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Movie review: Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens

Dara and I, accompanied by friends Mimi and Layna, have finally seen The Force Awakens.

YOU GUYS. That? That right there? That was a goddamned Star Wars film. And let me put this in perspective for you: do you all know the last time I would have walked out of a movie theater entirely emotionally satisfied with a Star Wars film? That would have been 1980–the year The Empire Strikes Back came out.

And I can say this. Even having had a major plot point spoiled for me (and I am STILL cranky at the player on Dungeon Boss chat who blew that for me, grr), I was still full of the feels. And I have many, many thoughts on what I just witnessed, and I shall now share them with you all!

Needless to say, SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS OMG SO MANY SPOILERS YOUR FLEET CANNOT REPEL SPOILERS OF THIS MAGNITUDE AND DID I MENTION SPOILERS? If you’re coming over from one of the social media networks or from LJ or Dreamwidth to read this, I beg you: please stay right on if you want to drop comments. Because there will be spoilers and I want to minimize their presence anywhere this post gets mirrored. If I see you drop a spoiler-related comment on any of my social media networks where this post goes up, I WILL DELETE THAT COMMENT. Do not make Han cranky!

Han says NO.

Han says NO.

Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding! Let’s get to it, shall we? And did I mention OMG SPOILERS?

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Other People's Books

Cleaning out my inboxes book roundup

Trying to clean up my tag structure around here, which means I’ll be rearranging a lot of the tags I have on forthcoming posts as well as older ones. Like, say, the book roundup posts! Which I’ll be putting under the “Other People’s Books” category now.

Here though are my last five purchases picked up from Kobo!

Honor Among Thieves

Honor Among Thieves

  • Rolling in the Deep, by Mira Grant. Because Mira Grant goes without saying. And also MUAHAHA EVIL MERMAIDS!
  • A Desperate Fortune, by Susanna Kearsley. Because she also goes without saying, and I need to get caught up on her stuff. This is her latest release, another of those dual-timeline historical-and-contemporary romances she does so well.
  • Honor Among Thieves, by James S.A. Corey. Because while the majority of Star Wars novels have been relegated to non-canon status, screw it, this one’s starring Han. Which makes it highly, highly relevant to my interests!
  • The Diabolical Miss Hyde, by Viola Carr. Grabbed this one because it was available for $1.99, and because it’s been getting some good buzz on the blogs. Steampunky followup to the famous Jekyll and Hyde story–this time starring Jekyll’s daughter.
  • Justice Calling, by Annie Bellet. Urban fantasy. Grabbed this one by way of showing her some support in the Hugo brouhaha.

This puts me at fifteen for the year.


Language and Star Wars geekery in the same post!

I finally did cave and buy A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back in digital form. They’re the Special Editions–but the lure of being able to watch them both in French was too great to resist. And now that I’ve watched the first of the two, here are my immediate reactions!

First, and this may seem like stating the obvious but I’m going to say it anyway: French sounds different than English. What I actually mean by that in this case is that inflection patterns are noticeably different–an English speaker and a French speaker, when saying the same word, will put the stresses in different places.

An example of this was any line in which Ben was identified by his full name of “Obi-Wan Kenobi”. An English speaker says “Ken-OH-bee”. A French speaker, or at least the French speakers who did the dubs for this movie, says “Ken-oh-BEE”.

Also–and this was particularly easy to note given that every single line in this movie is emblazoned into my brain, enough that I kept mentally playing the English lines along with the French ones, which was rather distracting–the English dialogue is way more blatant in emotional expression. This had the rather lollertastic result of making Luke sound way less whiny in French than he does in English, for example. Han sounded rather less snide, too.

Second, it was intriguing to see where names were changed and where they weren’t. The two biggest ones I noted were that the name of the planet Alderaan was changed, and I’m pretty damned sure I also heard Han calling Chewie “Chiqo” whenever “Chewie” appears in the English dialogue.

