Tuesday, May 31, 2005
I've hesitated to report on the story until now, because previous internet discussion I'd seen was of questionable journalistic merit. But now, with the story appearing on the Books and Wisdom website, I’m more convinced that this story could be for real.
Sophia Stewart, screenwriter, paralegal, science fiction enthusiast and Afrikan woman, says she wrote a tale called The Third Eye whose darkly glittering tapestry of technology, dystopia and race served as the basis for the enormously profitable Matrix and Terminator film series--but for which she received neither credits nor cash.
Because I have an obvious interest in seeing a Sister get paid in full--not to mention getting accurate credit for launching two of the most significant SF film spectacles in the last 21 years--I held off on reporting this story to anyone because my own allegiance could have clouded my judgement. But it’s now clear that not only Pan-Afrikanists are interested in Stewart’s case. According to Books and Wisdom, the FBI has investigated her claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisation (RICO) Act.
Says Books and Wisdom, “In its assessment, the FBI reportedly found that over 30 minutes was deleted from the first Matrix film in order to eliminate liability. Moreover, they discovered key elements of Stewart’s ideas in The Terminator as well. If Ms. Stewart's case clears all litigation hurdles, easily this will be the biggest financial and legal blockbuster produced in Hollywood.”
Speaking of The Terminator and possible influences (or worse), I always felt that Chris Claremont's and John Byrne's two-part story in X-Men #141-142, "Days of Future Past," was the likely source. In the backstory to this post-apocalyptic tale, in1984, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants assassinates an anti-mutant political candidate. Rather than making humanity cower in fear, the result is the US government launching a nation-wide Sentinels programme. The giant mutant-hunting robots conclude their only means of fulfilling their mission is to take over North America; they kill almost all mutants and non-mutant superheroes, and put the remaining ones in concentration camps. An adult Kitty Pryde travels through time back to 1980 in order to stop the assassination and thus prevent the future nightmare from coming into existence.
The key elements are all there: killer robots conquering humanity and shoving it into prisoner status; time travel; the prevention of an assassination. Whether it's a coincidence, I doubt we'll ever know for sure, especially since so many folks draw upon the same sources. I mean, is Doctor Doom the source of Darth Vader, or did Lee and Lucas rip off the same original(s)?
Bashing teachers and schools is far too easy, especially in the US where public education is all too commonly betrayed by political and economic elites. It doesn't help when the newspaper of record gets in on the act with over-the-top, unsupportable charges, which can only further undermine public desire to aid (not "reform," too often a synonym for "privatise") one of the few institutions capable of fulfilling the American republic's yearning for genuine democracy.
Monday, May 30, 2005
Murray Dobbin of the Council of Canadians demonstrates that the federal Green Party, now led by a Blue Tory, is really a turquoise party. Believe them when they say they’re not left, but don’t buy that they’re not right. Dobbin writes that under the leadership of former Tory Jim Harris, “the Greens have become the quintessential small government, pro-market party. Their social analysis says virtually nothing about the structural causes of poverty, and their solutions borrow from both the former PCs and the Alliance. They talk about how a Green government would ‘enhance the existing network of... school nutrition... and food-bank programs...’ to eliminate hunger in Canada.”
Joan Russow, the former leader of the Greens, wrote last year, “I left the Green Party because... [a]s its former leader, I have become increasingly disappointed with the development of the Green Party of Canada and its loss of broader socialist concerns, its weakened opposition to militarism, its proposals for reduced government, and its ‘market-based’ environmentalism. However, it was only after I was asked by the media to compare the Green Party platform with the NDP platform that I realized how much the platform has changed since I was the leader.”
Brent Staples writes in Sunday's New York Times:
"Bill Cosby spawned a cottage industry among opinion writers when he ascended a podium in Washington last year and harangued inner-city parents for doing too little to educate their children. He threw salt in the wound by saying those parents were spending too much on expensive sneakers and not enough on books.
"Those brief remarks have continued to reverberate through the court of public opinion. Conservatives are hailing Mr. Cosby as the tough love truth teller of the moment. Liberals have come close to describing him as a race traitor, as Prof. Michael Eric Dyson of the University of Pennsylvania recently pointed out in his incendiary book, Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?" Read the rest of Staples' article here.
