Exercise: The First 10 Minutes of Star Wars

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Back before the pandemic, when I taught a class called Computers, Robots and Film, we would watch clips of a movie and then use a phenomenological approach. Forget narrative and story, what do the sounds and sights of the film say?

I could write a book on the first 10 minutes of Star Wars, or any film. Here is an example.

The Face

In the first few minutes of Star Wars we see closeups of the faces and expressions of the rebels, but the Storm Troopers all wear masks.

We can talk about the face and humanity, expression, or feeling. We can talk about the storm trooper mask as the commodification of an individual. Unlike theater, we can talk about film, a medium that allows nuanced facial expressions. We can even talk about philosopher Emmanual Levinas and the notion of infinity and the face of the other.

The importance of the face continues throughout Star Wars, but no spoiler alerts.

Color

The most colorful creature in the first 10 minutes of Star Wars is C3PO – the robot.

C3PO is gold. Everything and everyone else is black, white or grey. There is the occasional red Phaser shot or smoke and flash from an explosion. The other color is blue on R2D2.

Color matters in any visual form. It creates a feeling and a mood and communicates to us in a pre-conscious way. We can call this a correspondence – what do the colors correspond to?

No Life Forms Detected

Towards the end of the 10 minutes, the two robots leave on an escape pod with Princess Leia. Two Imperial Troopers see the pod and note that no life forms are aboard. They leave it alone.

Life form was not a good test of value. What does it mean to be alive? Is this even a useful distinction? In our world, with rapidly advancing AI, we may soon be asking the same question. But perhaps we should be asking something else.

Perhaps it is the Storm Trooper that is not alive.

By experiencing a part, we can understand the whole

In philosophy, the relationship between the parts to the whole is called mereology.

What meaning do senses give us? Often, it is more than we know with our rational minds. Focusing on what we perceive through our senses is an exercise that I use a lot. It is a form of grounding ourselves in the current, something we don’t know enough – but if we open up to our senses, we know more than we think.

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