Sunday, December 27, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 408: Star Wars Begins

A long time ago, in a studio far, far away, a bunch of people got together to make a movie. 

A lot of it was made up of stuff nobody had ever tried to do before. A lot of it was the same old things that had been seen and done a thousand times before. 

Its leading players weren't bankable stars. Much of the crew was green and untried. And while some, as on every film set, dreamt what they were doing would find an enthusiastic audience and great financial success, I doubt even any of those foresaw the force of nature they were collaborating to unleash.

As hard as it may be to believe these days, there was little or no advance publicity for "Star Wars". I went to see it on its opening weekend knowing nothing but what I could glean from the poster. Some kind of hero with a gleaming sword, a damsel in distress, robots and some kinda cool looking war in space.

It just seemed more interesting than whatever else was opening that weekend.

But from the first frame, you knew it had something special. 

Something that has made fortunes for a couple of generations and will for generations more. Something that has become culturally iconic and important. Something that his given birth to philosophical treatises and textbooks filled with semiotic insight most probably to the surprise of those who made it.

To them, as it was made, it was just a movie. A movie with deleted scenes, alternate takes, different angles, and bloopers the audience was never meant to see. A movie with characters who would never be turned into action figures, effects that didn't work and audio that needed to be fixed in post.

All of these have been gathered over the years by filmmaker Jamie Benning and augmented with commentary by the movie's cast and crew into what he calls a "filmumentary", meaning that while you are watching the original film, you are also seeing all those things which were excised or augmented to create the final product.

"Star Wars Begins" is a remarkable achievement in documenting the creative process, of exposing the fact that great films are not the work of genius artists that spring fully formed to the screen. 

They're ideas that get revised and re-imagined by a lot of different people doing the best they can under less than perfect conditions. 

This is a documentary well worth a couple of hours of your time, whether or not you have seen the latest incarnation. This is where and how it all began.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

@jamieSWB - Star Wars Begins - The Complete Filmumentary from Filmumentaries - Jamie Benning on Vimeo.

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