The Black Commentator argues that "we can't afford Bill Cosby anymore," comparing him to a radio shock-jock, and provides a detailed look at Cosby's commentary over the years to understand him in his larger political significance. Very worthwhile and insightful analysis.
I've always enjoyed Cosby's comedy--I'd argue he's one of the finest comedians the US ever produced. But his cultural commentary of late (and sadly, as I've now learned, prior to late) is another story. Yet this is the same man who's donated huge amounts of money to worthwhile causes, and even helped finance the Spike Lee Malcolm X feature film and the breakthrough Black indie film Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song. I hope Cos'll put his awesome powers of communication to more balanced and compassionate effect in the very near future.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
That's what the delightful Mur Lafferty of North Carolina said of me (which is the most endearing compliment I've gotten all year) on her fine podcast Geek Fu Action Grip. Check it out and enjoy the ride, everyone. And thanks for all the nice words about The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, Mur.
ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) writes: "Four years after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, human rights are in retreat worldwide and the United States bears most responsibility, rights watchdog Amnesty International said.... "'When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity,' [said secretary-general Irene Khan].
"London-based Amnesty cited the pictures last year of abuse of detainees at Iraq's US-run Abu Ghraib prison, which it said were never adequately investigated, and the detention without trial of "enemy combatants" at the US naval base in Cuba. 'The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law," Ms Khan said.
Read the rest here.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Anyway, it's nice to find out. The book was also shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick Award and the Compton Crook Award (which as a long-time NWA listener I was really hoping to get for the name alone). I don't expect to win, but I appreciate the recognition of Locus, arguably the most important SFF industry magazine.
Good to see some fellow Del Rey buddies up for some of the other Locus Awards. Congrats to ya, gents. If I win, I wonder if I get a trophy... you know, like a robot on a wooden base or something.
My man Br. Sean Gonsalves writes:
"Remember right after the 9/11 attacks many Americans were asking: 'Why do they hate us?' What was even sillier was when neocon pundits and war hawks attempted to answer that supremely naive question. They hate us because they envy our 'freedom,' we were told.
"The first time I heard the question 'Why do they hate us?' I was reminded of an encounter with a Palestinian shopkeeper in the Old City of Jerusalem. He [said] 'Good people, bad government. I've been thinking about what he said ever since. What I've come to realize is that, on one hand, the shopkeeper was expressing his faith in the common decency of American people. On the other, he was pointing to our collective tendency to fall for the rhetoric of our leaders in justifying morally indefensible policies and the fundamental disconnect between ordinary Americans' values and the decisions made by the leaders we elect.
"This week's phrase: ''Economic hit man' or EHM. 'Economic hit men are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, USAID, and other 'aid' organizations into coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources.
"'Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization. I should know; I was an EHM.' That's how John Perkins begins his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004).
"Pyramids, mummies, tombs, and other icons of aristocracy and the afterlife dominate our images of ancient Egypt. But love poems composed thousands of years ago may provide a more intimate glimpse of the lives of everyday ancient Egyptians.
"'Poetry is perhaps the greatest forgotten treasure of ancient Egypt,' said Richard Parkinson, an expert on ancient Egyptian poetry at London's British Museum, home to the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo.
"While historical accounts and biographies inscribed on the insides of tombs often give idealized accounts of ancient Egyptian life, poetry gives real insight into human nature and its imperfections, he said.
"A group of love poems have been found in an excavated workers' village on the outskirts of the Valley of Kings, where many pharaohs are entombed. The verses allow poetry lovers and Egyptophiles alike to tap into the emotional side of Egyptian daily life. "People tend to assume all ancient Egyptian writing is religious, so the secular nature of these songs and of much other poetry continue to surprise readers," Parkinson said.
"Written during Egypt's New Kingdom (1539-1075 B.C.) but likely composed much earlier, these songs are surprisingly direct about love and romance in ancient Egypt, using metaphors, repetition, and other poetic techniques familiar to poetry readers today.
"'The Flower Song (Excerpt)
To hear your voice is pomegranate wine to me:
I draw life from hearing it.
Could I see you with every glance,
It would be better for me
Than to eat or to drink.'
"(Translated by M.V. Fox)."
