Featured Question: E.T. & Star Wars

Flimzy noticed that E.T.’s appearance was being used in dating events in Star Wars and asked a “Are E.T. and Star Wars in the same universe?“, the most viewed question on the site to date.

DVK explains that this is the case: Lucas and Spielberg agreed to merge their universes (although they probably thought they were just adding Easter eggs), starting with a kid in a Yoda mask and a snippet of the “Yoda Theme” in E.T. and matched by the appearance of other “Children of the Green Planet” (i.e. others from the same planet as E.T., Brodo Asogi) in Phantom Menace.

HoloNet News Vol 531 #50 has a brief mention of Senator Grebleips (“Spielberg” backwards), established in Cloak of Deception to be from Brodo Asogi funding an “Extragalactic Survey”, presumably the one where E.T. visits Earth (or the one where a member of Yoda’s race does, making popular the masks).

A sequel to the novelization of the E.T. movie, E.T.: The Book of the Green Planet, confirms the tie in by stating that one of the names given to the planet is Brodo Asogi, and Children of the Green Planet is the translation of the name of E.T.’s species.

If you’re interested in these sorts of cross-over Easter eggs, take a look for Han Solo in Firefly, Alien in Predator, and Warehouse 13/Eureka.

SciFi.StackExchange in Practical Use – In what order should the Star Wars movies be watched?

This question was posted on Feb 1st, 2011 inquiring about what the is the best order to watch all six of the the [tag]Star-Wars[/tag] saga movies.

After receiving my own copy of the newly released Blu-ray version of the epic tale, I brought it upon myself to actually do what the most popular, and accepted answer to this question was as a test to see if the answer to the question has merit, or just looked good on paper.

The sugested reading order given by user Mike Scott with graphic by neilfein

56 of the users of SciFi.SE voted the answer “Watch the movie in this order: Episode IV -> Episode V -> Episode I -> Episode II -> Episode III -> and finally Episode VI.” I even upvoted this question. But alas, I haven’t actually watched this series in order (any relative order, in fact) ever. The last time I watched a Star Wars movie was when Episode III came to theatres in 2005. And before that I watched Episode II and I. I never actually watched all 3 of the original trilogy in order either. I only ever watched it when it was on the TV in passing. I did see the re-release in theatres in 1997 but before that, I don’t think I ever actually saw the whole trilogy.

I always considered myself a fan of the series, but when I look back on what I have actually exposed myself to, my main viewing of Star Wars has been mostly the New Trilogy.

This got me thinking about more than just how I voted on that one question, but how I vote on a lot of questions. I fully support ever answer I upvote, but in all honesty, most of the answers that I have given the “big up arrow” to were ones I just believed were right.

But I wanted to change that. I wanted to actually use the information given to me on this wonderful site and put it to practical use.

So, lets get started…

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Featured Question: In The Lord of the Rings, what important background information is contained in the poems?

Sometimes, a fairly simple question inspires an amazing answer.  DVK noticed someone say that there was important background information contained in the poems found in [tag]lord-of-the-rings[/tag], but couldn’t recall any himself.

Personally, I admit that I often skip or lightly skim-read poetry in novels.  Like many fantasy readers, I’ve read Lord of the Rings many times, and I’ve probably properly read the poetry only once or twice (I do remember using one of them in a school exercise, so it must be at least once!).  Partly this is because I don’t enjoy the poetry form as much, and partly I guess I’m assuming that nothing important is happening there and I’d rather move forward to the action.

This question has only one main answer (there’s another, but the question was later revised – I do love the description of The Silmarillion as a “wonderful and tedious read”), but it’s over 2,000 words long!  In it, Gilles explains that although you can get by without reading the poems – as I and I expect many others do – you’re reducing your enjoyment of the book by doing so.  I highly recommend that you go and read the full answer, which analyses each poem in turn.  Here I’ll simply touch on a few of the main points from each of the six books in the story.

In the first book of The Fellowship of the Ring, the poems introduce us to Hobbit and Elvish lore, behaviour, and attitude – there’s also the crucial rings rhyme (“Three Rings for the Elven-kings…”), which is probably the one poem that everyone has read.

The second book of Fellowship continues this, telling us more about the Elves, Bombadil, Dwarves and other peoples of Middle Earth, but also foreshadows events that will take place later in the story, and provides hints at the greater history of Arda that is more fully detailed in The Silmarillion and later books.  The poetry in this book tells us a lot about who Aragorn is, and the background of his and Arwen’s relationship; we also get a hint as to Frodo’s eventual fate.

Just as the travellers move on in The Two Towers, so does the poetry.  In book three, we learn more about the human lands and the Ents.  Galadriel’s poems to the company are particularly prophetic in telling Aragorn what he must do, and Legolas what his fate shall be.  The fourth book is the low point in the characters’ morale, and this is reflected by a lack of uplifting poetry – we mostly get rhymes from Gollum, which help us understand his character.

As we move to book five and The Return of the King, we get many poems and songs about the battles that are fought during this part of the tale.  We get another poem leading Aragorn to the Paths of the Dead, and more background about the current and past state of Gonder and the Rohirrim.

In the final book, the poetry is about the historic events that the reader has either just read through or is about to, and marking the parting of ways that ends the story.

What we learn from Gilles, overall, is that the poems serve to illustrate the various cultures and the mental journey of the characters.  It sounds like it’s time to pull the books of the shelf, and read them properly this time!

Featured Question: Why Do We Hear Leia’s Theme During Kenobi’s Death

[This post is based on our Question of the Week #1!  Periodically, we’ll feature questions (and their answers) that demonstrate the type of question that we’re extremely interested in having on scifi.stackexchange.com.  These questions aren’t just well asked (and answered), but are interesting and worth reading even if you’re not familiar with the work.]

 

Adrian Petrescu asked “Why do we hear Leia’s Theme during Kenobi’s death?“, referring, of course, to the death of Obi-Wan ‘Ben’ Kenobi in the classic Star Wars (or less-classic Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope).  For those that haven’t seen Star Wars, my apologies for the spoiler (and go watch them all, in whatever order you prefer).

During the film, the composer, John Williams, uses several musical themes (the “Force theme”, “Luke’s theme”, an “Imperial theme”).  When Kenobi is killed, when any of those themes would seem appropriate, Williams (and/or possibly Lucas) chooses to play “Leia’s theme” instead, even though there is little connection (especially as known at this stage) between the two characters.

Adrian posits a theory from his music professor:

Kenobi has taken on a paternal role for Luke and so Williams is co-opting Leia’s “feminine” familial theme for the entire Skywalker family, thereby foreshadowing that entire connection.

However, Adrian is doubtful that Williams knew about the familial connection at this time, and so whether he could have been foreshadowing it.

DVK‘s excellent answer references Michael Matessino‘s liner notes on RCA release of “Star Wars: A New Hope: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack“:

Interestingly, Williams uses Princess Leia’s theme at the moment Ben vanishes, deferring to the purely musical effectiveness of the sweeping melody over any apparent thematic relevance, although the theme does reinforce the connection between the Princess and the old Jedi suggested by her holographic message.

In other words, Kenobi’s connection to Leia in Episode IV, as far as Williams knew, was not via Luke, but via her father, Senator Bail Organa (“… years ago, you served my father in the clone wars”).  DVK also clarifies that Williams could not have known about the Luke & Leia family connection at this time.

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