This was a highly successful criterion because a) most of the inhabitants of most of the civilisations in the Galaxy haven’t a clue who or what a human is and b) none of them speak English despite what Star Trek reruns would have you believe. Finally c) what do you mean there are other languages besides English?

Star Wars Episode 4: A New Remake

By now, Disney has followed my advice and begun production of the Star Wars Ultimate Collectors Editions, rehabilitating Star Wars for the diehards and introducing it to a new generation to boot.  Nice work, Disney, you couldn’t have done it without me.

For its next enterprise, Disney will be releasing Episode 7.  That’s fine, as they say: carry on.  Me, I’ve found more enjoyment/less abject terror in imagining my own remake of Star Wars: A New Hope.

It’s the same film, just with a different cast and some added dialogue. But because of the casting, the characterisation is different which in turn shifts the meaning of the words, making a brand new movie without needing to spend the GDP of Belgium on CGI.  Clever, eh? 

Suit yourself.

And so it begins (natch) with the flying words and spaceships and the laser noises and some stormtroopers.  A man in black leather strides into shot.  A big, tall man (not Bono then).  His physical size is matched only by his gargantuan talent.  Brendan Gleeson’s face can’t be seen behind the mask, but you’ll recognise the voice, the gentle tone with the hard inflections.  He’s a badass mofo, sure, but he’s also a touch world weary.  After all he’s been crushing the galaxy beneath his platform boot for a long time and he’s not even been able to accessorise in decades, let alone freshen up with a whole new look. 

Vader’s been taking a lot of crap from the officer corp since that spaceship debacle.  Sure he captured it, he even got a hot slice of princess out of it, but one tiny oversight, a couple of droids escape and suddenly he’s on some frickin’ goose chase.  Plus he can’t help but feel that people laugh at him behind his back.  He’s tired, lonely and just wants a friend, but in his loneliness he overcompensates.  In feeling that he’s shared too much with the wrong people, he then has to crush peeps’ larynxes with his Jedi mind kung fu.

He also finds himself feeling strangely protective of the princess, almost…paternal.

R2-D2 is la poubelle we all know and adore.  He escaped with his bezzy mate, C-3PO (Morgan Freeman) and between them they comment on everything that goes on around them – an idea Lucas purloined from a movie the name of which escapes me, for those who like their movie trivia half-assed.  Freeman has a voice made of gravitas particles and as such 3PO is a highly authoritative voice of reason, albeit completely ignored by everyone else.  He points out that a parsec is a unit of distance, not time, but Han Solo tells him to do one. 

Anyway, they meet…

Luke Skywalker, who dreams of escaping Hicksville and relocating to the corner of the galaxy labelled hipster.  Michael Cera has a nice line in geeky-but-zeitgeisty characters who are ironic but sweet-natured.  Also, he messed around with a lightsaber on Arrested Development, which is the sort of pop culture reference only the people who like the same things as me will know, which means I’m basically exactly like Quentin Tarantino.

Plus, I picture him pink-faced, staring intently at his Converse mumbling “I’m here to rescue you…” to Scarlet Johansson’s Leia; a woman once described by Woody Allen as “sexually overwhelming”.  Bit nasty, given we know they’re blood relations, but that’s Lucas’ fault, not mine. 

Anyway, purring, pouting ScarJo has the kind of career that means she won’t settle for being mere eye candy and wants some half-decent dialogue and a gun.  She faces off against older chaps quite well, too, which brings us to love interest douchebag and all round cool dude, Han Solo.

If you look up the words ‘louche’, ‘dry’ and ‘quip’ in the latest iteration of the Oxford English Dictionary you’ll find that the words have been replaced by a picture of Robert Downey Jr’s face.  His Han Solo might be conflicted when it comes to doing the hero stuff, but at least he’s the kind of asshole who not only wears sunglasses while in deep space, but somehow manages to do so without being forced out of an airlock.  He’s seedy, he’s been around, seen a few things, cynical but charismatic. His faithful pet wookie likes him anyway.

It also adds a creepy vibe to his constant hitting on the much younger Ms Johansson, which is a send-up of Hollywood’s golden age and all those Cary Grant flicks. Which is, like, totally meta, yo.

He’s also completely comfortable shooting Greedo first, because that’s how Solo rolls, George Lucas.  Greedo, in a nod to celluloid tradition, has to be played by a Brit because he’s a bad guy.  Bill Nighy is that Brit – camp and slightly ineffectual, entirely boneless when lounging around Mos Eisley bars.  He snorts his lines, gets shot, our heroes wander off in the company of…

Obi Wan Kenobi.  Way I see it, Kenobi is responsible for Vader, and thus the death of all those younglings and most of his Jedi pals and the rise of the emperor (if only because Vader didn’t kill that cross-dressing megalomaniac).  This has to screw you up a bit.  And he’s been living alone in the desert for decades, so he’s gonna’ be a bit…unusual.  

He’s a tricky old dude with a glint in his eye – you know he mind tricks the shit out of people whenever he feels like it.  Jedi aren’t monks – they just like the outfits – and this one’s a little nuts.  When Luke gets into that scrape in the Mos Eisley cantina, Christopher Walken steps up.  Staring a little too hungrily at the other man’s jugular vein, he says “This little one’s…not worth the effort, me, I could burst your heart in your chest. With my mind.” Pause, open hands, all friendly smiles “ah?! AH!? Come on, let me get you something.” Whips out his lightsaber, off comes the man’s arm.  THAT’s how Obi Walken Kenobi throws down. He picks up the appendage by the fingers, offers it back and says “I gotta’ hand it to you” because who’s gonna’ tell him not to do puns?  Exactly.