These Brothers and Sisters could write. While you're checking out the poems, check out some terrific historical texts, too, including an interview with Richard Poe, author of Black Spark, White Fire: Did African Explorers Civilise Ancient Europe?, and the classic The African Origin of Civilisation: Myth or Reality? by Cheikh Anta Diop.
Friday, May 20, 2005
I'm guessing that this group of secular priests from the Humanities mystery system deliberately obscures meaning because they feel inferior to scientists and mathematicians.
(I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that scientists and mathematicians don't want their work to be hard to understand--but they can only describe the universe and abstractions accurately with their own, complex language. If they could do it in prose or accessible poetry, I'd like to think they would. Hopefully one day that will be possible.)
Because the eggheads feel outclassed by the scientists, they make their own material as difficult to understand as possible, protecting the illusion that they know important things the rest of us are too dense to get. I caricatured that conceit in The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad through the writing of Heinz Meaney. But even there, I still made the text more readable than what these anti-craftsmen crank out.
Note to academics and other wanna-be smart guys: "Modalities" means "modes." It means "methods." So why not say that? There is almost no activity on earth that requires the word "process" added to its name in order to make sense. Not "the learning process, the grieving process, the assessment process." Learning. Grieving. Assessment.
Here's a bit from Fisk's article: "He talks abut the 'interplay' of 'political and mythic interdependencies' and the 'ubiquitous human psychological process of othering'. He wants to 'problematize' intervention at 'elite' levels. A rabbi - whom I immediately felt sorry for - was 'awash in paradoxicality', which apparently proved that 'cognitive dissonance is good for intractable conflicts'. Well, you could have fooled me." robert-fisk.com
"For all the talk of a dysfunctional House of Commons, what has transpired over the past few weeks is precisely the opposite. Oh, to be sure, for Bay Street, newspaper editors, hysterical right wing pundits like Andre Coyne of the National Post and the self-absorbed Rex Murphy of the CBC, it is dysfunctional because the dismantling the country has been put on hold. That, after all, has been the "function" of the House of Commons under Tories and Liberals ever since the free trade deal went through after the 1988 election.
"But if you are talking about government functioning in the interests of ordinary Canadians, families, communities and the nation, Parliament functioned better yesterday than it has at any time in the past twenty years."
See the complete text here.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
So, the Liberals have survived for now.
Heard a great speech last night by eloquent lawyer and political heir Rachel Notley, who pointed out how, thanks to the courageous NDP, the federal budget is a now damn sight better for students, parents, and the environment than it was under the original Big Business incarnation. CUPE outlines what we needed and what we got under the original Corporate Liberal plan.
Tune in but don't drop out: in Edmonton, at CJSR FM 88.5., webcast to the entire Afrikan planet on www.cjsr.com. Everything starts at 8 PM Mountain time, with the MX special beginning at 8:45 pm.
Don't miss it!
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
"'It's appalling that this story got out there,' Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on her way back from Iraq.
"What's not appalling to Condi is that the US is holding prisoners at Guantanamo under conditions termed 'torture' by the Red Cross. What's not appalling to Condi is that prisoners of the Afghan war are held in violation of international law after that conflict has supposedly ended.
"What is not appalling to Condi is that prisoner witnesses have reported several instances of the Koran's desecration.
"What is appalling to her is that these things were reported. So to Condi goes to the Joseph Goebbels Ministry of Propaganda Iron Cross.
"But I don't want to leave out our President. His aides report that George Bush is 'angry' about the report--not the desecration of the Koran, but the reporting of it.
For the rest of the story, visit the homepage of the superb reporter Greg Palast: Greg Palast.com
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
In a February 21st interview on Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now!, Professor Manning Marable, a major leftist American scholar and former head of Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies, alleged that Haley’s self-chosen rôle was to shape the Autobiography to put Malcolm X in an unflattering light. “Haley was a republican. He was an integrationist. He was very opposed to Black Nationalism,” said Marable. “Haley felt he could make a solid case in favor of racial integration by showing what was--to white America--what was the consequence of their support for racial separatism that would end up producing a kind of hate.”
