About ten years ago, after a long campaign by Navajo Nation member Manny Wheeler, Disney/Lucasfilm released the first Star Wars movie dubbed into the Navajo language. In this clip from the PBS series Native America, the Navajo version of Star Wars is shown at a drive-in in Arizona, with some of the voice actors who contributed to the dub in attendance. Some Navajo feel a strong connection to some of the themes in the movie:
The Force and the universe is all interconnected. When you put that in the Navajo language, especially for an elder to hear that, they’re going to just be thinking, like, yeah, of course. It’s not just a movie. That’s stuff we really believe.
It’s a no-brainer: what if you handed over a visually rich sci-fi universe with slightly campy origins to a quirky auteur with an overwhelming aesthetic, just to see what you’d get? This short trailer imagines Wes Anderson at the helm of his very own Star Wars movie, complete with Bill Murray as Obi-Wan and Owen Wilson as Darth Vader (wow).
See also, from back in 2012, Conan O’Brien’s take on Wes Anderson’s Star Wars, A Life Galactic. I would totally watch either of these movies tbh.
Leave it to the Auralnauts to take The Mandalorian’s solemn catchphrase “This is the way”, back it with a pulsing beat, and turn it into the banger of the summer. Ok, maybe not. But in the process, they counted 222 uses of the phrase over the three seasons of the show (and also during The Book of Boba Fett, I think).
From YouTuber poakwoods, a pair of criss-cross mashups of Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but with their directors switched. When George Lucas takes the helm of 2001, you get a more crowd-pleasing and freewheeling movie while Stanley Kubrick’s Star Wars becomes more balletic and contemplative. Both are pitch-perfect.
The length of winter near the northern 45th parallel requires events to look forward to in order to feel like you’re not forever adrift in cold and dark. Big things like vacations and reunions with friends & family as well as small things like getting outside in the afternoon, having something delicious planned for dinner, or just, like, getting to the end of the day having consumed enough water.
One of the things I am looking forward to in the early spring is March 1st because a) the sun will set at an almost respectable 5:38pm instead of the current 4:40pm, and b) season three of The Mandalorian starts. This is the way.
May the 4th be with you and here’s the trailer for the upcoming Disney+ series, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The story begins 10 years after the dramatic events of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” where Obi-Wan Kenobi faced his greatest defeat — the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as evil Sith Lord Darth Vader.
The latest installment in the excellent Almost Famous series from the NY Times and Ben Proudfoot is about Devon Michael, who as a young actor was almost chosen to play Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
Growing up, Michael had small roles in commercials, television shows and movies. At 9 years old, he understood that an opportunity like “Star Wars” could change his life. From 3,000, the producers narrowed it down to three, and soon Michael was at Skywalker Ranch doing a test screen with George Lucas and Natalie Portman.
It’s pretty poignant listening to Michael talk about the disappointment and disillusionment that followed his not getting chosen, as well as a different kind of hardship for Jake Lloyd, who was picked for the role.
During a Tonight Show appearance in 1978, Johnny Carson asked Carl Sagan about the scientific accuracy of Star Wars. Sagan replied:
The 11-year-old in me loved them but they could have made a better effort to to do things right. A lot of different aspects of things — Star Wars starts out saying it’s on some other galaxy and then you see there’s people. Starting in scene one there’s a problem, because human beings are the result of a unique evolutionary sequence based upon so many individually unlikely random events on the Earth.
In fact, I think most evolutionary biologists would agree that if you started the Earth out again and just let those random factors operate you might wind up with beings that are as smart as us and as ethical and artistic and all the rest, but they would not be human beings. That’s for the Earth. So in another planet, different environment, very unlikely to have a human being. It’s extremely unlikely that there would be creatures as similar to us as as the dominant ones in Star Wars.
And a whole bunch of other things: they’re all white. The skin of all the humans in Star Wars, oddly enough, is like this. And not even the other colors represented on the Earth at present, much less greens and blues and purples and oranges.
Carson pushes back slightly at this point: “They did have the scene of Star Wars with a lot of strange characters.” But Sagan persists:
Yeah, but none of them seem to be in charge of the galaxy. Everybody in charge of the galaxy seemed to look like us. And I thought it was a large amount of human chauvinism.
Sagan also complained about Han Solo’s boast of doing the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. According to the script, this was an “obvious” lie on Han’s part to make his ship sound impressive, so Sagan missed that. But then, post-Lucas, the Kessel Run was explained in Solo: A Star Wars Story as a distance shortcut and not an elapsed completion time, so…. (via digg)
The holes drilled into Arctic, Antarctic, and glacial ice to harvest ice cores can be up to 2 miles deep. One of my all-time favorite sounds is created by dropping ice down into one of these holes — it makes a super-cool pinging noise, as demonstrated in these two videos:
Ice makes similar sounds under other conditions, like if you skip rocks on a frozen lake:
Headphones are recommended for all of these videos. The explanation for this distinctive pinging sound, which sounds like a Star Wars blaster, has to do with how fast different sound frequencies move through the ice, as explained in this video:
Q: Is there a life philosophy that you feel has carried you through your career?
