This is a piece of course work I did, before you read it I'd like for you all to understand, that I am very thankfull for E2 for providing so much information.
Discuss how the role and representation of the Protagonist man in the Star Wars films has developed over the films
From star wars, 1976 episode IV to episode II, 2002
The Star Wars films of the 1970's and more recently 2000-2002 have changed much in the way protagonists are portrayed, but still stick to a simple narrative image, and genre formula. Star Wars is unlike many other films, in that its shows not just one protagonist character, or hero of Propps design but a group of protagonists.
Does the film conform to current and contempary stereotypes
Unlike most other narratives, in Star Wars we see more than one protagonist.
The main protagonist of the original Star Wars trilogy are Luke Skywalker Han solo Lando Calrisian and Obi Wan Kenobi. All of these characters show specific character qualities using Benshops character analysis chart, I can analyse the main aspects of these characters, and their portrayals, and therefore the appeal to the audience.
(See appendix A for analysis charts)
Each character shows very different attributes, with Luke Skywalker a young and pure messiah like character, Han Solo the slightly darker mischievous rogue, and Lando Calrisian being somewhere close between, being both pure, rogue like, but carrying the wisdom to know when each side of his personality is best suited. The protagonist that is a combination of these characters in one is Obi Wan Kenobi. In the original films, he is compassionate, cunning, mischievous and pure, he therefore the embodies the balance between these characters portraying a small amount of each of their unique aspects, it is perhaps this balance between all of these which sees him killed in the first film.
These protagonist characters all relate to the stereotypes of the time, as well as having relevance today, which explains the great success of the release of the new Star Wars episodes. The rogue character Han Solo is very similar to the rogue characters of many previous and later films i.e. Space Hunter Adventures In The Forbidden Zone (1986.).
In the 1970s during the production of the star wars films there were a number of the changes in the world. Firstly the Vietnam War and the containment policies on communism, giving rise to a widespread feeling throughout America of anti - communism.
Secondly the end of the Cuban missile crises and the threat of nuclear attack on America had devastating effects on their feelings of security and again from this threat of assault a serious move for isolationism and containment arose.
Thirdly the Cold War encompasses the above points, and is the general reason for Americas great resentment to all things of different ilk.
Finally widely available forms of contraception, and the sexual liberation that many people where able to explore and enjoy allowed filmmakers too to be more liberal and have fantastic love stories in which women and men are more equal and the traditional form of the women at home does not have to exist.
However with these events there arose an anti establishment mood, hence the Rage Against The Machine that is synonymous with capitalism vs. communism. Rebels working for their own betterment, but also on a lesser scale everyone elses. The empire as communism failed, and became a dictatorship, so has the empire, previously a free republic, it is corrupt, and failed.
The liberations that occurred in the late 1960s and 1970s have a great bearing on the characters of the film, the wayward Han Solo and Lando Calrisian both bent on their own gain first. But also kind and fairly generous, represent a more capitalist character, being interested chiefly in their own profit. The message which George Lucas is trying to convey is that the Emperor/empire represents communism, and the Emperor fails this shows that communism fails. Whilst communism is all well and good in theory, is shown as a failure also. Luke Skywalker represents a balance between communism and fascism in which a unity and bond such as communism is achieved, whilst the capitalist ideals of self before others is also preserved and achieved.
This possibly is statement by George Lucas promoting a more liberal self-governing system, which suits the changing times, in its flexibility and ability to evolve to confront new problems. Which capitalism or communism have not had individually had the ability to cope with. Showing that both far right and far left policies have no place in a new society, and a more Capitalist balance is required. Star Wars is therefore a self congratulatory text as one is led to believe that America, represented by Luke Skywalker is the ideological viewpoint of America, that it is the perfect balance of altruism and self preservation.
Portrayal of characters in relation to current stories, myth, legend and lore.
Although the characters in the Star Wars Films are many and varied, and their exact alignment be it good or evil, protagonist or antagonist, all has a great bearing on the plot. There are lesser characters who although seeming small are however still of great importance within the narrative structure. These characters have been summarised as the good the bad and the ugly, by Brahman.
"The good" and "the bad" set up Star Wars for the classic theme of battles between good and evil. "The ugly" adds interest and flavour to the plot.