Karl Evanzz is one of the leading Malcolm X scholars on the planet, author of The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X and The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad, and an on-line editor at The Washington Post. He dismisses Marable's claims outright, telling me, “It’s the old guilt-by-association attack. He’s basically saying that if one writer had been compromised, then both had been, which I think is pretty far-fetched. It reminds me of McCarthyism, where if one guy was a communist, and you knew him, then you were a communist, which is pretty ridiculous.... There’s no way [Marable ] could make that assumption based on the evidence he had.”
Then why make the charge? “I suspect that the professor hasn’t found very much in his search for biographical material for the book he’s doing on Malcolm X. I think it’s a really cheap shot to say that Alex Haley was an informant based upon the fact that a co-writer was feeding information to the FBI, even if that’s true.... [Marable] found nothing to say that Haley was freely exchanging information about Malcolm with the FBI.”
Unabridged text at Minister Faust.com.
For live webcast, visit www.cjsr.com for The Terrordome: The Afrika All-World News Service at 6 pm Mountain Time on Wednesday, May 18, or tune into CJSR FM88.5
Monday, May 16, 2005
"Rather, he and roughly 100 others had to make do with a 'blacks-only' cafeteria that lacked heat, running water, proper toilets, refrigeration and many other amenities.
"'I wasn't that surprised, because I already knew I wasn't allowed in there,' Mr. Michel said. 'Ever since I was there [in 1998], there was a guy who told us that one cafeteria was for whites, one was for black.'"
It gets much worse than that.
Mumia Abu Jamal says:
"For MOVE people, the date May 13th, 1985, is, to quote a phrase, 'a day that shall live in infamy.' That's not just because of the horrific act of State Terrorism that the date marks, or even the massacre of 11 MOVE people. It marks, once again, an instance of state injustice, for what made May 13th a date of remembrance is the brutal imprisonment of the MOVE 9, who, despite their innocence, were convicted of murder, and sentenced to upwards of 100 years in Pennsylvania dungeons... an injustice piled upon another injustice; an injustice leavened by a massacre." (For the rest, go here. )
Extensive links about John Africa and the MOVE organisation.
A more clinical description can be found here.
In 1996 the city was forced to pay $1.5 million in damages to a survivor and relatives of victims.
Daily KOS has much to say.
Friday, May 13, 2005
"...A vast quantity of evidence has now been built up on the system which the Americans have created for mistreating and torturing prisoners. I have interviewed a Palestinian who gave me compelling evidence of anal rape with wooden poles at Bagram - by Americans, not by Afghans.
"Many of the stories now coming out of Guantanamo - the sexual humiliation of Muslim prisoners, their shackling to seats in which they defecate and urinate, the use of pornography to make Muslim prisoners feel impure, the female interrogators who wear little clothing (or, in one case, pretended to smear menstrual blood on a prisoner’s face) - are increasingly proved true.
"Iraqis whom I have questioned at great length over many hours, speak with candour of terrifying beatings from military and civilian interrogators, not just in Abu Ghraib but in US bases elsewhere in Iraq....
"How did this culture of filth start in America’s 'war on terror'"?
For the full article, visit the Robert Fisk archive.
"Assistant Secretary-General Hedi Annabi told the U.N. Security Council that organized violence continues and that attacks on civilians, rape, kidnapping and banditry actually increased in April. Although there was no evidence of direct involvement of regular government forces, there were widespread reports of abuse by the pro-government Jingaweit militia.
"Upwards of 10,000 civilians -- the entire population of the Khor Abeche village in southern Darfur -- were displaced during a brutal attack, and a number of homes were burned and looted, Annabi told the council."
See All Africa.com for details.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
To watch and listen, check out the Thursday, May 12 Democracy Now!
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Tonight on The Terrordome (6 pm Mountain Time on cjsr.com, or 88.5 FM in Edmonton): FOCUS ON UGANDA.
My guest will be 26 year-old Joseph Ekemu. Hailing from Uganda, he’s spent the last five years in Canada searching for ways to help his homeland from the multiple miseries of civil war, the AIDS pandemic and one-party rule. Ekemu holds an MA in Political Science with a certificate in Globalisation, and is currently a research assistant in the Children and Armed Conflict Project of the University of Alberta’s Department of Political Science.