It’s the past and they do things differently there.  Women aren’t concerned about the glass ceiling so much as they are about being tethered to the floor, which, in conjunction with her youth, makes Grand Moff Tarkin’s stewardship of the Death Star even more impressive.  It was difficult at first, with all the lame ‘what a grand muff’ remarks and general sexual harassment, but since she made a couple of subordinates go for an EVA walk in their underpants that’s all settled down.  Funny how the sight of a man’s eyeballs imploding in the cold depths of space quells the chauvinist impulse.

Tarkin’s not been laid in ages because she out-ranks and out-earns the men on board – they say they’re cool with it but she can tell they feel emasculated, which is pathetic.  It’s fine though, she’ll just have to wait for shore leave, get her fake tan on and go out golden of skin, slender of limb and with her tits hoiked up to her chin.  It stings her to have to placate the fragile male ego by talking in a giggly, girly voice and pretending to be slightly stupid, but mama’s got an itch to scratch.

She’s also suffering from low blood sugar because she’s been dieting since she was 14.  Some old law about movies aimed at children/infantilised males dictates that her uniform must be skin tight (Ordnance No. 871623/1967 Something For The Dads Act). 

The tightness of the uniform means she’s forever concerned about VPL undermining her authority or, worse, a spot of dromedary hoof which might result in her picture appearing on a tawdry website to be gawped at by sweaty men with hairy palms.  

Which is just disgusting.

Then, to compound matters, some princess pitches up whom all the officers have been trying to get amongst.  She’s wearing something white, floaty and 70s-inspired, which is so chic. She’s worn it for several days but it’s pristine.  Not even crumpled.  Best explode her home planet, that’ll show the snooty bitch what’s what.

Now that’s a lot of backstory and baggage for such a small (but crucial) role.  Luckily, Charlize Theron is an Oscar winning actress, so she can communicate all of it with just a single look.  You go, girl.

Anyway, Tarkin’s just calmed down some swinging-dick, bullshit posturing when all hell breaks loose.  One thing leads to another, Obi Walken Kenobi exits stage left, Princess Scarlett joins the crew. 

Cera makes an ironic, self-deprecating joke which is taken the wrong way and suddenly he finds himself in an X-Wing with a group of extras and Wedge Antilles (Nathan Fillion, in a nod to Joss Whedon fanboys who still aren’t over the cancellation of Firefly).  

Wedge pops up occasionally in the films, does sweet FA, but does have an intricately detailed back story because Lucas apparently loves licensing the Star Wars brand to any old content creator in exchange for money.

DS gets blown up, which means that Charlize Theron died hungry and with that itch resolutely unscratched, which just goes to show that crime doesn’t pay.  Except that it does because Charlize was paid an inordinate sum of money in exchange for her 3 minutes of screen time.

Fin.

That’s My Star Wars remake, internet.  What do you think of it, internet?  Who would you cast, and why?

Disney Lucasfilms Presents: Star Wars: A Brand New Cash Cow

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, 1983 to be precise, a small band of teddy bears managed to bring an evil galactic empire to its knees with sticks and stones.  Well they do break bones after all.  And walking tanks.

Empires are rubbish, aren’t they?  In whatever context the word is used, examples of egregious imperial abuse are rife.

With hindsight, the signs of the Evil Lucas Empire’s desire to wring as much money as possible from its marquee brand were there in the eyes of the Ewoks – kiddy friendly and begging to be spun off into their own cutesy (and mercifully short-lived) cartoon.

More recently, in a galaxy considerably closer to home, even biggerer and more eviller empire, Disney, acquired George Lucas’ company and announced that they’d bring their substantially more efficient fan-milking machinery to the Star Wars universe.  

Lots has been written on this topic, and truth be told I don’t feel particularly exercised about this particular development.  Disney showed with Pixar and Marvel that it’s capable of taking a hands-off approach to output, and indeed has a vested interest in Episode 7 rehabilitating the series’ quality, by which I mean merchandising viability.  Besides which, the antagonism between Lucas and Star Wars fans is worse than (insert inappropriate socio-political example here). 

And it’s not like Star Wars can get any worse than Episode 1: Allusions To A Virgin Birth, right?

First things first, though, Disney really ought make reparations to erstwhile Jedi warriors.  Luckily for them I have an easy (and obvious) solution, and it’s got the potential to be a real moneyspinner.  But first, a question:

What’s the single most upsetting thing about Lucas’ handling of Star Wars?  Other than making Greedo shoot first.  Not Jar Jar Binks, either.

The constant tweaking and re-releasing. 

There we go.  Lucas isn’t the only one to do this of course – Sir Ridley Scott started tampering with Bladerunner almost from the moment it was released.  But at least he never point-blank refused ever again to sell you unmolested versions of his vision.  It’s the difference between being offered a cappuccino and being told you’re not allowed to have a plain old cup of joe.  And finding out that your cappuccino comes with Hayden Christensen’s face digitally superimposed on it.  

In my not so humble opinion, Disney’s solution/opportunity to rifle through your pockets is to re-release each film of the original trilogy as single “definitive” boxsets. Each would include the original theatrical release (both domestic and international if they differed), the digital remastering in widescreen I used to have on VHS, the Special Editions and, I dunno, a working print plus a sprawling 189 hour documentary about each film.  Essentially, steal the Bladerunner approach and charge people loadsa’ money for it.

Don’t pretend that at least a small part of you wouldn’t want to buy it.  It doesn’t even matter that you no longer believe in physical formats like Blu-Ray or DVD.  They got you a long, long time ago when you were young, in that galaxy far, far away when midichlorians, Hayden Christensen, younglings and pod-racing didn’t exist and you had no idea that a parsec is a unit of distance, not time.

Next time on Frood: Star Wars Episode 4: A New Remake.