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Star Wars: Attack of the Clones -> Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

This was George Lucas’s last chance with the Star Wars saga. Though the Phantom Menace was generally hated by fans of the series for its lack of character depth, logical story, Jar Jar Binks, baby Anakin, and midi-chlorians, the second film was slightly better received. The films in general moved toward more positive reviews as the prequel trilogy went on. The Phantom Menace has 57% on Rotten Tomatoes.  Attack of the Clones went slightly up with a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. Finally, Revenge of the Sith opened to an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was even rated “Fresh.”

While many fans complain about the prolonged action scenes and 30-minute ending lightsaber duel, this film really is a good close to the prequel trilogy and a great way to bridge the gap between the unbelievable over-the-top action of the prequel trilogy and the thoughtful, subdued original trilogy.

Unnecessary, but epic.

Revenge of the Sith is the darkest of the Star Wars films, and thus the only film rater PG-13. This is understandable given the content which needed to be covered. The film covers not only Anakin’s ultimate fall to the dark side of the force and his transformation into Darth Vader, but also:

  • The conclusion to the Clone Wars begun in Attack of the Clones
  • The implementation of Order-66 and consequential death of the majority of Jedis in the galaxy
  • The death of Padme
  • Anakin killing younglings
  • The fall of the Republic and rise of the Sith and the Empire

The darker tone lent to a much more engaging story. This is likely why Revenge of the Sith is the most highly regarded of the prequel trilogy among fans and critics alike.

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Vector House of Leaves -> Fyeahhouseofleaves (an appreciation blog)

Tumblr has this trend where people make fan appreciation blogs by putting “fyeah” in front of whatever it is the blog is about.

I really did not expect to find one for HoL.

This blog is mostly just a mishmash of prominent quotes from the novel, but it has more than that as well.  It has scanned pages of the book, links to music inspired by the book, questions about the story answered by it’s editors, art, and more.  It’s a very interesting blog to follow and it resparked a lot of my interest in HoL.

This blog takes the medium from the book to the web by fragmenting the book into a series of single posts.  While this is fun for people who have already read the novel, it takes away a lot of the experience of finding these quotes and secrets on your own.  However, a lot of posts I saw were people saying that they read the novel after listening to the music/reading the blog, so maybe fyeahhouseofleaves can be seen as a tool for getting people to read the book.

I think that “fyeah” blogs are fun and a great way to highlight what it is people love about the work.

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Vector: Young Frankenstein (film) -> Young Frankenstein (musical)

As is the habit of late, the musical Young Frankenstein is another of many recent film to stage adaptations.  Opening in Seattle in 2007, Young Frankenstein found its way to Broadway the same year.  It opened to mixed reviews.  Mel Brooks, the famed wonder of Hollywood, wrote the book and the music based on his 1974 film of the same name.  The 1974 film, starring Gene Wilder, is a parody of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein.  The story is that of the film with some sections altered to include songs.  A young Dr. Frankenstein travels to Transylvania to get the estate of family in order once he inherits it. From here, the story runs the gamut with a monster, an Igor, and women fighting for the affections of Dr. Frankenstein.  Largely humorous, the film was very well received and is still a cult classic today.  The musical, however, not so much.  The New York Post called it “ho-hum” and not “hummable.”  Despite the mixed reviews, it still earned itself multiple Tony awards in 2008 and brought in an audience simply because it was based on Brooks’ film.

This says something about adaptation.  This musical could fall into the category of adaptation for profit.  As we discussed in class, sometimes people turn one medium into another carrying the same message to simply make a profit (nail colors and clothing lines based on films, for example).  This could be the case because Brooks knew that America loved his film and its story.  The same could be said of the opposite, however, that Brooks developed it to bring a new light to the same story and give his audience a new way to see Dr. Frankenstein and his friends.  The purpose of adaptation seems to be all in the eye of beholder.

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The Lion in Winter (film) -> Becket (film)

The Lion in Winter and Becket are two landmarks of historical cinema, and interestingly Star Peter O’Toole in the lead playing Henry II in two different parts of his life (it is amazing what a beard will do). Both are epic films, featuring angry, convoluted (and fictitious adaptations of) historical plots during Henry II’s dramatic reign as King of England from 1154 to 1189. You’d be amazed at what shenanigans a dysfunctional ruling family can get into in 35 years. And Peter O’Toole does an excellent job of playing to very different, but nevertheless extremely dysfunctional versions of Henry II in this film.

Becket takes place first, historically. In Becket, Petter O’Toole plays a self absorbed, over confident, and somewhat effeminate ruler. Becket is Henry’s favorite Saxon, a poor nobody who befriends Henry, and is eventually turned into the Archbishop of Canterbury. The movie seems to suggest that while their might not be a physical relationship between becket and Henry, Henry is nevertheless in love with him. As one person says to Henry: “You have an obsession about him that is unhealthy and unnatural!” Becket, however, has more complicated feelings. He seems to care more for his position than for Henry. But, since Henry is the source of all of his good fortune, he remains the faithful servant of the king. Even Henry driving Becket’s lady to suicide does not diswade his attention. But when he is made of Archbishop of Canterbury, all of that changes. Becket is in a position that is (at least arguably) as strong as Henry’s, and Becket now feels that his obligation is to God, not to the King. This leads to much butting of heads. As Henry says, “I would have gone to war with all England’s might behind me, and even against England’s interests, to defend you, Thomas. I would have given away my life laughingly for you. Only I loved you and you didn’t love me. That’s the difference.” Henry eventually becomes so mad at Backet that he yells, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” to his court. This leads to four knights killing Becket in the middle of a service. However, even this does not rid Henry of Becket; Becket is made a Saint, and Henry II is publicly flogged in Canterbury Cathedral (interesting note – this is also the concluding scene of the historical novel Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett). Henry is devastated by the death of Becket, and mourns him even as he makes biting comments at his tomb.

The Henry of The Lion in Winter is an older, gruffer, and much more manly. This is proven in one of the opening scenes, where he tells his current love interest that, “In my time I’ve known contessas, milkmaids, courtesans and novices, whores, gypsies, jades, and little boys.” (I am convinced that the little boys comment is a direct reference to his relationship with Becket in their youth, but I have no evidence of this.) The family is still as dysfunctional as ever, but this time Henry’s jousting partner is his wife, not Becket. For a pretty accurate representation of how this family operated, please look at this family portrait by Kate Beaton.  Everyone fights constantly, and there is much shouting and intrigue to be had by all.

The two films are very interesting to watch together because they show such different representations of the same king, played by the same actor. Similarly, the representation of Elanor of Aquitaine (Henry’s wife) is ridiculously different from one movie to the other. Historically, Eleanor was famous for being stunningly beautiful. However, this might have been partly because she was the richest women in Europe at the time, and owned arguably the wealthiest region of France. That kind of power will make just about anyone quite pretty. But in these two fils, they play both sides. In Becket, Eleanor is quite unattractive, and come across as rather stupid. In The Lion in Winter, Eleanor is played by Katharine Hepburn, who was stunningly beautiful. She is older in this film, but that is perfect – Eleanor was supposed to be  a good 11 years Henry’s senior. Moreover, Eleanor is just as intelligent and manipulative as Henry in this film.

These two films, both iconic in their own right, show two very different portrayals of the same King and Queen during two different parts of their rule. This is done to better play up different parts of the plot (as much as was allowable in the 1960s – gay men as main characters wasn’t really done then). Nevertheless, the two portrayals mesh in interesting ways, complicating the image of this period of time.

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