A year ago Ekemu helped establish The Child is Innocent Foundation with four other Edmontonians and another seven board members in Boston to found a sister chapter. TCIF’s mission is to rebuild educational opportunities and provide medical care for children suffering the effects of the 18-year old war in Northern Uganda, a conflict which has rendered over 800,000 people homeless and which has been especially devastating to the Acholi nationality.
During our discussion, he speaks on the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Christian fundamentalist militia terrorising Uganda in a brutal war involving atrocities and child soldiers. Joseph Ekemu will be speaking about solutions to Uganda’s problems, and how you can get involved this Saturday. We’ll also hear stories from all over Uganda on everything from boys facing the AIDS pandemic to Uganda’s economic obstacles with used clothing and used computers.
While it’s easy in Canada to picture Uganda in the simplistic “ooga-booga” stereotypes of Afrikan safaris, loin cloths and jungle animals, Ugandan history begins with migrations from further west on the Continent about 500 years before Christ. Reaching its zenith between 1100 and 1600, the Bachwezi Dynasty achieved a unified kingdom sprawling over modern-day Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and Tanzania. European and Arab intrusion, aided by Christian and Muslim antagonism towards domestic religions, successfully drove wedges inside Ugandan society from which the country has never recovered.
Beyond the religious predation on Ugandan society by foreigners, British imperialism sucked the country of its natural resources and guaranteed an unstable political economy for decades to come. Achieving formal independence for Uganda in 1962, the country’s populist government was soon overthrown by the British, US and Israeli-backed Idi Amin, the dictator who eventually oversaw the expulsion of tens of thousands of foreigners and the killing of about 300,000 Ugandans, only to be overthrown himself by Ugandan rebels and Tanzania. Since then, the Ugandan regime headed by Yoweri Museveni hasn’t exactly been a pearl of liberty and good governance. Britain has recently cut aid to the country, claiming as motive Uganda’s slow progress towards multiparty democracy, although Museveni is elected. National elections are scheduled for next year, but Museveni is already floating the idea of dispensing with constitutional term limits for the presidency.
And if those problems weren’t enough, the AIDS pandemic has wrought devastation upon Uganda, gutting a generation and imperiling its children. And added into this horror is the chief antagonist in Uganda’s northern war, the Lord’s Resistance Army, sworn to overthrow the government and implement rule under the Ten Commandments. Its atrocities approach the horrific scale of the civil war in distant Sierra Leone.
This Saturday The Child is Innocent Foundation is holding a fundraising dinner and dance to aid its educational and medical projects. It’s called “A Night in Africa.” The event begins 6:30 at the Portuguese Canadian Cultural Centre on 129th Avenue and 52nd St, with an auction, live musical performances, a banquet catered by Langano Skies Ethiopian Restaurant, and a dance. Tickets are $20. For information, call 993-0383.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
The discredited myth of a “Hamitic” race of non-Afrikan invaders “civilising” the ancient Egyptians rests in part on the notion that north-eastern Afrikans are “Caucasoid.” Some scientists even claim that the facial and bodily features (phenotypes) of these populations can be grouped into “clusters” which mark them as non-Afrikans. Imagine that! You walk down the streets of NYC, Toronto, Havana, or Lagos, you’re a Brother. But if anything (like history itself) should connect you with an ancient civilisation which was the torch of the ancient world and which had a massive impact on Europe, then poof! you’re a White man.
The French team even coloured their face. Coloured it pink. And now Live Science.com is uncritically getting in on the act by posting a link with the same photo.
And the French team knew they were building Tut’s face. Funny... let’s see how the ancient Egyptians coloured his face.
The BBC story has another shot of a more accurate depiction of Tutankhamun--an ancient bust. Just scroll down.
The nice folks at SFF World.com have decided to make The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad their book of the month for discussion. But I was surprised to find that someone had challenged the novel’s depiction of Egypt on ethnic-racial grounds, writing: “I also was not happy with the blatant expropriation of Egyptian history and culture by those who are not Egyptian. Just coming from the same continent does not entitle someone or their ancestors to assume credit for the work of others in the past. While it might seem that the ancient Egyptians are no longer around to speak for themselves, their descendents with DNA evidence are.”
“First of all, how does [the writer] know I’m not Egyptian? Second, Europeans have spent the last quarter-millennium expropriating Egyptian history by doing everything from inventing the myth of ‘Hamitic’ invaders to the endless slew of Hollywood fare such as Cleopatra and Stargate which depict the ancient Egyptians in a way the Egyptians themselves never did--as White folks.
