Posted by Tom Brown
I feel a lot of goodwill towards Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, which goes on sale in the UK tomorrow. A very different endeavour to my own Star Wars-meets-Shakespeare effort, the new book nonetheless originates from the same starting point as key elements of So Long, Shakespeare. Indeed, one of my first impulses to take the Shakespeare authorship mystery to Hollywood was the conviction that many of the greatest big-screen classics – Star Wars chief among them – shared more a little in common with Shakespeare’s blockbusters.
The theme comes to the surface in Chapter 3 of SLS, when Joe Seabright’s producer tries to persuade the high-minded Lester Howells to unleash Shakespeare’s creativity on Seabright’s all-conquering sci-fi saga:
‘Fact is, Shakespeare would be wasted on The Solix Chronicles.’
‘I disagree,’ returned Jerry. ‘Chronicles is right up his alley.’
‘Really? You reckon if Shakespeare were alive today—’
‘He’d be writing The Solix Chronicles?’ Jerry nodded emphatically. ‘Damn right I do. You of all people should know that theatre was the popular culture of Shakespeare’s day. He wrote to make money, so he gave people what they wanted: big, passionate blockbusters about love and war. Universal stories, just like Chronicles.’
Howells was staring at his feet.
‘I’m serious,’ urged Jerry. ‘If Shakespeare was alive today do you really think he’d squander his talent writing plays for audiences in the hundreds? Or would he write for the masses, for the millions: channel those talents to maximum effect?’
All of which made me smile when I read John Walsh’s take on Doescher’s new book in yesterday’s Independent:
Doescher points out the closeness of Obi-Wan Kenobi to Prospero in The Tempest, of Chewbacca to Caliban, of Jabba the Hutt to Falstaff, of R2-D2 and C-3PO to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He teases out the complex weave of parent-child and mentor-student relationships in Henry IV, The Tempest and Hamlet, and the Vader-like evilness of Iago in Othello and Edmund in King Lear. He notes that, if Star Wars were an actual Shakespeare play, it would be classified as a fantasy – but with elements of history, comedy and tragedy. Don’t you hate it when you’ve spent years failing to notice something as obvious as that?