Thursday, December 29, 2016

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Droids

My very good friend asked me what episode Rogue One would be in the saga of a galaxy far, far away. I considered this for a time and then replied, "Three point seven five." This still leaves space for an additional account of the events that took place between the time that the Rebels received the plans for the Death Star and the moment at which Princess Leia's ship was boarded by Darth Vader. Is there a story in there somewhere? If there is, would it be worth telling it?
I believe we have Tom Stoppard to thank for this current wave of reboots and stand-alone bits of stories that have, for the most part, already been told. He took a pair of little-seen characters from Hamlet and turned them loose on their own journey, even though they were fated to meet their demise at the hands of bloodthirsty pirates. Wait. Pirates? There were pirates in Hamlet? I would have paid more attention if I had known that all that moping around that dank castle would lead to some action eventually.
Which brings me back around to Star Wars, and the eternal problem of the "prequels." The story of trade embargoes and a young Anakin Skywalker was probably worth the energy of one film, not three. It also destroyed the careers of Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen. I can imagine that once upon a time those guys looked at the careers of Harrison Ford and even Mark Hamill, dreaming of the days they would spend sitting at Sci-Fi convention tables smiling and scribbling their names for an adoring public. That didn't happen. Their fates were more aligned with those of the independent contractors who were working on the second Death Star. That's a story.
Which brings me to the next point on this merry adventure, where my mother-in-law was dutifully catching up on her film history by watching the original King Kong. At one point, she may have dozed off, and when she awoke, there was Kong, chained to that big scaffold on a New York stage. She remembered seeing all that fuss on Skull Island, with Carl Denham and his crew of adventurers taking down the Eighth Wonder Of The World with gas bombs, but couldn't remember how they got from there to Broadway.
The story of how that group of men and one very traumatized woman managed to lash together a raft big enough to float them and that big ape back to their ship is a curious one to me. Did they engage the help of any of the native population of Skull Island? Were those natives happy to be rid of the terror behind the wall, or were there some who felt that they were being robbed of their heritage? And just who was in charge of keeping that twenty-foot tall gorilla asleep while everyone else was scurrying about looking for logs and vines of the proper length and tensile strength? Did anyone decide to stick around the island and enjoy the hospitality of the locals?
So many questions, so few answers. After that, I'd like to see how the custodial crew at the Empire State Building handled the aftermath.

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