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Sci-fi Genre Star Wars

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Liam Pym

on 14 March 2016

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Transcript of Sci-fi Genre Star Wars

The George Lucas' star wars films have impacted the sci-fi film genre and our modern day society, for example iconic sayings such as "May the Force be with you", the iconic score by John Williams to the revolutionary graphics used in the film franchise.

Since the creation of the first star wars film in 1977, the summer blockbuster revolutionised the film industry: Science fiction in film has often been influenced by and compared to the star wars franchise when looking at other science fiction film. Star Wars has also contributed to the 'sci-fi boom' in the late 70's and early 80's which helped create the sci-fi film that we know today.
Plot: "The Imperial Forces - under orders from cruel Darth Vader (David Prowse) -- hold Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hostage, in their efforts to quell the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), captain of the Millennium Falcon, work together with the companion droid duo R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) to rescue the beautiful princess, help the Rebel Alliance, and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy."

Narrative: Due to the fact that Star Wars is based on other plannets and incorporates space travel, many consider the film to be that of a space opera. A space opera is a sub-genre of science fiction, space operas commonly rely on elements that audiences will relate to, for example: although large amounts of the film is based in space, nearly all the characters speak English, all characters breathe oxygen on other planets, fight wars etc. The film interestingly links to the theme of a fairytale narative, for example there is a main protatgonist (Luke Skywalker) and the nemesis (Darth Vader) and it incorporates the ideas of quests and exploration, However - most importantly is the fairytale like representation of Princess Leia, for example she is trapped on the death star in desperate need of being rescued, this not only links to female representation at the time but also to classic fairy tale stories and narratives of princesses being rescued, such as Snow White or Rapunzel. Released in 1977, the film reinvented ways in which science fiction film was created and represented:
Typically in science fiction film, Robots are negatively presented and represent humans uncertainty for new and improving technologies, for example the terminator: A highly advanced artificial intelligence called skynet becomes self-aware and saw humanity as a threat to its existence and decided to trigger a nuclear holocaust namedJudgment Day and deploy an army of Terminators against humanity. The Terminators are cybernetically programmed organisms created by Skynet sent back in time to 1984 where it would assasinate Sarah Connor before she gave birth to her son John Conner who would later become the leader of an alliance to destroy the Terminators along with Skynet. In contrast, Star Wars represents Robots or 'Droids' in the film possitivily and provide comedic value through the duo C3-PO and R2-D2.

C3-PO - Played by Anthony Daniels, C-3PO is a droid designed to serve human beings needs, it's main function is to assist in a variety of duties and translate other languages from different cultures during scenes for both the characters and audiences. Threepio and R2-D2 played vital and pivotal roles in the Galaxy's history while providing comedic value to moments in the film.

R2-D2: Alongside with his protocol droid companion C-3PO, R2-D2 is an astromech droid designed as an automated mechanic. The main duties involve a variety of repair duties and navigation computer on smaller starships.

Nearly every science fiction film created uses the idea of advanced technologies. Technology in science fiction film usually focuses on the possibilities and implications of technologies of the future on society etc, for example The Terminator represents of advanced technologies lead to the world ultimately becoming ‘doomed’ and results in a dystopian future. Many writers of science fiction media have adapted to or created new innovations of technology, for example a technology may be created in a film and later becomes a reality. This therefore requires a vast amount of creativity of writers in order to come up these advanced and un-thought technologies. Many of these advanced technologies are created to be as realistic as possible or quite or simply as a plot device. The Star Wars franchise has used both real-life technologies and also created concepts for future technologies yet to come, it is also important to note that at the time of the creation of the films, many of the concepts in the film were un-heard of at the time in the 1970's, however now they are a reality and a standard form and way of life.
The following are examples of the concepts of futuristic technologies featured in the Star Wars films:
solar power tech
The Millennium Falcon
The Sci-Fi Genre -
"symbolic representation, especially the conventional meanings attached to an image or images."
Setting and Location - Planets
There had been many film series before the creation of star wars: such as the James Bond series, however these films all contrasted from the style of the star wars narrative. Common film franchises had very little continuity and only kept the most important and major characters, their stories and narratives did not carry on from where the last left off with separate adventures and plots. However the director of the star wars franchise, George Lucas - created a vast, unique and captivating universe with alternate worlds, alien beings and advanced technologies in the future while creating a continuous plot, because of this he practically shaped the three part trilogy genre whereby each film left of on a cliff hanger in order to continue on to the next film. Since the creation of the trilogy genre, many other successful films have been created with a similar structure of narrative, such as the following trilogies: Mad Max, Alien, Terminator and the Lord of the Rings etc.