A quick google suggests that apparently the French spelling for Chewie’s nickname is “Chico”. But I don’t know if that’s just because people actually saw it spelled in official translated material or if they were transcribing by ear out of the dub–the subtitles on the digital edition I have, at least when I checked in a couple of places, were ever so conveniently not actually showing Chewie’s name! Meanwhile, French Wikipedia page for Chewie has his full name listed there as “Chiquetabbac”–and from what little exposure I’ve had to French so far, and in particular how French nicknames might work (specifically, for a couple of the members of Le Vent du Nord), that suggests to me that it should be “Chiqo”.

Meanwhile, it was quite interesting to me that they chose to put a -d sound on the end of Alderaan–and in particular, they called it “Aldorande”, according, once again, to French Wikipedia. I’m trying to make a reasonable guess as to why the translators at the time might have elected to do that–perhaps just to make it sound a little more French, since “aa” is not a vowel combination you get in the language. Perhaps also to give the word a bit more distinct a pronunciation, since without an ending -e, that -n would just vanish, so maybe giving it a -d sound on the end made it flow better in the dialogue.

Threepio and Artoo’s names were changed, too, though I couldn’t quite catch what they were changed to while I was actually listening to the dialogue; I had to look it up later. Threepio becomes Z-6PO, and Artoo becomes D2-R2. This strikes me as a likely attempt to get names that got phonetically closer to the original English while still making sense in French.

And of course I have to note that Han also had his name changed! He became “Yan Solo”. Which resulted in this little Photoshop gem by Dejah Leger, poking fun at Yann Falquet of Genticorum! Because Dejah’s just awesome like that.

Yann Solo

Yann Solo

The Death Star was “L’Étoile noire”, and the Clone Wars were “La Guerre noire”. Interestingly contradictory to the subtitles in French, which have “L’Étoile de la Mort” and “la Guerres des Clones”. Poking around on Wikipedia suggests to me, from what I can glean out of the French Wikipedia pages, that the translations using “noire” were originally due to trying to sync up with the actors’ mouth motions. I can see “L’Étoile de la Mort” being a problem, with the extra syllables in there.

Vader also had his name changed–Darth Vader became Dark Vador, and my immediate guess there is because -th is NOT a sound they make in French. Also, “Vador” is phonetically closer to “Vader” in English, since the -er syllable in French would come out as a long ‘a’ sound. I know this just from all the various French verbs that end in -er! And I’m also pretty sure I caught Vader being called “Seigneur Vador” by more than one Imperial officer.

Third, my favorite bit that I was able to figure out by ear was Leia’s holographic message to Ben. I was able to catch “Vous êtes mon seul espoir”–although the “Help me” part of that line was actually “Au secours”, NOT “Aidez-moi”, as I was expecting. So the whole line was “Au secours, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Vous êtes mon seul espoir.” Because when you’re making a desperate appeal to a venerable Jedi Knight who fought in the Clone Wars, you’re damn well going to be using “vous”.

By and large I found most of the dialogue too fast to easily follow, even with the help of the subtitles–but I’m pretty sure I caught one bit of French that was NOT in the original English.

In the scene where Vader is reporting to Tarkin that Leia’s resisting his mind probe, the original English line he has is “Her resistance to the mind probe is considerable. It will be some time before we can extract any information from her.” But that second sentence is NOT what Vader says in French. His sentence ends with “maudite princesse”, and I think, but am not a hundred percent sure, that he may be saying something to the effect of “It will not be easy to interrogate that wretched princess”? I hear “parler” in there, and I definitely know “maudite”, because thank you title of the very first Le Vent du Nord album!

All in all: great fun. On to The Empire Strikes Back! I can’t WAIT to try to parse Han’s best scenes with Leia. 😀


New trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

And in the middle of the ongoing Puppy wars, suddenly, with a stirring of the orchestra, we have a Christmas cease-fire gift showered down in glory upon our heads.

Because the new trailer for The Force Awakens has just dropped, and this? THIS IS WHY I GOT INTO SCIENCE FICTION, people. I think the same can be said for a lot of us.

I posted the other day about my dismay that the 20th Century Fox fanfare has been changed in the new digital releases. And one of the things I said in that post was how the music of the Star Wars movies can make me eight years old all over again.

And that just happened, watching this trailer. That opening theme, set off against that magnificent opening shot, just set my heart soaring.

