3 Oct 2016

HIGH FANTASY RULES - Star Wars (1977)

Film genres have formulas and rules, but how well do High Fantasy films follow their formula?

Star War (1977) [later called Star Wars: A New Hope.] is a space opera film, which I'm testing the limits of the rules with.  It is a Family film with Low Magic (but High Technology).

The following analysis may contain spoilers for

STAR WARS (1977)

For purposes of testing, I'm looking at this as a stand alone film.  Information learnt in later films will not be applied.

RULE #1 - The Secondary World.

"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." (Opening crawl)

1a.  Type:  Opens with "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" suggesting a faux-past, but making effectively an unconnected world.
1b.  Faux-medieval - No.  There is some use of "knights" and sword fighting, but not enough to support this label.
1c.  Panoramic landscapes -  Yes, for Tattoine and Yavin.
1d.  Impossible buildings and landmarks - Pushing it, but the Death Star.
1e.  Archaic spelling/strange names - Some strange names, some normal.
1f.  Hyper-real - A little.

RULE #2 - There may be sex and nudity.

"You came in that thing? You're braver than I thought." ~ Princess Leia. Organa.

2a.  Nudity: None, as noted, it's a family film.
i.  Female Nudity:  No underwear, but not nude.  
ii.  Male Nudity:  None.
2b.  Sex:  No sex.  One kiss.

RULE #3 - Characters.

"Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?" ~ Princess Leia. Organa.

3a.  The Hero:  Luke Skywalker.  Farmboy, male, possibly with a special power.
3b.  The Hero's Parents:  Luke's father is said to be dead.  He lives with his aunt and uncle.  They are killed.

3c - 3i.  The Party of Adventurers - 
3c.  The Mentor:  Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi.  Short white beard.  Has special powers.  Travels with the party.  Killed in front of the hero.  Helps him after death.
3d.  The Heroine:  Princess Leia.  Held captive by the Dark Lord.  Fiesty.  No hint of marriage.  Called a "Princess." 
3e.  A Warrior:  Han Solo & Chewbacca.  Han is borderline washed up - no drinking or gambling but he does have debts, accused of only being in it for the reward but later saves the day.  Chewbacca is the big silence warrior.  Only this one makes a lot of noise.
3f.  A Warrior Woman:  N/A, this film is very short on females.
3g.  A User of Magic:  See-Threepio.  No magic, but he is bumbling comic relief.
3h.  A Thief:  Artoo Detoo.  Not really, but he does do locks and carry secret messages.
3i.  A pet or other animal:  Unless you count the droids or Chewbacca here, no.

3j.  King:   N/A.
3k.  The Hag:   N/A.

3l.  The Dark Lord:  Grand Moff Tarkin.  You thought I was going to say Vader, right?  English accent.  Tortures the heroine.  Doesn't have powers, though.
3m.  An evil female:  N/A, this film is very short on females.
3n.  Male Henchmen:  Darth Vader.
3o.  Minions:  Storm Troopers.

3o - 3q.  An Evil Person - Did not happen.

RULE #4 - Races & Cultures.

"Let him have it. It's not wise to upset a Wookiee." ~ Han Solo.
"But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a droid." ~ Threepio.
"That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that." ~ Han Solo.

4a.  Homogeneous Races - The only races that more than one are really seen of are humans, Jawas and Sand People.
i.  Good/Evil - Humans are a variety.  All Jawas shown seem to be criminals.  The Sand People are savages.  Solo makes claims about the violent nature of Wookiees.
ii.   Magic - In this film only 3 characters show the ability to use the Force, all of whom are human.
iii.   Habitat - Jawas and Sand People are only seen on a desert planet.  The "sand" in Sand People is a give away.
4b.  Races - A lot of races appear as one-off or background characters.  Almost all appear to be male (but that's an assumption).  A pair of sexy identical human-looking females appear in the Mos Eisley cantina.
i.  Humans - Default race.
ii.  Elves - No real elf-like races appear.
iii.  Dwarfs - No real dwarf-like races appear.
iii.  Halflings - Jawas may count as Halflings.
iv.  Fairies - No real fairy-like races appear.
v.  Centaurs/part animals - Possibly Chewbacca (Wookiee) as a hairy creature.
vi.  Giants - Possibly Chewbacca as a large creature.
vii.  Trolls - None.
viii.  Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins - None, unless you count Sand People, but it's hard to say what they were.
4d.  Societies - Two main societies are show:
  • Tatooine - An analogue of the American wild west.
  • The Imperials - Military, but very Nazi-like.
4e.  Homogeneous Culture - Many languages (Threepio claims 6 million forms of communication) but most seem to speak or at least understand English.  Then again, English speakers seem to understand a lot of other languages.
4f.  Rival cultures - No real rival cultures, except the Empire dominating everyone.  Droids are looked upon poorly.

RULE #5 - Magic & Monsters

"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid." ~ Han Solo.

