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George Lucas revisits Kurosawa

Clone Wars

Newsrama.com reports that today’s episode of George Lucas’s animated TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars borrows heavily from Seven Samurai.

The episode, titled “Defenders of Peace”, was written by Bill Canterbury.

Edit: As I note in a comment below, the episode in the end had very little to do with Seven Samurai.


Discussion

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Jeremy Quintanilla

The animated series is very lame as was the movie I walked out of 30 minutes into, due that ever annoying girl, that despite having no rank, smarts mouth off to all the senior Jedi, and ignores their orders,all to which is supposed to be cute and entertaining.

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Vili Maunula

Well, thanks to the magic of interwebs I watched the episode, and I must say that while there is a connection in as far as the episode has a group of warriors defending a village, I wouldn’t really say that it borrows that much from Seven Samurai. Actually, that bit about a group of fighters defending some farmers is the only real connection, and the motives, the storyline and the threat posed have very little to do with Seven Samurai.

Jeremy, this was the first time that I saw the animated series, and yes it seemed quite uninteresting. Then again, most children’s series these days seem lame to me. I swear they made better TV series when I was a kid (which wasn’t even so long ago) — Moomins, Doctor Snuggles, Nick Knatterton, the Once Upon a Time… series and Postman Pat were all excellent, no? (Were any of these shown in the US?) I wonder if there were others that I followed… those are the ones I can remember.

The animation in Clone Wars was pretty impressive though, I give them that.

Also, it was interesting to note how understandable the episode seemed to me, considering that I gave up on Star Wars about 40 minutes into Episode II (the movie). I thought that I would have absolutely no idea what is going on, but it all seemed pretty straight-forward.

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Jeremy Quintanilla

Can’t recall any of those, but I think Postman Pat has been remade for US recently. Now of days, I just see children shows, with a bunch of stupid, over caffeinated people dancing around sets with bright colors and annoying music, that is somehow suppose to teach kids something of value. Most I would guess are to teach passiveness and self defeat, because they are all about loving and smiling, even when your getting you teeth kick in.

I only remember watching shows that taught stuff for the real world, like not to be bullied, not to take drugs, stay in school, and just don’t be a overall worthless crybaby. No more of the GI Joe, He-man, Transformers, Mr. T, Mighty Mouse, any more. Damn hippies replaced them with the Wiggles

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cocoskyavitch

Vili, the highly evocative names of the children shows you watched make we really curious about seeing them. None of them register at all with me, but they sound great!

In Romania a couple of summers ago our hosts told us that they grew up under Communism and cartoons were only shown on Sundays for one hour and that they were soviet cartoons-not very funny. They said the greatest thing that ever happened in their lives was when their father got a color t.v., and all the neighbors came over to see-and then, when things opened up, they had cartoon network! I’m serious, we discussed the huge impact of Cartoon Network in their lives for a long time, and it formed a bond of mutual sharing as they talked about all their favorites, including all the familiar characters that I grew up with. The said that they learned English, not in school, but from Cartoon Network.

On another note: I remember watching Boris and Natasha in a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon- (displaying the paranoia the U.S. had toward the Soviets in comic form) when I was a very very little kid, and I can bring to memory the image of a castle on a hill-and suddenly realizing that this was a cartoon and a drawing…and was not real! I think that was a huge leap in my understanding as a child.

I mention this because when we look at cartoons through grown-up eyes we have the problem of seeing it as children do (maybe to them it is a universe of wonder…) same as the problem that contemporary audiences experience in seeing art of the past (Art in the Age of Mechanical Reporduction by by Walter Benjamin), or to extend the analogy, the problem of seeing art, literature, film, et al., cross-culturally.

What Jeremy brings up, though, is that values can be revealed in the content, despite our inability to “see” as a native of the culture “sees”. In fact, it may be easier to identify values when one has a distance or remove from the culture or time in which the work was created. I’m not equipped to say whether or not contemporary cartoons are better or worse than the older ones, though, due to lack of knoweledge.

My favorite cartoon of all time was when Felix the Cat (I really still dig the style and design of Felix) was inside an Egyptian tomb, and was a flat Egyptian-style wall drawing. He had to take a bicycle pump out of his bag of tricks to blow himself up into three dimensions. It was such a clever bit, and had everything I like in it-a reference to the illusion of art, Egyptian art, Felix…that was awesome.

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Vili Maunula

Jeremy’s mentioning the Wiggles sort of reminded me of Death to Smoochy. I must have seen it like half a dozen times since it’s one of the very few movies in our DVD collection that I can half-recommend to friends who are staying over and want to see “something funny”. I’m still not entirely sure if it’s funny, or even a very good film, but there’s something that makes at least me want to watch it over and over again.

Coco is so right about our inability as adults to see children’s shows in the manner we did when we were kids. I know that some of the shows that I mentioned above haven’t “aged” very well for me — especially the “Once Upon a Time…” series are something I can’t really watch any more, no matter how much I adored them as a child growing up.

I must say that He-Man, GI Joe, Transformers, Mr. T or Mighty Mouse never really were my cup of tea. But that’s probably why I grew up the hippie that I am. 😉

I did like the green lion/cat/something that He-Man had, though. Actually, I think that I even had some He-Man toys. I seem to remember that I traded my Skeletor toy to a friend’s green cat toy. Oh, those were the days!

By the way, ever since I wrote my previous post in this thread, the Postman Pat theme has been playing in my head on a continuous loop — and in Swedish, of all languages! (As a child I used to watch the show in Swedish, that’s why.)

