Gene Edward Veith is culture editor of World Magazine and executive director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. In a recent blog post, he applies the principles of Aristotle’s Poetics to The Last Jedi, the new Star Wars movie.
It might seem anachronistic to apply principles developed some 2,500 years ago to a movie that just came out last month, until you consider that the first Star Wars movies (now referred to as The Last Hope, which would have been news to those of us who saw the first movie when it came out in theaters in the late seventies!) were filled with classical tropes and themes.
In fact, George Lucas was soaked and steeped in the writings of Joseph Campbell and others who wrote about ancient history and mythology. Veith doesn’t discuss this, but he does bring to bear the eternal principles of Aristotle’s literary criticism.
“I finally realized,” he says, “what’s wrong with movies today. What Aristotle described as the least important element of drama has become the most prominent.” He discusses Aristotle’s six elements of a drama, and how the new movie gives short shrift to the most important elements — plot, character, thought, diction, and song — instead giving inordinate emphasis to the least important — spectacle.
Today’s technology has given us, as we say, spectacular special effects. But now so many of today’s movies consist largely of explosions, chases, fights, and computer-animated effects. They often take up more time in a movie, or seem to, than plot or character development.
Read the article here.