In relation to the relevance of these characters to current stereotypes
, there is still relevance, depending upon genre
. The protagonist
may be any of the characters, in horror
pure and well balanced character is most usually a protagonist
, i.e. Nightmare on Elm Street
of the 1980s, Nosforartue
of the 1930s and more recently dog soldiers
2002, a story of werewolves
This change of character portrayal throughout film has shown that even though genre changes with time, there are many continuous strains within certain genres, such as protagonist characters, which do not change. These unchanging archetypes span all genres and these pure and roguish set of characters are both in themselves Archetypes.
The pure Oliver twist from the Book and later play and motion picture, shares an extreme likeness to that of Luke Skywalker both born into humbleness and yet destined from lowliness to achieve greatness.
These portrayals are very similar to the Christian belief] that Jesus Christ being the saviour of mankind and Son of God, was born into the lowly house of David, and was born into a kingdom under the rule of the tyrannical oppressor Herod. These all to similar likenesses can be explained through the fact that the majority religion in control of the institutions where in fact the Christians, and therefore there are likely to be a great many resemblances to the many stories of the Christian faith.
Further more the representation of Women in the Star wars films, in relation to that of the Bible and of pieces of mythology are again very similar. The helpless prisoner Princess Leia is captured only to be rescued by a Hero, this neat symbolism, fits in nicely with Propps Character definitions of the Hero, Donor, Princess or prize.
The story lends itself and the character many myths and legends, Germanic Lore has great significance to the characters and their development, such myth as Parsifal, the names too contain much in the way of Germanic background, for instance the name Darth Vader has a startling similarity to that of "Vater" which in German means Father, and he is Luke's father.
Other Legends and myth, which George Lucas seems to have included in the narrative are, The Oedipus theme, theme of the lost prince, smuggled out of danger as a baby, only to regain power later, there are also similarities to the Fisher King theme.
I dont know who noded this however here it is
The 1958 film The Hidden Fortress directed by Japanese film-director Akira Kurosawa.
Are these representations of the ideal man
The characters each have different character types and personalities, these many variances should each show the different representation of an ideal man, encompassing all aspects of the characters, and being a well rounded individual.
Luke Skywalker is a very numinous character he has a set destiny, and it is part of an ancient prophecy foretelling a man who will bring true balance to the force and therefore all things both living and inanimate. As a character he can be likened to a saint, or messiah, Jesus Christ figure sacrificing his ordinary life, for that of a Jedi knight, and protector/saviour of others.
Han Solo is a very charismatic character, he uses charm and absolute self-confidence, as he is not an extremely gifted character academically. However the audience is shown it is his twisted intelligence and brute strength that win the day. That and his attitude of "if its broken kick it" is highlighted in the fifth episode "the empire strikes back". Han Solo when being chased by the galactic empire in their star destroyer space ships, has major engine problems in his millennium falcon. Han Solos next action is to hit the star drive, and give him the ability to escape.
The character Lando Calrisian is a more conservative rogue, having seen the majority of his own battles he now has settled down, and takes on the characteristics of a married man. Having been tamed by marriage his reckless years as a rogue are now over, and he has a long leisurely life ahead of him.
The character Obi Wan Kenobi is much more a father or uncle figure both teaching and guiding using wisdom to help rather than hate.
Of all of these characters, they can possibly represent an aspect or perhaps the stages of life of an ideal man.
The young innocent Luke Skywalker representing childhood, the ideal child of course being good willing to learn obedient and compassionate. Whereas Han Solo represents an adolescent/post adolescent stage, he is charismatic energetic and roguish, whilst also being selfish and subtly sexual. Lando Calrisian represents a middle-aged man, he has settled down, and created an attractive stable lifestyle as either bachelor or married man.
Then the character Obi Wan Kenobi is a more fatherly/grandfatherly figure, he has seen years, and many things. But because of his learning he has realised many things, and has attained great knowledge and wisdom. Whilst still showing compassion a stage further than Lando Calrisian's.
All of these representations of the ideal man, however are seen by myriad of views, Laura Mulvey's male gaze theory here highlights that each of these portrayals of men are the creation of a man George Lucas.
Luke Skywalker is the ultimate point for young adolescents to aspire to, being both courageous and caring, then Han Solo the "mans man" an adolescent or young mans point of aspiration, he is the balanced mix creating an ideal man, he is both, debonair and daring defiant of oppression, and willing to take risks for his own satisfaction.
