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Style & Meaning in Star Wars: Episode III - Costumes

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  • MG4273@aol.com
    Anakin s black leather Jedi outifit is the locus of many meanings. It parallel s Obi-Wan Kenobi s white Jedi robes, which have a similar shape, with Obi-Wan s
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 1, 2005
      Anakin's black leather Jedi outifit is the locus of many meanings. It
      parallel's Obi-Wan Kenobi's white Jedi robes, which have a similar shape, with
      Obi-Wan's boots of brown leather. It stresses the close ties between the two men.
      And this relationship is the most important one in the film. Lucas drops the
      other shoe at the film's climactic moment, when the duel between the two is about
      to start on the planet of lava. "I always loved you!" a heartbroken Obi-Wan
      declares. Such a declaration of love between two men is extremely rare in any
      sort of cinema. In classical Hollywood, it is found only in "Emergency Call"
      (Edward L. Cahn), "Dead Reckoning" (John Cromwell) and "Red River" (Howard
      Hawks), and in surprizingly few modern films, as well. The relationship between the
      two men, with the somewhat older Obi-Wan teaching and training the
      inexperienced Anakin, echoes the central relationship of the first Star Wars, in which
      Han Solo looked out for Luke Skywalker. The strong similarity in clothes and
      equipment between the two men (they carry similar light sabres as well), is also
      echoed in their behavior in the opening section of the film, which emphasizes
      the idealized cameraderie between the two men, as they function as Hawksian
      professionals doing a complex job.
      All black outfits have a long history in movies. The farmer hero of the
      magnificent "Lorna Doone" (Maurice Tourner, 1922), wears a black leather jerkin
      whose ties and fastenings are even gaudier and more elaborate than Anakin's
      three-level-deep cuff buckles. This was before Variety heralded STICKS NIX HICKS
      PIX in 1935, and rural audiences liked seeing farmer heroes in outfits that
      would have been considered too avant-garde for Jim Morrison of the Doors 40 years
      later.
      Lucas' iconography is most similar here to Raoul Walsh's in "The Sheriff of
      Fracrtured Jaw" (1958). The young, would-be bad guy in this Western spoof
      (William Campbell) swaggers around town in an all-black desperado's outfit. He
      clearly thinks he is evil incarnate, but he is not as tough as he hopes, and he
      gets run over the film's plot in short order. Like Anakin, the Campbell
      character is a young man trying to grow up, and find his place in the mysterious
      world of masculinity. Like Anakin, he thinks a trip to the Dark Side will provide
      him a short cut. Anakin's is motivated, on the surface, by desiring to protect
      his wife during childbirth - the archetypal image of Patriarchy. But both
      Campbell and Anakin discover that they have only found a road to failure and
      death. Steve Cohran's would be gangster in "White Heat" (Walsh) goes down a
      similar path, helped out by the gaudiest charcoal pinstripe suit in the history of
      movies.

      Mike Grost
    • hotlove666
      ... Wonderful, Mike. One correction, for what it s worth - the Star Wars world is set in the past, not the future. Maybe if there s ever a third trilogy, after
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 1, 2005
        --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, MG4273@a... wrote:

        Wonderful, Mike. One correction, for what it's worth - the Star Wars
        world is set in the past, not the future. Maybe if there's ever a third
        trilogy, after Jedi, it will end with the final destruction of the
        Galactic Empire and a small ship carrying survivors setting off for an
        unexplored solar sytem with a promising young planet circling it: "That
        one there, third from the sun..."

        No prizes for recognizing the reference, one of the most famous in all
        science fiction.
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