Critic’s Pick: TV Pick: ‘Star Wars Wars’
“Star Wars Wars” (YouTube). Marcus Rosentrater, an Atlanta-based filmmaker and animator (he works on “Archer”), has taken all six “Star Wars” films and overlaid them into one single mind-bending work of art -- yeah, I said it -- that in the bargain transforms the last three movies in the series into something that doesn’t suck. (It also does the world the favor of burying that shot in"Return of the Jedi” where Luke sees the ghosts or whatever they are of Obi-wan Kenobi, Yoda and his father, the former Darth Vader). It is up on YouTube in a standard and, for the last few days, a high-definition version. Many will find it noisy and unwatchable; I think it’s spectacular and beautiful.
As a work of guerrilla recontextualization, it’s akin to other recent pieces in which the entirety of “The Twilight Zone” or every episode (to that point) of “The Simpsons” is presented side-by-side in a mosaic of simultaneously unreeling image. They’re fun to watch, but the superimposition in “Star Wars Wars” adds something new. Two, or four, or six images overlaid make a single new one, and though there are moments when it is easier than others to tease the layers apart, really the thing to do is to surrender to the whole, its shifting depths, its psychedelic light show, its collisions and consonances, its jumbled reordering of memory. The stories may be lost -- not such a bad thing, maybe. (Some fans, having internalized the originals, will always know where they are.) But the new work has its own intelligibility, albeit one that has nothing to do with the original narrative(s) or, indeed, with any traditional narrative at all. And yet there is a dramatic motion to it, an almost musical progression.
I don’t know what was on Rosentrater’s mind -- if he were just bent on realizing a moment’s crazy inspiration, or what. (The trailer for his 2009 film “Clandestine,” made with Gideon C. Kennedy from bits of old ephemeral films, shows him playing with images in a similar way.) But it reminds me of certain works by John Cage, in which superimposed elements following their own chance-determined paths create an unpredictable whole. Chance plays a part here, too -- Rosentrater doesn’t determine how the scenes align -- but he does fine tune them; there is technique involved, and aesthetic decision-making. There are also resemblances to the works of abstract filmmaker and optical-printing guru Pat O’Neill, who was for many years an instructor at CalArts, where his students included Adam Beckett, who would run animation on the first “Star Wars” film.
In any case, it’s something to see.
Robert Lloyd uses an off-brand version of the Force @LATimesTVLloyd
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