Lando Calrisian is the middle aged mans aspiration he has gained all the material wealth he can wish for, and now he looks and waits for companionship, or possibly a sense of excitement, which he may have had to give up to get to the point he is at now. This is very appealing to the predominantly male audience.
In juxtaposition to that of Han Solo and Lando Calrysian is Obi Wan Kenobi, he has lived the vast majority of his life, and has forsaken the material world for spiritual gain. He is very much an older man, he cares little his own welfare in comparison to that of others he is the ideal old man caring, but not without his sense of adventure.
What is it that creates the ideal man nature or nurture, and how do the protagonist characters relate to the ideal man?
Luke Skywalker is the son of senator Amidala and the Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker, however he is unaware of this heritage, as he lives with his uncle in a small holding on the desert planet of Tattouie, there he is raised as a traders son, learning the skills of maintaining androids, and basic farming and cultivation such as green housing. He rarely travels to the cities or townships, as his life is very much orientated towards his home.
However when the imperial storm troopers slaughter his family, it is Obi Wan Kenobi who takes him in and tells Luke of his true heritage, it is his abilities as a Jedi and user of the force. Luke is nurtured to be respectful and considerate, learning both basic farming and trading, and robotics, and electrical mechanical systems. However, it is his true nature as a Jedi which moulds and shapes and guides him to have his innocent caring exterior, whilst implicitly being cunning and wise to the Jedi ways.
Han Solo seems to have been greatly affected by his environment and nurturing, he has lived in a place where it is very much the strongest survive. He has had to rely on every strong aspect of his original nature, to survive. Furthermore his environment has crafted him so that he has skills as a trader and smuggler, he has built up an intuition much alike the Jedi's powers, however his allows him to read analyse and evaluate the situations he finds himself in. It is to a great extent that Han Solo's experience and nurturing has shaped him to be a survivor of not only the mundane trials of life, but also of the life of an outlaw and smuggler.
Lando Calrisian is very much alike Han Solo in that he began his life in the same circumstances as Han Solo, and as a smuggler and advocate of many illegal activities, however his characteristics are very different to those of Han Solo. He has gone legitimate and now is the ruler of his own city, as well as being a citizen of the empire he once opposed.
Development over the 26 years between episodes 1 and 2 in regard to episodes 4, 5 and 6 of the 1970s
The representation of the characters are presented to the audience in a series of scenes, in each scene a little more of the character is learnt, in this respect the later films are very similar to those of the 1970s.
The similarities between characters of the episodes 4, 5, and 6 and those of 1 and 2, are exhibited, most probably because George Lucas, the director/producer/writer, has again written directed and produced these two new films.
The character representation are still very similar to those of the 1970's, we as the audience, still see and hear in the new films, the same type of cynical and witty jokes made between the characters, "I'm beside myself" as C3P0 has his head knocked beside his body.
The characters of the new films, have also been very well portrayed, in relation to that of the old films, the Jedi Obi Wan Kenobi is very consistent, the new played by Ewan Mcgreggor, is very true to the original character. And has managed to create a continuity between the characters, as the time line would have originally run i.e. episode 1 ¡V 6.
However whilst many characters, such as C3PO have all stayed true to their original definition of the first three episodes, 4, 5 and 6. The protagonist who is the equal to that of Luke Skywalker, in the original films, Anakin Skywalker, Has changed very much. In the new films Episode 1(2000) Anakin is represented as a boy wonder, he astounds the audience with feats of bravery, and he is still young and pure and can be likened to Luke Skywalker. However in the recent Episode 2 (2002) Anakin has been portrayed more like that of Han Solos character, that while he fights the good fight the audience are left perplexed as to what his exact motives are.
Because of his odd and arrogant attitude towards his use of the force, which is seen by Obi Wan as greedy and unconscious to the repercussions, it can have on him.
The audience accepts this the characters, because they are very well portrayed in relation to that of the original films, the language and attitude of the characters, are very similar, and close to matching.
