by Mitchell Warren (holding an umbrella from the influx of incoming tomatoes)
I know I’m going to Comic Book Geek Hell for saying this but…
Jesus, Harrison Ford get over yourself. You should have acted alongside Jar Jar Binks.
Han-Solo is just one of many visual effects that Star Wars created and Harrison Ford’s condescending view of sci-fi and comic book culture (refusing to act alongside silly characters like Jar Jar and the Ewoks) is right on par with Alec Guiness’ contempt of Star Wars and biting the hand that fed you. It’s doubly annoying considering that Harrison Ford has never actually made a “great film” in the first place, just more of the same 1980s action flick that Lucas and Spielberg served to us.
Admittedly, Ewoks and Jar-Jar Binks were kind of lame, but I didn’t think they were any more ridiculous than Jabba, Yoda or C-3PO. All of Star Wars is a theme park, just like Lucas intended it. A collection of silly aliens forced into a western genre and certainly not going for “art” but for popcorn entertainment. Lucas’ vision transformed Hollywood, welcoming it into the modern age of big explosions and lower intellect.
Fault Lucas for that, if you’d like, but don’t be led into the ridiculous rhetoric that suggests Return of the Jedi and the Anakin prequels were anything different than the typical Star Wars mythos. Lucas’ trilogy was a great experiment, and thanks to his obsession with Americanizing Triumph of the Will, and his Buddhist-inspired “Force” religion, Star Wars hit a nerve. We were consensually seduced by his surreal world, over the top imagery, and of course, the ultra-dry facial expressions of the entire cast, who didn’t realize their world was such caricature.
So why do people insist that the Ewoks or Jar-Jar were the death of the franchise? They were just lighter cherry flavors for the entire slurpee that Star Wars is and always was. If anything, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith represented the “art” that Lucas wanted to create, but was doomed to fail in creating, simply because Star Wars was never intended to be art but crowd pleasing entertainment.
The fact that people thought Jabba and R2-D2 were “art” but Jar-Jar was a cartoon is pretentious fanboy quibbling. Not everybody *hated* the prequels. Not everyone thought Star Wars IV or V were science fiction gold—none of them had the intellectual clout of Star Trek. But no one seemed to actually noticed this until Lucas returned to penning dialog, admittedly a bit rusty.
Harrison Ford himself is just one of many visual effects used in Star Wars. The face and drawl of a cowboy, partnered with a wookiie (but somehow a very serious wookiie in the eyes of the fans) and a man who seems to act “against” the script, just like Bruce Campbell, just like Bob Hope, and a whole host of others, who somehow thought that his unwillingness to be “silly” elevated Star Wars into something it wasn’t—an accidental blockbuster.
Much like Sir Alec Guinness, Harrison Ford resents the fame Star Wars has given him, but unlike Alec, he seems to be unaware that the movie itself is what makes the role ludicrous and it’s not any one character or any one line of script that makes or breaks the film. Alec knew the movie itself was intellectual rubbish but managed to give his best performance even while dressed in curtains. Harrison seems oblivious to the fact that Han Solo was just as an absurd a visual effect as anything else in the damned space soap opera.
The real question is, if Harrison Ford is such a god of acting, why did he bother to make Indiana Jones IV – an awful film? Come to think of it, the second and third installment in the trilogy were bordering along the lines of ridiculous. Now that you mention it, why did he act alongside fellow overrated acting bore Anne Heche but not an Ewok in Six Days, Seven Nights? On that subject, why did anyone actually buy him as President of the United States in all those teeth-gritting, fist-shaking Tom Clancy projects?
Harrison is probably less of an actor than Mark Hamill, who brought new life to his voice over Joker performance, and certainly of Alec Guinness and Ian McDiarmid, who brought Shakespearean pathos to their cartoons.
Harrison Ford’s career owes a lot to Charles Grodin—a man who pretended to hate his surroundings just so he could create a memorable character. Harrison does the same, but with him I tend to doubt it’s a “performance”. Part of me thinks he really takes all this crap too seriously.
While the new J.J. Abrams Star Wars flick will probably be critically well received, because it will benefit from the 2000 era of bleak and tragic story lines followed by massive explosions and sad music, it will succeed as the theme park ride Star Wars always was—regardless of the self-important actor reading ridiculous lines.
I for one am disappointed I didn’t get to see Han Solo acting along Jar-Jar Binks. Because that’s why I kind of go to theme parks for stupid fun and the theatre for real acting.