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Chen G.

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Everything posted by Chen G.

  1. I've said it a million times, but there had never been a Star Wars trilogy that had a plan, as such. Ever. The classic trilogy sure as hell didn't have a plan: Vader having not been Luke's father before March or April 1978 and Leia having not been his sister until February 1981. Not only that, but the style of the films and the very concept of the series had markedly changed: it was originally going to be closer to what Indiana Jones ended-up being: standalone adventures, made in a "quick and dirty" style with a self-consciously B-movie style. Then in 1980 it turned into a big-budgeted saga and its B-movie character downplayed. Lucas, Kershner and Marquand all have markedly different feel to their mise en scene. The prequel trilogy didn't really have a plan beyond the most rudimentary "Anakin has to go evil, Palpatine rise to power and Yoda and Obi Wan must survive." That's something, but its not a lot: many essential plot points like the death of Anakin's mother leading him to perform a massacre, and even Padme's death at the end were concieved of "on the fly", not from the outset. And, certainly, if the point of "having a plan" is to have all three entries feel of-a-piece, the prequel trilogy certainly fails: the ten-year time jump between its first and second entry makes it feel incredibly lopsided, like a prelude and a separate duology rather than a trilogy; plotlines and characters are dropped entirely (Jar Jar, Boba Fett, the whole "Sifo Dyas" malarky), the look changed radically from 35mm anamorphic to 1080p anamorphic to 1080p spherical. The mise-en-scene is mostly consistent (discounting the proclivity to use "flyovers" in Episode III), I'll give it that. In generals, planned movie series are the exception to the norm: by not having a plan and rather building one entry upon the one that came before, you leave yourself a lot more leeway to adjust for audience reception. Whereas if you truly have a well honed-in plan, you're kind of locked into a situation where if audiences didn't like the first entry...
  2. Count me surprised! I loathed The Rise of Skywalker. Well, except when I'm drunk, then its a damn hoot! I mean, if you derived some enjoyment from it, that's great, but I couldn't. Even though I think some of Johnson's choices were... less than organic, shall we say...I think its was perfectly possible to keep going from where he left off; and I actually think JJ Abrams tried: he pays-off the Force connection thing, he pays-off (even though it comes across as lip-service) Hux begrudging and ultimately underming Ren, he pays-off Leia giving the reins to Poe. Beyond the nonesensical plotting, the soapiness of the whole thing and the dubious morals of the film, its really just the pace that kills it for me: I've never seen a film paced quite like that. It was all just a blur.
  3. I think it is noteworthy that unlike The Force Awakens, The Rise of Skywalker is not graced with Abrams' director's commentary. Now, I'm not saying he had a terrible time making it or that he disowns it. But I do think it was clearly a movie made in a mad rush and the result is exactly that.
  4. I do think the overall direction for the show is deceptive insofar as its trying to fool people into thinking its part of the same audiovisual "continuity" as the films: the design aesthetic is vaguely similar, New Zealand and even the individual shooting locations are familiar, the score recalls the timbres of Shore's score, Dwarves are Scotsmen who live in geometric halls and Elves are willowy actors speaking in RP and wafting through vaguely art nouveau indoor-outdoor sets, its why Benjamin Walker looks like Mark Ferguson, etc... Hiring Shore for some token composition (which I nevertheless really enjoy) is in-keeping with that. What makes it feel deceptive is that its not until the closing moments of the final episode do we actually see a major prop from The Lord of the Rings that actually looks different: that being the three Elven Rings: Prior to that moment, there was a seemingly deliberate avoidance to feature props or locales that we would know from the films and could see are not the same: so the Grey Havens are mentioned but never shown. Elendil is given a sword that he carries on his person, but which is never described as Narsil (we do see the Jackson Narsil, but that was probably something they could pass for a homage). We never see the Ring of Barahir, as such. Sauron's prologue appearance is intentionaly cast into sillhuette so as to make it harder to tell that its not actually the same armour. The show is activelly trying to make its audiences believe its something that its not. Its a really peculiar approach. Its as if Tod Philipps Joker had spent 90 minutes of its runtime trying to fool audiences into thinking it was a prequel to Nolan's The Dark Knight: it feels deceptive and certainly very cynical.
  5. If you watch the trailers and listen very carefully, you can hear the sound of the box office getting smashed.
  6. That. George, for instance, denies that his original intention was to use preexisting classical pieces, but Williams had consistently attested since 1976 that this was the direction: he was originally hired to do the Cantina source cues!
  7. McCreary was very clear he was legally forbidden from reprising any melodic ideas from Shore: the show is ultimately separate from the films.