The sets and scenes used again are extremely similar, the audience revisits much in the way of landscapes and props of those shown in the original films. What helps Lucas is that with his recent re releases of the original films which have been digitally re mastered the audience have seen much in the way of the new special effects of cinema, and CGI. (Computer generated image)
The audience, which likely watches these films, is vast, many of the original film's audience will undoubtedly want to be astounded by them once more. But not only that, their children of the next generations will also be taken to see the films. Therefore Lucas has a grand audience many of which will be extremely well versed in the star wars films, many of which will be first time viewers. But many of the audience will not decode the information presented.
This is much alike the hypodermic needle theory the audience is filled with the encoded information Lucas has filmed, and the audience does not decode it in any other way than Lucas decides it should be decoded.
However in juxtaposition to this much of the audience will take an active role in decoding Lucas's encoded ideologies and representations.
The role and representation of the protagonist man in the star wars films have changed considerably, in the past the protagonist was pure and well balanced Luke Skywalker - but in the new films the protagonist has been extremely aggressive snide and arrogant Anakin Skywalker.
This change in the protagonist¡¦s representation of originally having different characters, portraying different aspects of a positive role model, can be linked directly with the changing anxieties of society which the films find themselves in. In the past it was a dominant ideology of western culture that at certain ages and positions specific attributes in a person should be drawn out.
Whilst this ideology is still very visible in the culture of today, Lucas saw that he had to make the films appeal to a wider audience, so that he could make more money. This is why the characters have had to change so that there is an appeal to a range in the audience, male or female young or old.
However even though there is character change Lucas has still kept much in the way of original characters core personalities role and portrayals.
„h The Star wars films episode 1,2,4,5, and 6
Chances of Happiness
Luke¡¦s life expectancy seems fairly short because of his sacrificial nature
- He has a tendency to try and lay down his life for others, even though he puts himself in these situations he still survives.
No sexual relation - possibly linked to his portrayal of
No marriage the Jedi order forbids relations however he feels a strong connection with his family.
Believes in the force a good force that controls everything.
Although he faces many trials and feels much strife he finds happiness with his love of his friends and companions
believes in his instinct and intuition
Han¡¦s life expectancy seems fairly long, as he looks after himself, and makes sure he always has a route of escape, an easy way out of any situation
Although he is very flirtatious and roguish, the audience aren¡¦t permitted to know if he does or doesn¡¦t have sexual relation
He has no obvious marriage or relationship, however it is evident that he holds the princess in extremely high regard He has no religion ¡§I¡¦ve Been from one end of the galaxy to the other kid and I¡¦ve never seen a force that can control it all.¡¨
He is happy with his life of roguish exploits, even if they land him in trouble.
He seems sane and stable, however he does make rash decisions which seem insane.
His life seems to be fairly long, his life can be likened to that of a pirate king, he has taken his own city and now governs it fairly.
No sexual relation to speak of and he is not flirtatious
(seems to point to a wife at home)
No marriage to speak of
(again points to a wife at home)
No religion he believes in self dependency, rather than believing in others assurances
He is very happy with his city home, however he knows that he must act to save it and his friends from the ¡¥evil¡¦ empire.
He is stable and down to earth
willing to turn back to his roguish side if decision and risks need be taken
Obi Wan Kenobi
Obi Wan¡¦s ¡¥suicide¡¦ death to save his friends ensures his limited life, however, he comes back in these original films as a ghost.
No sexual relations
He believes truly in the force, and it is the force, which allows him to continue his existence as a ghost.
Obi Wan is always very happy and content, he knows he has a set role in the prophecy, and he has accepted it.
Obi Wan is the most san of all the characters, he has no foolishness of youth or of being a rouge.
Anakin although very rash and seemingly suicidal in his hectic life, seems to always survive, coming off in top, this corresponds, with his prophecy, that he can use the force and bend it to his will.
Anakin has no sexual relations, however he is deeply in love with the princess Padme.
Anakin gets Married at the end of episode two to his love Padme
Anakin also believes strongly in the force, but he believes, the Jedi¡¦s are there to use it not to police it.
Anakin¡¦s chances of happiness are very high, and these are mostly dashed with his mother¡¦s death, but he finds happiness with his wife, but his mother¡¦s memory still haunts him.
Anakin seems stable, but at the same time he is reckless, and it seem that on a lower level he can easily go insane and lose control.
„h Male protagonists
1. Luke Skywalker
2. Han Solo
3. Obi Wan Kenobi
4. Lando Calrysian
5. Anakin Skywalker