Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Force is with Japan, the Jesuits, Dad and Boku

My father was the man who took me to see the first Star Wars movie (it was I think June 22, 1977, Star Wars fan can correct me is if I am wrong, I think it was at the first few screenings) at the old Circle theatre on Timog Avenue Quezon City. My mother wasn't inclined to see a "war movie" so it became a father and son bonding moment.

The rest of Asia had to wait a year after.But according to the Inquirer, Japan is the most Star Wars mad country on earth. I wouldn't be surprised, many aspects of the Star Wars universe has its inspiration from Japanese culture. Darth Vader's helmet is obviously a sort of kabuto and those light sabres are nothing but shinai. I think watching the "Wars" is the reason why I took to kendo when I was a boy. I had Luke Skywalker fantasies that later would be doused when the Empire Struck Back. When I learned that Darth was Luke's dad, I know that fantasy was silly. Dad was no Darth Vader.

By then I had spent time in Japan with Dad. That's where I saw "Empire" with no other than Dad. Funny, Dad may be likened to Yoda (not in looks but wisdom) The year after was the "Return of the Jedi" which is my favourite of the Wars. We cut our science class to see it in the old Greenhills Theatre, when during the dramatic moment when Luke had to fight Darth Vader in the presence of the Emperor, we heard a loud "poooooot". Someone in the theatre farted!

The Star Wars universe is populated by stuff inspired from Japanese history. The Jedis are a cross between the Samurais and the Jesuits. Not just ordinary Jesuits, but Jesuits in Japan's Christian Century. The Jedis were almost extirpated (like the Jesuits in Japan). Darth Vader is a daimyo and the Emperor, well is the Emperor.

The Inquirer writer has this to say

"And of course, who can forget all the Japanese influences in the “Star Wars” universe? George Lucas has said repeatedly that one of his favorite directors is Akira Kurosawa. Elements of Darth Vader’s costume resemble that of a samurai. And R2-D2 and C3PO are reminiscent of the two peasants in “The Hidden Fortress.”

But years later when I was a PhD student in Australia, the enhanced "Wars" were shown. The whole college saw the midnight screenings in a Birch Carrol and Coyle cinema. Everyone was in costume. I went as a Jawa (I only has to wear a brown bathrobe and towels" while my friends went as either 1) Darth, 2) Luke, 3) Princess Leia 4) Obi Wan, 5) Yoda and of course 6) Storm troopers. I am still puzzled why no one went as C3PO or R2D2!

But when the Prequels came, I was an adult and as with all adults,the sense of wonder was gone. There was a lot of dished out criticisms, some valid and some out of spite. The Prequels needed a different kind of Force.

The Force evolves but still with us!

No comments: