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Monday, July 10, 2006

The Empire Strikes, Hack

After the phenomenal success of the first Star Wars movie, which, contrary to popular belief, was released in theaters as Star Wars only to have Episode IV: A New Hope added as a subtitle upon subsequent release, George Lucas set out to make a trilogy. This was and still is an unusual situation in moviemaking; it’s rare that a movie is made with absolute confidence on the part of the filmmakers that there will be a sequel. Exceptions include the second Back to the Future movie, the second Matrix movie, the first two installments of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It’s safe to say that all of these movies owe a debt to Lucas, although Lucas also borrowed heavily from themes in the Lord of the Rings books.

Because modern moviemaking involves huge sums of money, it’s not surprising that studios repeat elements from previous successful films. It is however, fun to point out these borrowed elements, and also to conjecture which similarities are coincidence and which are probably intentional.

Although dialogue is probably the most attention-getting part of a screenplay, structure is what drives a movie forward and ultimately leaves the audience feeling satisfied or unsatisfied. It’s not uncommon for movies to have similar structures, where similar events happen in the progression of scenes. In many ways, Jurassic Park follows Jaws' structure almost exactly.

Because it just set a record for a single weekend at the North American box office, and because it points so decidedly toward the third installment in its franchise, it’s worth comparing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest with the ultimate second-in-a-trilogy icon, The Empire Strikes Back. (Also known as Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.)

SPOILER WARNING: The remainder of this blog post contains information about the plots of both The Empire Strikes Back and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Both movies contain a young, idealistic hero character who hails from a working-class background: Empire has Luke Skywalker and Pirates has Will Turner. Both heroes have a verb in their last names.

Both movies have a protagonist rogue character who is older than the hero, and also more interesting. (Han Solo and Jack Sparrow.)

The rogue character in both movies is captain of a run-down ship which is reputed to be faster than other ships in space, or the ocean-- the Millenium Falcon and the Black Pearl.

The female lead in both movies comes from a ruling social class (Leia Organa is a princess, and Elizabeth Swann is the governor’s daughter.)

In both movies, the father of the hero is in league with the dark side. (Darth Vader and Bootstrap Turner.) It’s should be noted that Bootstrap displays redemptive qualities in this sequel that Darth Vader does not evidence until the third film.

In both movies, the “buddy rogue” character owes a debt to a powerful, slimy creature with tentacles: Jabba the Hut and Davey Jones. In both instances, the desired fee is not money but the freedom of the character in question.

Both movies feature a scene that involves going into a swamp for guidance from a weird, mystical sage character: Yoda and Tia Dalma.

Both movies have a scene where a giant monster tries to eat the ship.

Both films have a duo for comic relief: R2D2 and C3PO, and Pintel and Ragetti.

Both movies end with the buddy rogue character bravely entering a symbolic death. Han Solo is frozen in carbonite, and Jack Sparrow is apparently swallowed by the kraken.

More similarities? Leave a comment.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

good one! i just brought even more bran-new emo backgrounds on my blog

2/05/2010 9:19 PM  
Blogger John Howard said...

Speaking of carbonite, it turns out freezing eggs and sperm might do damage to their epigenetic imprinting, or genomic imprinting.

It is funny the wiki article didn't mention the role of imprinting in sexual reproduction, apparently that's a small part of the field. But even that one did mention gametes offhandedly, and there are lots of other articles that come back fro a search on "epigentic imprinting" or maybe "methylation gametes" or stuff like that.

[This is in reply to this FamilyScholars thread]

9/13/2010 9:45 AM  
Blogger Phil Thibedeaux said...


Lots of articles show up when you do a search for "epigenetic imprinting" and stuff like that. None of them deal with what you claim your argument is: that it is unethical to create a zygote from anything other than the sperm of a man and the egg of a woman.

Your argument is
1) hypothetical, since the technology that you fear does not exist.
2) completely independent of marriage law, since reproduction and reproductive technologies in the United States do not depend on marital status.
3) contrary to existing law, since transsexuals are, in many states, legally considered to be the gender that they have transitioned into, even if their chromosomes don't match that gender.

and, most importantly
4) wonky. John, this whole issue is just some crap you made up. I don't mean to be rude, but you strike me as a mentally ill person who has developed an obsession with this science-fiction scenario that has no basis in reality. Even if there were reason to believe that we can one day combine the DNA of two men or of two women to create a fertilized egg, there is no currently available research that supports your claim that sperm-and-egg combination "is the only way to ethically reproduce due to genomic imprinting."

The links that you've posted might explain "epigenetic imprinting" or "genomic imprinting," but they have nothing to do with the same-sex combinations that you are talking about, John.

The impression I'm left with is that you are jumping to conclusions because you don't understand the science involved. Do you have any sort of professional background in evolutionary biology, John?

9/17/2010 10:23 PM  
Blogger John Howard said...

Phil, in response to a FamilyScholars thread where I have been banned from participating, please bring this up over there:

You and George both say that ART does not depend on marital status. It is partly true that ART is not a right of marriage, however, conception of offspring together is a right of marriage and should be affirmed as a right of marriage. Same-sex couples shuld not be declared as having an equal right to conceive offspring together. It doesn't matter that artificial gametes are currently not ready to be offered to same-sex couples, we don't have to wait for labs to offer it before we decide to prohibit it. It should be prohibited now so that children don't grow up thinking that it will be available to them in the future, they should know that if the ever reproduce, the only ethical way to do it is in marriage to someone of the other sex. All other methods should be prohibited, sperm donation, intentional one-night-stands, surrogate mothers, maybe even IVF (though that might be a right of marriage, remember that IVF was originally only offered to married couples using their own sperm and egg and only became an option to single women recently) and we should affirm that marriages have a right to conceive offspring using their own genes.

All the other rights and benefits of marriage can be offered in Civil Unions defined as "marriage minus conception rights." When you ask for marriage instead, you are insisting on giving same-sex couples the equal right to conceive offspring together, and that is a bad thing to do. Please accept that people do not have an equal right to reproduce as or with either sex.

7/27/2012 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll find the similarities in almost ALL hero movies.

Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Humanity's hero stories are almost all parallel, with minor modifications of the Hero's Journey.

7/03/2014 7:17 AM  

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