  8. There's a lot of this in the series: The theme we associated with the Force started life with a very strong association with Old Ben: the character of the melody is a much better fit for an elderly knight than to an ominpresent Force or deity. But already in the liners for The Empire Strikes Back, Williams calls it "The Force theme." But it also happens with the main theme, with the theme associated with the Rebels (consistently connected to the Falcon in the sequel trilogy) and many other motifs. Its not a bad thing: Pierre Boulez once wrote about a similar trend in The Ring (previously criticized by Jack Stein in "Synthesis of the Arts") but said that it is precisely this "drift" that gives the work a new and unique added dimension: that we experience the passage of time within the work, but also the passage of time of a composer and his relationship to his own musical material. That is all the more true of Williams here. At the same time, I think in Star Wars the degree to which this happens does risk the structural integrity of the cycle as a whole: it happens a little bit too much, with too many bits of material across too many entries.
  9. Yeah: "Binary Sunset" is a cue, used verbatim multiple times in the film "Leia's Theme" and "Yoda's Theme" are the tracks from The Empire Strikes Back album, again used verbatim.
  10. Lots and lots of Binary Sunset (not just the theme: specifically Binary Sunset), Yoda's Theme, Leia's Theme. That's all off the top of my head: I haven't listened to score in a while.
  11. I feel like in The Last Jedi the theme "gave in to musical gravity" and really just became an abstract musical device (which is not necessarily a criticism) whereas in The Rise of Skywalker it was again used more in a narrative context where it returned to symbolize the Force and the Jedi.
  12. I think there's a value in those album/concert presentations remaining on the album and the concert stage. It sort of allows these themes to also exist as purely symphonic entities: putting a little Leipzig in our Weimar school!
  13. Right. Its perhaps the most self-referential of all Star Wars scores, which would be fine had the material been developed or presented in new variations and in new musical contexts. Alas, it largely isn't. I never thought I'd have enough of Binary Sunset, and then... I'm also not a fan of the way the concert presentations of the themes - which used to be unique to the album - were cannibalized for the score.
  14. Is there? My memory is that Johnson said he did a spotting session with Williams, then left him to his own devices.
  15. Right. Walkure - my favourite of the Ring - can concievably be done fairly well: First Act takes place in Huding's home, second and third act take place mostly in mountain passes that are cast into deep shadows anyway, the magic fire isn't hard to do on the stage, etc... Its also one of the least demanding parts of the Ring vocally: whereas in Siegfried, the aponymous character almost always disapppoints vocally. Siegmund is probably the easiest of the Heldentenor roles (and possibly the most sympathetic of all of Wagner’s heroes but I digress). The only challenge is to get Brunnhildes, Sieglindes and Siegmunds that look compelling on the stage: Chereau managed that very well, I always thought.
  16. It is true that, in The Ring (except, maybe, Walkure) Wagner wrote the stage directions with complete abandom when it comes to what could be accomplished on the stage. So even in a big-budgeted, naturalistically-designed production, there are certain aspects - the Rhinedaughters and Valkyries, the wraith-like Alberich of Gotterdamerung, Valhalla and its ultimate destruction, the dragon, the transitions in Rheingold - that can only ever be disappointing. And the realities of opera, too, are such that very often the cast don't embody their roles well in terms of their physicality, etc... At the same time, a well-cast Ring can be an exceptional theatrical experience. The terror in Dame Gwyneth Jones eyes when Siegfried moves to embrace her, the jitteriness of Siegfried Jerusalem before the forest bird spills the beans, Waltraud Meier's anguish at her nightmare about the Neiding raid, the way Hildegard Behrens looks at Wotan during his farewell, traces of regret in Hermann Becht's Alberich when he bids farewell to Hagen... At its best, one feels one has watched a Shakespeare play AND went to a Beethoven symphony all at once! And its not something that listening (even to superb recordings like Solti's) can replicate.
  17. Been looking for that one for a looong time! Personally, my position is that music-drama is to be viewed rather than strictly listened to, though. I love to see great stagings.
  18. I don’t much care for Donnington’s book. I still need to check Holman’s. Ultimately, the Ring is a more vague work than other works that use the leitmotif technique and since Wagner himself gave little indication as to what HE considered constituted a leitmotif, catalogues of leitmotives for The Ring range wildly from some 70 motives to 260 motives. Derryck Cook got pretty close to the sort of thing Doug did, but died and left his great work unfinished.
  19. Hell yeah! Bring back the long movie! I think drama should be a commitment or an endeavour. Not just a 130-minute frivolity.
  20. Doug Adams once made the remark that print made Rosenman sound way more crotchety than he actually was.
  21. Static elementary chords that are one of the most important motives of the score...
  22. I think that's wrong. Just because the material is harmonically unadventurous - one's mind wanders to the long monophonic passage at the beginning of act III/scene two of Siegfried - doesn't mean it doesn't forward the storytelling through the leitmotif "language".
  23. Yes, yes and yes! Its as old as Beethoven who uses - what - open fifths to open the Ninth? And then we have, a-propos scales, one of the most sublime moments in all of music: the orchestral interlude of Wotan's Farewell is, what? just a rising scale. Funny, that... Been waiting for this video since the track first surfaced!
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