"Nordic and Slavic (and other Europeans) whose cultures have no organic connection with ancient Greece and Rome nonetheless derive their continental and 'racial' heritage from those two societies. Afrikans also have the right to draw their continental heritage according to the same rule; furthermore, numerous non-Egyptian Afrikan societies are authentically, organically connected with Afrikan Egypt, particularly Nubia; see The African Origin of Civilisation: Myth or Reality? by Cheikh Anta Diop, Black Spark, White Fire: Did African Explorers Civilise Ancient Europe? by Richard Poe, and ‘Finally in Africa? Egypt, from Diop to Celenko’ by Aaron Kamugisha in Race & Class 2003; 45: 31-60, among many others, for a weighty explanation of the cultural, linguistic, religious, and physical anthropological data.
"It is not Afrikans who are guilty of 'blatant expropriation of Egyptian history and culture,' but rather the expansive imperialist project of Euro-America for the last 250 years, as amply demonstrated by Martin Bernal in Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985, Volume 1.
"...[W]hen it comes to assertions that are inaccurate ... or inaccurate and offensive (accusing me of promoting Black “stereotypes”) or ahistorical and apparently accepting a double standard (that Egypt isn’t Afrikan or that non-Egyptians Afrikans have no right to draw two-way links to a society that is amply Afrikan), then I have a right, on a public forum, to correct the record.”
"Media commentators were in a rage last week, denouncing the Liberal government for signing a 'devilish deal'... that will "prostrate its principles".... But for a full rant against the government's evil-doings, one had to turn to CBC-TV's Rex Murphy: "The current spectacle is dissolving respect for Parliament and politics, and going some way toward dissolving respect for the country.'
"Yikes. One might have thought Paul Martin had just released his own porn video or made a pact with a group of neo-Nazis....
"In reality, the rage was over the deal the Prime Minister struck with Jack Layton, the democratically elected NDP leader... to spend more federal money on the environment, public transit, affordable housing, post-secondary education, and foreign aid. The increased social spending will create more jobs than putting the money toward debt reduction — or corporate tax cuts."
For the full text, visit Straight Goods.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Listen/read/watch: "Bush Administration Allied With Sudan Despite Role in Darfur Genocide"(May 3, 2005).
And to make things even clearer about the deteriorating situation, see "Chad-Sudan: Twelfth Camp Opened for Darfur Refugees," from the always excellent Pan-African News Agency now called All Africa.com .
Not much of a surprise, sadly.
If you have a thirst for dependable coverage of American and international news, if you're a masochist, and if you're not already a daily viewer, listener or reader of Democracy Now! hosted by Amy Goodman, by all means check out her excellent programme. And check your local community radio station to see if the show already runs there daily or weekly.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Got the chance to see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith last Thursday during the local critics' screening. No matter what Lucas does, some people are going to complain that he's done most if not everything wrong, but screw 'em. George, ya done good. This is a strange film, in many ways; certainly, it's the most un-Star Wars Star Wars film of all. You're going to hear loads of people calling this one "dark," and if they mean "grim," they're right. It's almost non-stop violence (that's not a complaint, by the way), and some of it is appropriately jarring and disturbing.
I think that Attack of the Clones is under-rated, even though it's flawed; despite its generally weak dialogue and humourlessness, Clones contains the best character interaction of all six films. However, the mood and power and scope of Sith is impressive and haunting, with fine performances despite an underused Natalie Portman. Williams' score, strangely, contains no new major cues--there's nothing as memorable or instantly recognisable as "The Imperial March," "Duel of the Fates," or the love theme for Anakin and Padme.
Sith also contains very well-constructed allusions to the previous films, without being cloying--self-reference without the self-reverence.
SPOILER: For anyone who doubted that Clones was highly critical of the American Empire in general and the new phony "war on terror" in particular and the regime driving it, Sith should incinerate any of those doubts with two remarkable lines of dialogue and one remarkable pause in between them coming from Anakin Skywalker in his final duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Bottom line: I loved Sith, and I'm looking forward to seeing it with a large audience. Powerful and haunting.