A: My approach to what I do in my job — and it might even be the approach to my life — is that everything I do is the most important thing I do. Whether it’s a play or the next film. It is the most important thing. I know it’s not going to be the most important thing, and it might not be close to being the best, but I have to make it the most important thing. That means I will be ambitious with my job and not with my career. That’s a very big difference, because if I’m ambitious with my career, everything I do now is just stepping-stones leading to something — a goal I might never reach, and so everything will be disappointing. But if I make everything important, then eventually it will become a career. Big or small, we don’t know. But at least everything was important.
“All his life has he looked away, to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was, what he was doing.” —Yoda, Empire Strikes Back. See also “I’ve Never Had a Goal”. (via @tadfriend)
Before her appearance in Star Wars, Carrie Fisher had only appeared in one film (Hal Ashby’s Shampoo) and for the role of Leia, she was going up against several other great actresses, including Karen Allen and Jodie Foster. In this footage of Fisher’s screen test from late 1975/early 1976, where she’s reading a scene with Harrison Ford about the Death Star plans, you get a tantalizing glimpse of why she ended up winning the part.
Some Star Wars fans in Yakutsk, Russia (aka one of the coldest inhabited places on Earth in the winter) spent the last few months building a life-size replica of the Razor Crest spacecraft from The Mandalorian. It was self-financed at the beginning (one of the creators sold his car) but attracted some sponsorship as construction progressed.
In the 70s, the US government enlisted the droids of Star Wars to encourage parents to immunize their kids against childhood diseases like whooping cough and measles.
American parents weren’t getting their kids vaccinated. Measles, polio and whooping cough were taking a toll on young lives. Just as it is today, the message was important but the spot itself was horrible — a sludgy, if informative script. We shot it in a faux sci-fi control room. Most memorable was the way R2 appeared to pay no attention to the laws of physics.
Representing more than four decades of innovation and storytelling, the droids featured in this pane of 20 stamps are IG-11, R2-D2, K-2SO, D-O, L3-37, BB-8, C-3PO, a GNK (or Gonk) power droid, 2-1B surgical droid and C1-10P, commonly known as “Chopper.”
The characters are shown against backgrounds representing settings of memorable adventures. The selvage features a passageway from the floating Cloud City above the planet Bespin, introduced in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.”
Just as the original Star Wars movie was inspired by Flash Gordon and Kurosawa,1 The Mandalorian is modelled on the western — a lone gunfighter makes his way through the wilderness to protect the innocent. As Mando star Pedro Pascal put it: “I think that George Lucas played with the Western undertones with the first movie, ‘Episode IV,’ and now they’re taking the suggestions of that tone and infusing it with steroids.” So naturally, it’s a great idea to make a trailer for The Mandalorian in the style of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, complete with music by Ennio Morricone. Il Mandaloriano!
Lucas made Star Wars because he couldn’t get the rights to do a Flash Gordon movie. Who knew that “Flash Gordon as a samurai film” would be such a lucrative idea?↩
So admittedly I was not the biggest fan of the first season of The Mandalorian — I don’t particularly care for westerns, space or otherwise, and in terms of the off-piste Star Wars tales, preferred Rogue One and even Solo to Mando’s adventures. But there is something compelling there and because I was indoctrinated in the ways of The Force as a child,1 I will watch the new season that starts on Disney+ October 30.
I am not Force-sensitive myself, but I like to watch those who are.↩
The premise is pretty simple and there’s no need to oversell it because you can imagine what this is going to sound like going in and it delivers perfectly: George Costanza’s father’s voice dubbed over Darth Vader’s dialogue in Star Wars. Serenity now!
(Quickly: Luke = Jerry, Han = George, Leia = Elaine, Chewie = Kramer. Does that even work? (Obi-Wan = Uncle Leo? Is 3PO Newman?))