Along with Jaws, Star Wars began the tradition of Summer Blockbusters. A Blockbuster a thing of great power or size, in particular a film, book, or other product that is a great commercial success. Star Wars later caused a tradition of the summer blockbuster within film industry, whereby films are premiered during the summer months of the year and successful movie franchises are key to this success. It created the model for the major film trilogy and showed that merchandising rights on a film could generate more money than the film itself did.
Extraterrestrials and aliens are a common theme in the science fiction genre. Extraterrestrials are any life form that doesn't originate from Earth.

Gary Westfahl (reviewer of science fiction) - "Science fiction aliens are both metaphors and real possibilities. One can probe the nature of humanity with aliens that by contrast illustrate and comment upon human nature. Still, as evidenced by widespread belief in alien visitors (see UFOs) and efforts to detect extraterrestrial radio signals, humans also crave companionship in a vast, cold universe and aliens may represent hopeful, compensatory images of the strange friends we have been unable to find. Thus, aliens will likely remain a central theme in science fiction until we actually encounter them."

Many of the different aliens featured in Star Wars defy common stereotypes of aliens that are commonly seen in science fiction films: for example: the aliens are represented as very similar to humans in the way that many of them speak the human language and require oxygen to breathe and live, these factors often contradict with common representations of aliens in film: for example in films such as Alien and War of the Worlds represent the extraterrestrials negatively and how their ultimate purpose is to destroy other life etc.
Most space exploration stories require advanced technologies which allow the characters to explore landscapes and locations on different planets, such as: spaceships and space stations. Many science fiction narratives represent these ships positively or negatively, for example The Nostromo from Ridley Scott's Alien. At the start of Alien, the Nostromo is represented neutrally, however as the film progresses with the discovery of the alien on the Nostromo, it progresses to be represented negatively for example: the colours and scenes of the ship become darker, the sounds become eerier and progressively frightening from the mechanical chimes from the ships machinery and computers. However in Star Wars, The Millennium Falcon is almost presented as a character itself in the film, for example Han constantly refers to the ship as 'she and her' as if he has some kind of relationship with the falcon. The ship is constantly represented positively in the film, however aesthetically the ship is presented to be old and "a piece of Junk" in the eyes of characters such as Luke. Both the Millennium Falcon and the Nostromo share the same look and aesthetic in terms of the technology, for example: both of the ships have a retro and worn down tone to them, one reason for this may be that it helps to create a certain tone to the ships, however it is also notable that both films were made in the late 1970’s, this meant that the equipment and materials used at the time were very similar, mixed with the fact that budgets for films were a lot smaller at the time, this therefore meant that the sets of the time weren’t as large and expensive as they are today in common sci-fi films.
Most science fiction film and TV feature spaceships with futuristic technologies. Since the science fiction boom, there have been countless stunning and imaginative spaceships featured in science fiction film and TV over the years, from ships that have traveled into deep space such as Star Treks USS Enterprise or even time travel such as the iconic Tardis from Doctor Who, to those which are designed to destroy or defend different life forms. Since the creation of the Star Wars film franchise in 1977, many other concepts of spaceships in science fiction have been inspired by those in the Star Wars film franchise.
C3-PO and R2-D2
Trash Compactor Scene
The Following is a scene from Star Wars episode IV where in attempt to rescue Princess Leia and escape the enemy storm troopers and the death star: Luke, Han and Leia escape down a trash shoot and get stuck at the bottom. The scene features 3PO and R2 and their comedic value in the narrative of the star wars films.
The Millennium Falcon
The Following is a scene from The Empire Strikes Back where Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C3-PO are trying to escape from the empire, Han fly's the ship through an asteroid field in attempt to escape. The scene shows that despite its age,look and worn down technology, the Falcon is untouchable as it escapes the empire and dodges the asteroids with the 'odds of 3720-1'.
The Nostromo
