Sunday, October 14, 2012

Calcifying Campbell?

Man, I'm still basicall dragassing it in October, blogging-wise. Ah well.

This post from a Doctor Who blogger takes an irreverent look at George Lucas' intergalactic cash cow. In and of itself this is not uunusal, but Sandifer is more acute than most Star Wars critics. He gets at the root of what may be wrong with the franchise. Not in so many words, but I have to wonder if Lucas having time to clarify his ideas might have been a less than good thing for him. If Joseph Campbell was his guide in plotting out the series, he had a lot of time to spend extrapolating from Campbell's essays. What he didn't spend any time doing between what has been retro-named A New Hope and The Phantom Menace is direct. Not one frame in the over twenty years between the two. That may be why the human-scaled director of American Graffiti is present - if in a neutered form - in the earlier film and entirely evaporated from the later one.

As to the influence of Campbell himself via Lucas, I can't really disagree. I've enjoyed reading Carl Jung, Campbell's predecessor in the exploration of archetypes. To me his method of exploring the conscious and unconscious mind through mythological types can be very illuminating, if used the right way. Squeezing every book and comic and movie into the same mythological box is considerably less valid.


susan said...

That was a great article. I've read enough of Joseph Campbell to find it pretty easy to agree his theory of the 'monomyth' is overrated. I must admit I chuckled when the author called him a crank. We'd never watched the prequels so (a couple of years ago) before doing so we decided to re-watch the original Star Wars trilogy. They were fine, dated, yes, but pretty cool whereas the prequel trilogy was just awful for multiple reasons, most of which were related to the fact they never should have been made. Some things just need to be let go once their time is over but Hollywood really has never been good about that and has been getting worse. A couple of nights ago we rented Prometheus just to see what the fuss was about and it looked as though Ridley Scott should have retired too. What's aggravating is that for the amount of money spent on these blockbuster type films ($350mil avg) you could divvy that sum among a dozen directors and probably come up with at least four or five decent movies.

Joseph Campbell may indeed have gone a little overboard with his philosophizing but it's not his fault his ideas became endemic in an industry whose job it is to entertain us with new ideas.

susan said...

ps: Did you enjoy the Google tribute to Winsor McKay today? Best ever, in my humble opinion.

Ben said...

Yeah, I remember when I was younger most remake movies were of originals made in black and white, or movies made some time ago. Most were still unnecessary, but you could see the justification. But as you said, they can't let anything go now. As to Campbell, it's probably best not to follow any guru too slavishly.

I did see the Winsor McKay Google logo, and it was a treat. They even made a good "Nemo gets tossed out of bed" effect.