5a.  Magical Past - There are references to the Force more important in the past.
5b.  Low Magic Present - Only two and a half men with Force abilities appear.
5c.  Magical laws - A few vague laws are covered.
5d.  Good vs Evil - The Force is specifically said to have a dark side.
5e.  Gendered - All the characters with the Force are male, but the sample size is small and there is no female alternative power.
5f.  Hereditary - Luke wants to become a Jedi like his father, suggesting an hereditary character.
5g.  Spells & Powers - More powers than spells.
i.  Healing - Possibly.  Obi-wan attends to an unconscious Luke.
ii.  Remote Viewing - Not as detailed in the rule, but Obi-wan sense the destruction of Alderaan and Vader senses Obi-Wan's presence on the Death Star.
iii.  Obfuscation - The villain doesn't use this power, but Obi-wan uses a mind trick on an Imperial Stormtrooper.
iv.  Shape changing - Does not occur.
v.  Necromancy - Does not occur.
5k.  Items of Magic - Doesn't occur.
5l.  Artifacts of Great Power - Doesn't occur.
5m.  Religion - Force uses is repeatedly referred to as an old/dying religion.
5n.  Mythical creatures - few creatures beyond aliens and Banthas.
i.  Dragon - That's a skeleton of a dragon/dinosaur creature on Tatooine.
ii.  Unicorns - None.
iii.  Griffins, Rocs, Sphinx - None.
iv.  Giant Things - None.
v.  Supernatural Creatures - None. 
vi.  Raised creatures - None.
vii.  Nameless Beast - Not as such, but there was a eye-bally tentacly thing in the trash compactor.

RULE #6 - The Quest

"They must be trying to return the stolen plans to the princess. She may yet be of some use to us." ~ Darth Vader.

6a.  The Artifact - None.  There are plans to the Imperial weapon the Death Star, which allows for its destruction.
6b.  Destroy the Dark Lord - Not directly, but their weapon.
6c.  Save the Heroine - That is their initial quest.
6d.  Unite the races/Raise an army - Does not happen.
6e.  Prophecy - Does not happen.
6f.  Other events:
i.  Win a Contest - Does not happen.
ii.  Stop an Execution - Does not happen.
iii.  Stop a Wedding - Does not happen.
6g.  The Hero's Journey - See below.

RULE #7 - The Hero's Journey: Departure.

"Alderaan? I'm not going to Alderaan.  I've got to go home. It's late, I'm in for it as it is." ~ Luke Skywalker.

7a.  Secret Origin - Luke seems to have one.

i.  The Chosen One - No.
ii.  Orphaned - Father said to be dead, mother missing, aunt and uncle killed.
iii.  Revenge - The murder of Luke's aunt and uncle would seem to give him a reason to be motivated by revenge, however, it seems only to give him permission to leave Tatooine.  He briefly much later almost gets revengy over the death of his mentor.

7b.  Ordinary World -

i.  From Earth -  No.
ii.  Peaceful Lands - Comes from seemingly wild planet but from what appears to be a safe farm.

7c.  Initial Tests - Possibly the Sand People attack.

7d.  The Call to Adventure - The message from the Princess that Artoo plays.

7e.  Refusal of the CallObi-wan asks Luke to come with him, Luke says he has to return to the farm.

7f.  Supernatural Aid -

i.  Meeting with the Mentor - Look meets Obi-wan.
ii.  A supernatural guide - No such guide.  The droids, maybe.
iii.  May be given a magic item or artifact  No such items.  Was given his father's lightsaber, though.
iv.  The Party will begin to form - Luke, Obi-wan and the droids are joined by Han and Chewie.

7g.  Crossing the Threshold - Obi-wan takes Luke to Mos Eisley spaceport.

7h.  Belly of the Whale - They unknowingly head to the Death Star.

RULE #8 - The Hero's Journey: Initiation

"Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious." ~ Obi-Wan Kenobi.

8a.  The Road of Trials - Mostly battles with Stormtroopers.
8b.  The Vision Quest - Does not happen.
8c.  The Meeting with the Goddess - Luke meets Leia.
8d.  Lure away from Journey - Does not happen to the hero.  Han does attempt to leave with his reward, though.
8e.  A Greater Power - Vader.
8f.  The Ordeal - Apotheosis/Death - Possibly being contacted by Obi-wan who is dead.
8g.  The Ordeal - Descent into the underworld - Does not happen.
8h.  The Ultimate Boon - Destroys the Death Star.

RULE #9 - The Hero's Journey: Return.

"Now let's blow this thing and go home!" ~ Han Solo.

9a.  Refusal of the Return - Does not happen.
9b.  The Magic Flight Does not happen.
9c.  Rescue from Without - Han saves Luke during the final Death Star run.
9d.  The Crossing of the Return Threshold - The surviving craft return to Yavin.
9e.  Master of Two Worlds - Luke has become a hero of the rebellion and began to learn about the Force.
9f.  Freedom to Live - The destruction of the Death Star brings some freedom to the rebellion.

RULE #10 - Sequels/Remakes/Adaptations

"I knew you'd come back! I just knew it!" ~ Luke Skywalker.

10a.  Adaptation - Is not an adaptation of anything.
10b.  Sequels - It has 3 sequels so far, 3 prequels and numerous spin-offs.
10c.  Remakes - No remakes.


"An analysis of the plans provided by Princess Leia has  demonstrated a weakness in the battle station." ~ General Dodonna.

  • Rules that are followed in this film:   2, 7, 8, 10.
  • Rules that are partially followed, or not clear, in this film:  1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9.
  • Rules not followed by the film:  Nil.

~ DUG.

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