The Weapons used in Star Wars represent both medieval and futuristic weapons and technologies. For example, the creation of the lightsaber: despite the 'blade' taking the form of a laser and beam of light, it historically represents the medieval weapons of blades and swords. The Lightsaber is a signature weapon of Jedi and the Sith in the Star Wars Universe and are the ultimate weapon. Once a Jedi learns the art of the Force they are taught how to use his/her lightsaber. The lightsaber represents a simpler time mixed with future technologies and symbolic of a time before the empire took over the galaxy. Because the Jedi are there to protect others, the lightsaber was created as a way to defend themselves and others rather than to be offensive against others. The lightsabers sound and visuals were unlike any other at the time, using visual effects and audio editing to create the weapons. Alongside the lightsabers, the blasters used in Star Wars are the most common weapons used in the battles. Unlike modern guns, the blasters featured in Star Wars are beams of high tech energy. The Blasters featured in the films were created through visual effects and complex sound design, it involved recording many different sounds and mixing them together to create one effect.
Feminism is the belief that women are and should be treated as equals in all aspects to men. In science fiction film, the representation of women varies largely between character and the film itself. Many science fiction films present women with authority and power, however many present women whereby they are weak and are represented at a disadvantage due to their gender. Many science fiction films present the idea of
Patriarchy :
This is a social system whereby men hold authority and power in society: for example: the male is the head of the family, a leader in social groups and the boss of a workplace or government. Feminism has challenged the ideology of patriarchy for many years. Since the 1960's, feminism has gradually fought to gain equality in society - many films represent both Patriarchal societies and Feminist ones: for example: Many films present women as sex objects and vulnerable and therefore rely on men to save them in certain situations, however their representation varies largely between different films. The steriotypical roles of women strongly impact females representation in film, for example the steriotypical traits of women in society are to be:


Many of these traits are presented in women throughout the star wars franchise.
When creating the original trilogy, Lucas had a clear vision of how he wanted his films to look and the aesthetics that would be used in his franchise. In the early stages of sci-fi in film, most effects and prosthetics were created through mechanical puppets and toys, Lucas almost reinvented the way in which the modern sci-fi films are made. Lucas and the Star Wars visual effects editor John Dykstra used all new innovative computer-controlled motion photography which enabled them to capture more precise footage of elements within the film while capturing more creative shots at the same time. Despite many technological drawbacks in the early age of sci-fi film at the time, Lucas and Dykstra managed to create revolutionary graphics and visual effects in order to capture the tone and scope of the film trilogy. The innovations of Lucas and his team set a new standard, which everyone who followed has copied and built upon.
sexually submissive
Star Wars is set in a fictional galaxy and explores a variety of different planets, cultures and locations where a number of Alien creatures are also explored:
Tatooine is a 'desolate' and 'harsh' desert world which orbits two suns in the galaxy. Tatooine is a place without law and is used as a home base for many smugglers and criminals. However, Tatooine is also home to many settlers such as Luke Skywalker and Anakin Skywalker before him. Tatooine is known for being a spaceport and its dangerous pod racing, bounty hunters, gambling and legalized slavery. Tatoonie's setting is very similar to deserts which can be found on earth.
Endor is a Secluded and rich planet explored within star wars which is home the the primitive alien race of the 'Ewoks' and a number of others. Endor has a rich and luscious wilderness forest setting. It was here that the empire used the planet as a station to build the second death star and later fought the Rebel Alliance in the 'Battle of Endor'.
Hoth is another major planet shown in the Star Wars universe. Hoth is an ice planet with a harsh environment with snow, ice, mountains and is home to deadly creatures like the 'Wampa'. Hoth has 6 moons orbiting the planet. The freezing conditions on Hoth makes it hard for any form of life to survive on the planet however it is home to the secret base of the rebel alliance and is also the center of a major battle and is therefore an important planet within star wars.
Feminism - The New and Old
With the launch of the new Star Wars film, many aspects of the representation of women in the films have drastically changed from the roles that were typically portrayed in the classic films. While the representation of females in science fiction can vary largely, the star wars franchise has featured very few females with important roles in the narrative in the past, they have commonly been used as plot devices, for example in the original trilogy there are many occasions where Princes Leia is needed to be saved, this places her character in a position where she has little significance and links to common fairytale representations of women.

