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Posts Tagged ‘Star Wars’

A Ledge in Tron Raped My Childhood

May 4, 2011 1 comment

What was I saying about geeks being traditionalists?

A couple of days ago, I watched the original Tron on Blu-ray. It’s the first time I’d seen it on that format, and the first time I’d seen it on a (relatively) big screen. I’m intimately familiar with the film, however, having owned it on Beta in the late ’80s and then buying the original DVD and the 20th anniversary DVD as well. This is the film that inspired me to move into computer science.

And yet never had it seemed so vibrant and immersive as it did on Blu-ray this week. It was as if I had the chance to time-travel back to 1982 and experience it for the first time in the cinema. However, I knew that writer/director Steven Lisberger had made some tweaks, so I was curious to know what the changes were, even though nothing jumped out at me.

Later that day, I did a search to find out exactly what alterations were made. Apparently, the flickering due to an original production error had been reduced, though not enough for anyone to notice. That’s interesting, but not exactly a big deal.

No, the big deal was an addition that strikes at the heart of debates about director’s cuts. Like Jabba the Hutt in the Star Wars Special Edition, a digital ledge has been inserted into a scene in Tron. Or in one shot, anyway

Yes, a ledge was added to one shot. The horror. The horror. Read more…

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Categories: Geek rants Tags: ,

Is Star Wars Science Fiction?

April 12, 2011 21 comments

It’s a common opinion amongst geeks: Star Wars is fantasy, not science fiction. It’s the sort of statement that appeals to pedants and prescriptivists alike (and geeks are usually both); furthermore, it allows for a convenient defence against claims that the science in Star Wars is poor or non-existent.

I’m not unsympathetic to that point of view. At heart, George Lucas has crafted a modern myth, and mythology relies on metaphor and poetic imagery, not rational explanations and plausible events. If science fiction must necessarily be plausible from a scientific perspective, Star Wars is out the window.

However, if science fiction must necessarily not contradict contemporary scientific understanding, what else gets crossed off the list? Try Star Trek, the Alien films and most other popular entertainment with a technological setting, at least on TV and film. Even Contact, a film based on a book by Carl Sagan, implies that radio waves travel much, much slower than the speed of light. Or what about Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) from 1902, widely considered to be the first science fiction film… and yet we have the classic “man in the moon” as part of the visuals—preposterous even 100 years ago.

What does this mean? Are we going to reduce science fiction cinema to a handful of films? Or should we accept that maybe the genre is broader than us geeks will admit? Read more…