Although the announced Disney+ series about Obi-Wan Kenobi may shed some light on the matter, we don’t know too much about what “Ben Kenobi” was up to on Tatooine after the events of Revenge of the Sith, besides keeping an eye on Luke. This short film made by a group of Star Wars fans as a “love letter” to the series shows what may have happened after the Empire makes its presence known when Luke is just a young boy. (via kevin kelly)
In this Star Wars movie, our heroes return to take on the First Order and new villain Theranos with some help with their new friend Dab Tweetdeck. Rey builds a new lightsaber with a beige blade, and they head out to confront the First Order’s new superweapon, the Moonsquisher, a space station capable of cutting a planet in half and smashing the halves together like two cymbals. They unexpectedly join forces with their old enemy Boba Fett and destroy the superweapon in a battle featuring Kylo Ren putting on another helmet over his smaller one. P.S. Rey’s parents are Obi-wan and Laura Dern.
The “streaming wars” are starting in earnest with the launch of Disney Plus and I’m wondering how things will turn out, who’ll lose out, who’ll get favour swinging on their side. I can’t help but be disappointed that Disney owns so much of what I loved as a kid and teen (and still), and I don’t intend to have multiple subscriptions so there’s a good chance I won’t be seeing The Mandalorian for a while but… damn that looks fun! And that’s even before having Pedro Pascal smirk his way out of things à la Han Solo.
There’s other staples from the Star Wars universe present: carbon freezing (which seems to become a regular practice since Darth Vader froze Han Solo), speeder chases, giant creatures, and bars full of aliens. What’s also neat to see is that the Mandalorian seems to have two sets of armor: one that looks as though it’s cobbled from bits of armor from other places, and a nice, shiny set.
Let’s just all pretend that this trailer did not give me goosebumps and make me pump my fist a little, because at this point Star Wars is a sliced-n-diced and repackaged global financial instrument and very much not something a 46-year-old man who knows better should get excited about. (Jk jk, pump Mark Hamill’s gravely voice and John Williams’ soaring crescendos directly into my veins. And if James Earl Jones’ voice does not make an appearance in this movie, I will eat a Stormtrooper helmet.)
Last week we saw two absolutely incredible product introductions, and I’m having trouble picking a favorite. First, there were Glenlivet’s cocktail capsules that immediately reminded the entire internet of Tide Pods.
And then there was Le Creuset's Star Wars collection of cookware, including a Darth Vader dutch oven, R2-D2 cooker, a Han Solo in carbonite roasting pan, and a "hand-painted, special-edition Tatooine™ Round Dutch Oven, inspired by the desert planet with captivating binary sunsets".
This is neat: Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca speaking English to Harrison Ford’s Han Solo in a scene from Empire Strikes Back:
Mayhew’s dialogue provided context for Ford to play off of. Chewbacca’s more familiar voice was dubbed over the on-set dialogue in post production — listen to Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt describe how he created Chewie’s voice in this video at ~26:18. Mayhew passed away last week at the age of 74.
It is what it is, right? That infinite scroll of Lawrence of Arabia desert, only instead of knives and dynamite, the rebels have laser swords and spaceships. You’ve got those knight-and-samurai motifs of journeys, honor, and an inevitable confrontation between good and evil. You’ve got Chewbacca, still the best character actor of his generation. It’s Star Wars. Even if you resist it, it’s shaped us all. It’s the closest thing to mandatory mass culture we have left. Might as well check out what you’re going to be in for.
Ben Burtt was the sound designer for the original Star Wars trilogy and was responsible for coming up with many of the movies’ iconic sounds, including the lightsaber and Darth Vader’s breathing.1 In this video, Burtt talks at length about how two dozens sounds from Star Wars were developed.
The base sound for the blaster shots came from a piece of metal hitting the guy-wire of a radio tower — I have always loved the noise that high-tension cables make. And I never noticed that Vader’s use of the force was accompanied by a rumbling sound. Anyway, this is a 45-minute masterclass in scrappy sound design.
Burtt was the sound designer for the Indiana Jones trilogy, E.T. (he got the voice from an old woman he met who smoked Kool cigarettes), and did the voice for Wall-E. He’s also a big reason why you hear the Wilhelm scream in lots of movies.↩
Earlier today, Grace and trailer editor Jeff Yorkes uploaded a trailer they created for all 10 movies in the Star Wars franchise: the originals, the prequels, the two new ones, and the Star Wars Stories (Solo and Rogue One). As a trailer, it leaves a lot out, but the pair still make a few connections explicit that the casual fan may have overlooked in the midst of all the light saber & fighter duels.
Dmitry Grozov is a Russian comic artist who has made a trailer for an anime version of Star Wars: A New Hope. This treatment of Star Wars is fitting given the Asian, and particularly Japanese, influence on the film.
I would watch the hell out of a full-length version of this.
A huge cache of rare Hollywood memorabilia is up for sale at a London auction on September 20. The catalog includes over 600 items from movies like Back to the Future, Blade Runner, Batman, Blues Brothers, Die Hard, Goonies, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, Superman, Terminator, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and X-Men.