However, in The Force Awakens (the latest 2015 installment of the franchise) these typical traits and the representation on women are very different, the film follows the story of the main character in the new trilogy named Rey, throughout the film she is represented with depth to her character and her mysterious and clouded past which is to be explored more in future episodes, VIII and IX. Rey is presented as a strong, talented and ‘force sensitive’ pilot and fighter. This differs from the classic representation of science fiction and females in Star Wars as its the first time Star Wars films have explored a female main character who is able to use the force. Leia is also another character in The Force Awakens who's character has developed in the franchise, for example in the original trilogy she was referred to as ‘Princess’ Leia, her name alone places her character in a position by which she is represented as helpless and needs to be saved, this imagery of a ‘princess’ links to the stereotypical representation of females in traditional fairytales such as Snow White etc. Instead, the new franchise refers to Leia as ‘General Leia Organa’, this places her character in a position where she has become more responsible for her cause in helping the rebel alliance, this could firstly represent how her character has developed during the many years gone by since ‘Return of the Jedi’. However, it can more deeply link to the change in both society and our views on female roles in ‘the real world’, for example since the creation of the original trilogy, there has been many theories and political movements such as Feminism that have grown since the 60’s, this can suggest how the typical traits of women in science fiction films has changed in not only Star Wars, but also potentially the science fiction genre and society as a whole.
Full Bibliography
The following is a scene from 'Return of the Jedi' where the Male Gaze is strongly used: In this scene, Princess Leia is captured and taken hostage by ‘Jabba the Hutt’ and forced to wear the ‘iconic’ slave outfit. The scene places the character in a vulnerable position whereby she has very little authority, power and characterisation. In these scenes the male gaze by focusing on aspects of her body: interestingly, these few scenes directly contrasted to what we had seen of the princess before, for example she was represented as powerful as she was both a politician and a strong leader behind the rebel alliance. (Taken from UNIT 2- Notes on Laura Mulvey)
The Male Gaze- Princess Leia
How movies looked:
Film Premiers:
Laura Mulvey
Laura Mulvey is a British film theorist born on the 15th August 1941, after her education at the St Hilda’s College in Oxford, she developed a range of different theories about film but her most recognized work is on her ‘Male Gaze’ theory.

The ‘Male Gaze’ is a term referred to when the scene or shot focuses on a female and the audience are in the position of a male, for example if a scene focuses on certain aspects of a woman it places the audience in the eyes of a male, however the male gaze is only referred to when the scene also uses certain cinematography techniques in the film such as slow motion and slow panning of the camera over a female’s body. Laura Mulvey suggested that when the male gaze is used in a film, it blocks depth and ‘human identity’ in a character, this suggests that the male gaze in a film implies how women are more ‘sex objects’ and how they are perceived because of their physical tropes represented in film etc. Laura Mulvey theory expresses how women in media such as film and tv are represented with little importance and depth in films. (This section was copied and pasted from my OWN notes on Laura Mulvery and The Male Gaze Theory, this can be found in my UNIT 2 )
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