Fortunately, by chance I today found an even “stickier” song with which to replace Postman Pat: Nneka – Walking

If anyone can actually tell me what the lyrics in the chorus are, good for you. 😛

The other songs by Nneka on Youtube and elsewhere also seem to be worth checking out, if you are into her particular brand of hippie music.

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Jeremy Quintanilla

Death to Smoochy, was a unappreciated masterpiece.

I can recall He-man underwear, pajamas, and yelling down the hall at home as a broke random things. Probably while I don’t like hippies, was troublesome in school, and have a questionable amount of intelligence.

You speak of Crinker, the cowardly pet cat(totally a dirty, passive, cry baby hippie 😛 ) of He-man before he is He-man. To whom later became the reluctant Battle Cat.

I seem to remember that I traded my Skeletor toy to a friend’s green cat toy. Oh, those were the days!

Yeah, that sounds about right, the raw power of a real man, was too much for a dirty hippie like you, so no doubt you would want the wimpy cat instead. 😛

Just messing with you.

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Vili Maunula

Jeremy: the raw power of a real man, was too much for a dirty hippie like you, so no doubt you would want the wimpy cat instead.

Can I use that as a subtitle to my autobiography, if I ever write it? It pretty much seems to sum up my life. 😛

By the way, apparently He-Man is making a comeback.

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Jeremy Quintanilla

I get U.S. rights.

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Vili Maunula

It’s a deal.

The film version will simply be called “Dirty Hippie”, and I’ll have Leonardo DiCaprio play me. The poor thing needs a decent story to act in after Revolutionary Road which I saw yesterday. I must say that I am extremely puzzled about its 71% tomatometer rating — I spent the first half of the movie waiting for the film to begin, and after belatedly realising that it just won’t happen, the second half hoping that it would end so that I could leave the theatre (I’m not one to walk out of showings, especially not ones with DiCaprio and Winslet, however bored I might be).

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Jeremy Quintanilla

So, are you dead, or are you sleeping?

DiCaprio, is really the only current actor I consider worth a damn. He never made to the scale of a young De Niro, but he has come close.

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Vili Maunula

Jeremy: So, are you dead, or are you sleeping?

“Pining for the fjords”, I think, is the technical term.

And yes, I actually really like DiCaprio. He is one of the very few actors or directors these days whose films I go to see without thinking about it twice.

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cocoskyavitch

Y’all make we want to see “Death to Smoochy”.

Hey, Jeremy, who would you have play you in your autobiography? (I once asked this of all my office mates and got some hilarious responses).

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Jeremy Quintanilla

“Pining for the fjords”, I think, is the technical term.

Well, when, one’s not pinin’, one’s passed on.

Hey, Jeremy, who would you have play you in your autobiography? (I once asked this of all my office mates and got some hilarious responses).

James Brown!
Young, old, or zombie makes no difference, James Brown is James Brown. The great thing since he can’t really act, is that despite my ramblings here, I dont actually talk that much, so the whole film would only require a line or two. And Brown playing me, would make people think I got soul pouring out every pore, thus strengthen the movie.
Since in real life the only soul I got in me, is the soul food steak I eat from an all black church every week. 😥

The only requirement is that with every step in his kick ass stride, “The Payback” , “I’m A Greedy Man”, Papa Dont Take No Mess”, and “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” plays or just anything Brown really. Also, at the snap of a finger, he(I) can cause “Get Up Offa That Thing” to play, and a bunch of people come out of nowhere and dance like it’s Soul Train.

But, considering James is playing poker with the devil right now, and I’m not a soul brother. I’ll properly have to settle with a Paul Giamatti or Philip Seymour Hoffman like-character. Although considering I dont look anything like them, I might end getting stuck with that damn Shia LaBeouf, I just hope he comes off less goofy then previous acts.

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cocoskyavitch

Great answers, Jeremy. My colleague swears that he is going to age badly and look like Wilford Brimley, whom he has chosen in an anticipatory move: http://totallylookslike.com/2008/07/15/wilford-brimley/

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Vili Maunula

James Brown is an interesting choice, Jeremy — one I didn’t anticipate. I’d certainly go to see that one!

And who would play you, Coco? (And that’s one funny picture in your link!)

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Jeremy Quintanilla

Vili: one I didn’t anticipate

jb

You have lots to learn padawan.

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cocoskyavitch

Vili, despite my deep love of film, in terms of media I would probably be more of a graphic novel. Something that blended Ghost World, Good as Lily, Tank Girl and maybe a little Felix the Cat . I dunno.

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Jeremy Quintanilla

Can I play Josh and/or Booga?

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Vili Maunula

Apparently, he is at it again: Last week’s episode of The Clone Wars was apparently based on Seven Samurai, and even included a title card at the beginning, which specifically mentioned Kurosawa.

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Ugetsu

I came across this rather forced article by Camille Paglia arguing that George Lucas is the greatest artist of our time. Its interesting that the article gives the usual reference of Hidden Fortress as an influence on Star Wars only with the development of the characters of C3PO and R2D2. I suspect she either didn’t watch Hidden Fortress or she was holding he ‘party line’ that it was just one of many influences (yes, I know not everyone agrees, but to me its virtually a remake there are so many similarities).

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Amnesty11

I had the delightful experience of standing at Inuyama Jo (castle) the other day in front of a hermetically sealed case in which a beautiful 400 year old Daimiyo armor was displayed. It was full on Darth Vadar and I said aloud, without realizing, “Darth Vadar.” All of the Japanese people around me started laughing and bowing towards me. I bowed back, as delighted with their response to my blurt as they were with the blurt itself…

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cocoskyavitch

That is magnificent!

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