Reboots are hard. It’s hard to find the sweet spot between paying tribute to the original while improving upon it at the same time. Watching a shot-by-shot comparison of the original Mad Max and Fury Road, however, reveals what a great sequel can be.
Compiled by Vimeo user whoispablo, this split screen investigation into the Mel Gibson classic and its relationship with the Tom Hardy reboot is pure fun. Not only do you understand how the newer Mad Max movie plays on old tropes, but you’ll also realise how sequels can revitalize timeless takes in filmmaking. Now we just need to watch both movies at the same time and see how long it takes for our brains to melt out of our ears with post-apocalyptic extravagance.
Over at Vox, Seth Masket wrote an interesting analysis of the Star Wars films and his solution to prevent the Galactic Republic’s transition to the totalitarian Galactic Empire.
“This is a real shortcoming for the Galactic Senate, for the one thing it really needed was an organized minority party,” he writes, “Through its oversight and investigative powers, it may well have uncovered Palpatine's plot and prevented his becoming emperor.”
I respectfully disagree.
As Masket notes, Star Wars roots itself in deeply political issues—war, dictatorship, rebellion, genocide—without really addressing them in detail or depth. We don’t have a copy of the Galactic Constitution, but we can infer some government practices from the films.
Masket pins the blame for Palpatine’s rise on the members of the Galactic Senate and argues that, had opposition forces been more vigorous from the start, the totalitarian Empire would not have existed. But focusing on internal practices within the Senate to thwart a dictatorship seems misguided. The Republic’s greatest weakness is the Senate itself.
Separation of powers is all but nonexistent in the prequel trilogy, and Palpatine, a politician and secret Sith Lord played by Ian McDiarmid, exploits this centralization to become a totalitarian dictator. The unicameral Galactic Senate elects the Supreme Chancellor from among its ranks, who apparently wields some degree of executive power. Taking office amid galactic crisis, Palpatine persuades the Senate to transfer more powers from itself to him until they are powerless to take them back. The prequel films make passing references to courts, but the judiciary apparently lacked either the ability or the will to curb Palpatine's rise.
In fact, the Jedi Order is the only clearly autonomous institution in the Republic’s governance structure. But they broadly defer to the Senate and the Grand Chancellor throughout the films, even in peacetime. The Jedi Council even acquiesces when Palpatine installs his personal representative, Anakin Skywalker, among its members. The films even acknowledge this problem: When Samuel L. Jackson launches in Episode III, he arrests the Supreme Chancellor “in the name of the Senate.” Palpatine’s reply is obvious and accurate: “I am the Senate.”
The other crucial flaw in the Republic’s overcentralization is the absence of federalism. Despite spanning almost an entire galaxy, the Republic is a unitary state without any apparent regional governance structures. Local autonomy is so minimal that Queen Amidala, played by Natalie Portman, readily abandons her throne to serve in a legislative body thousands of lightyears away. Nobody seems able to break a corporation’s trade blockade of a defenseless planet in Episode I until a native insurgency defeats its private army.
Elsewhere, the rule of law seems completely abandoned. Characters from wealthier worlds are surprised to discover slavery still exists on backwater Tatooine in Episode I, despite its apparent legal prohibition.* It's no surprise that when the Sith engineer a civil war in Episode II and III, thousands of star systems also secede from the Republic and join the “Confederacy of Independent States.” (George Lucas isn’t subtle.)
In a sense, the Senate’s weakness is also Star Wars’s weakness. The films make abundantly clear that the totalitarian, militaristic, and genocidal Empire must be overthrown. But Lucas failed to make a convincing case for the Republic, which the prequels depict as bureaucratic, corrupt, and weak. Liberal democracy is much more complex than that. Robust civil institutions, an independent judiciary, human-rights protections, and, yes, opposition parties are worth defending. Hopefully the next three films do better.
* Stunningly, the characters do nothing to change this in the film, including the two Jedi present. Qui-Gon Jinn, who is portrayed with gravitas and wisdom by Liam Neeson, purchases young Anakin Skywalker to free him, then regretfully says he wasn't able to buy Anakin's mother from her owner and leaves her behind. Liberating her by force from illegal servitude apparently doesn't cross the mind of one of the most powerful Jedi Masters in the galaxy.
The theatrical version of modular synth documentary I Dream Of Wires is streaming now via Netflix. The independent film plots the history, demise and resurgence of the modular synthesizer.
The documentary includes interviews with modular musicians, inventors and enthusiasts. Featured in the film are Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Gary Numan, Vince Clarke (Erasure), Morton Subotnick, Chris Carter (Throbbing Gristle), Daniel Miller, Carl Craig, Flood, Cevin Key (Skinny Puppy), James Holden, Factory Floor, Legowelt, Clark, John Foxx and Bernie Krause and more.
A 4-hour cut of the film, I Dream Of Wires: Hardcore Edition, was released last year on DVD and BluRay formats. Watch the trailer below. [via Synthtopia]
William Shatner has crowdsourced the ultimate Vulcan salute – a portrait of Leonard Nimoy made up of Trekkie selfies – and it’s actually pretty good
William Shatner’s portrait of Leonard Nimoy composed of a mosaic of selfies taken by fans is … actually quite good. As a piece of pop art in the tradition of Andy Warhol’s celebrity portraits, it is touching and vivid. It is a moving homage to Spock and his relationship with his fans.
Shatner asked his Twitter followers to send him selfies in which they gave the Vulcan salute, the famous greeting associated with Leonard Nimoy’s pointy-eared alien character in Star Trek. He did not say what it was for. The images have all been put together in a huge mosaic to create a picture of Nimoy himself, as Spock, making the Vulcan salute.