And oh god. Luke’s voiceover. The wrecked Vader helmet. A stormtrooper who’s a character of color–joining hands with–who is this, then? Is she Luke’s daughter? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

And that final shot. Harrison. OH HARRISON. You’re an old dude now, but goddammit, it’s good to see you, sir.

And CHEWIE! A lot of people have been upset that the Expanded Universe novels have been relegated to non-canon status, but y’know what? When those novels killed off Chewbacca is the point at which I stopped reading. Because I couldn’t bear to read that. And now, here’s Chewie right there in the movie, right at Han’s side, where he belongs. :~)

Goddammit, my hopes are now not only up, they’re flying. I still very distinctly remember getting excited over the Phantom Menace trailer. Forty-six-year-old-me is too world-weary to commit completely to getting excited now.

But eight-year-old me, the me who stared in awe at the Star Destroyer that filled the screen when A New Hope came out… eight-year-old me is shrieking with joy. While forty-six-year-old me is smiling, with a shine of tears in her eyes.

“Chewie, we’re home,” indeed. <3 <3 <3

Bring on Christmas. And please oh please oh please oh please don’t let this movie suck.


So the Star Wars movies have been released in digital

… and I find before me a dilemma: do I want to commit to buying new copies?

For the longest time, the only copies of the original Star Wars movies we’ve had in the household have been the laserdisc release copies we have. Original trilogy–we do not own copies of Episodes 1, 2, and 3, because Reasons. So for purposes of this post, you may assume that by “Star Wars movies”, I actually mean A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.

I have to admit, it would be cool to have versions of A New Hope and Empire that I could watch with a French language track. These are, after all, movies I know backwards and forwards, and it would be helpful to practice my listening skills to have versions that could deliver me dialogue in French.

BUT. Googling tonight to confirm whether these new digital releases were the Special Edition versions (all signs point to ‘yes’), I found something else that concerns me deeply.

Namely, they’ve taken the 20th Century Fox fanfare out of the beginning of the movie.


Han says NO.

Han says NO.

The Verge reports on how John Williams wrote the Main Title theme in the exact same key as the 20th Century Fox Fanfare–but what they don’t say is the story Dara has shared with me tonight, of how they in fact re-performed the Fanfare. So the version you hear in Empire? The reason it sounds so seamless is not only because it’s the same key–it’s also the same musicians, in the same space, with the same gear.

I have in fact just re-listened to the soundtracks of all three movies, since they popped off my Not Recently Played playlist lately. And while I’ve had my share of beefs with the history of the movies during my adulthood, I have but to listen to that opening fanfare, leading right into the grand main title and the bright ringing of the trumpets, and part of me goes right back to being eight years old.

I grant you that people younger than me, who didn’t imprint on Star Wars at a very early age and upon the soundtracks as well, may not have fucks to give about this. But John Williams gave me the three pivotal soundtracks of my childhood–Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman: The Movie, and Star Wars.

Changing it like this is wrong. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

I’m almost as cranky about this as I am about Han not shooting first. I’m still MORE cranky about Han, mind you–as y’all know, I played Han for two and a half years on Star Wars MUSH, for fuck’s sake. I love me some Solo. I am well and thoroughly of the opinion that making him not shoot first entirely wrecks his character arc, because it means way, way less that he’s heroic later if he doesn’t start from the place of being a badass rogue who’s been forced to learn to shoot first and ask questions later.

But I’m also a musician. I’m the flute player who daydreamed about being in an orchestra just so I could play things like the theme from Star Wars. (And who never had a more awesome time in middle school band than when we broke out the Raiders theme, I’m here to tell you.)

And this right here is the thing that may keep me from ever buying a new copy of the movies. Because hearing anything else at the beginning, just before “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, would never, ever be the same.


15 Film Challenge meme, Part 2

The other day I did part one of a 15 film challenge meme, in which I listed out my top three of the 15 films–well, top five, really, because I was counting the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy as one story.

Here now are the films for positions 4 through 6, which I daresay will surprise none of you either.

The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back

4) The Empire Strikes Back

This of course being the OTHER major Harrison Ford vehicle that fueled my years-long fangirling–the movie that, when it first came out, convinced Young Me that I did in fact like Han better than Luke, and got me ridiculously excited when I learned that the VERY SAME GUY was playing Indiana Jones.

Of course, my Star Wars fandom REALLY didn’t kick in until I grew up and discovered Star Wars MUSH, the place that gave me Shenneret Veery, a character who (once I suitably modify her) WILL be showing up in an original novel. But Star Wars MUSH is also the place where I got to be Han Solo for two and a half years. And this movie is the movie I looked to for the crowning glory of my character inspiration. Luke discovering Vader is his father? Pffft. I was there for “I’D JUST AS SOON KISS A WOOKIEE!” “I CAN ARRANGE THAT!” 😀

Note: I am NOT calling out the whole original Star Wars trilogy in one spot here like I did with Lord of the Rings, in no small part because while each movie is certainly interconnected, they’re all still standalone adventures.

Which of course leads me to my #5 movie, which is…

5) Star Wars: A New Hope

I rank Star Wars (which is how I still think of it, without the A New Hope bit, to this day) right behind Empire because at the end of the day, Han’s a flimsier character here. I am, of course, a member of the Church of Han Shot First. But he’s also a flimsier character here and Ford hadn’t quite grown into him like he had by the time Empire rolled around.

Musically speaking, we didn’t get the grand Imperial March until Empire, either. So although the music all throughout Star Wars tugs at my heartstrings, the really iconic themes for me show up in Empire.

But that said, I’ll happily rewatch Star Wars at the drop of a hat. It is one of my very earliest memories of seeing a film in the theater near my childhood house–and I still have a visceral memory of seeing that gigantic Star Destroyer on a theater screen for the first time.

Superman: The Movie

Superman: The Movie

6) Superman: The Movie

There were three movies that were pretty much the holy trinity of movies of my childhood–Star Wars, Raiders, and the third of these, Superman: The Movie. This right here is the reason I love Superman more than Batman, and why to this day, as much as I loved Dean Cain in Lois & Clark and the animated Supes as well, Christopher Reeve remains my prototypical Superman. I absolutely believed a man could fly.

We even periodically watched this at school during free time over the school’s closed-circuit TV system–this being the same middle school that actually took us on a field trip to see Raiders, BEST SCHOOL EVER. And oh, the title theme for this one. Another of John William’s master works, which just makes me happy in a way all its own. Because this is Superman’s music, and it set the template for what I’ve expected out of every Superman theme I’ve heard since. It needs to not only be uplifting, it needs to make my heart goddamn fly. Lois & Clark‘s theme came close, and so did the theme for the animated Superman cartoon on the WB.

And OH GOD Gene Hackman. Over the top? Absolutely. But I adored his Lex Luthor for the unremitting ego and how Hackman must surely have been picking scenery out of his teeth for months after filming wrapped, so much scenery did he chew in this flick. I love him and Otis and Miss Tessmacher and the March of the Villains theme, too, heavy on the bassoon!

Next post–positions 7-9, which will require some thought!

The Internet

Link salad for Sunday

Here are a few links of interest that’ve come across my radar over the last few days. Posting them here, just to clean out some browser tabs, and to give y’all an idea of what I’ve been reading on the Interwebs!

On the topic of why the notion of “Mary Sue” is oftentimes sexist, a thing which has been bubbling around in my brain for a while now:

Mary Sue, what are you? or why the concept of Sue is sexist, from adventuresofcomicbookgirl on tumblr

An Introduction to Mary Sue and Her Critical Uses and Abuses (text) from author Kate Nepveu on her dreamwidth account

On the entitlement and sexism of one particular asshat’s posting of a picture while attending a school play:

“I’m Not Apologizing for Voicing My Opinion”: Entitlement Goes to a Middle School Play from Bitter Gertrude

And on Disney’s imminent shakeup of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, relevant to my interests as an owner of QUITE a few Star Wars novels, not to mention my stint on Star Wars MUSH:

Op-ed: Disney takes a chainsaw to the Star Wars expanded universe, on arstechnica