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March 2008
POD1138 ?
25th March 2008
Much has been written over the years regarding the influences and similarities of Lucas' first feature, THX1138, within Star Wars, and episode IV A New Hope in particular. The dystopian society 'enslaved' by merciless means under a faceless bureaucracy ; the individual who follows his heart, wants more from this mechanised society, and realises he can indeed rebel and make a difference ; the faceless white-uniformed police, and their prodding electro-staves ; the indigenous subterranean dwellers living on the wild fringe ; the fast and reckless chases ; the bright hope bathed in twilight sunshine.
As we were drafting the main plot of episode VII Plague of Doom, Scott and I discovered that we had subconsiously worked in themes from THX ! Along with the usual "B-Movie" template of dangers, leads, chases, and cliffhangers, the threat posed by the 'plague of doom' was the exact same mind-controlling stasis found in THX.
Where Lucas had subtly commented on a 1960s society wrapped up in recreational, illegal, and medicinal drugs - pill-popping - our story reveals the evil Imperial Empire proposing a drug-induced pacification to corral the populace, and then directly affect their identities with mind-altering toxins that would make them pliable and obedient.
Just like the 'mind lock' scene in THX where remote and unseen controllers induce Robert Duvall's prone body into twisting paralysis, such pacification by the Imperials would create a 'puppet-mastery' over an individual, responsive to mechanical or verbal commands. Even Weesla the Hutt is shocked to see the Imperials resort to such cold and callous - uninvolved and unpassioned - methods. THX showed us that this 'police state' can take control over an individual at any time without any notice, alluding to the presence of some sort of embedded control chip or drug inside the victim.
Lucas is also intrigued by the "man versus machine... man as machine" theme, and the cyborg character in Star Wars developed from Kane Starkiller through to Anakin Skywalker. In THX, although there are no cyborgs as such - save for the robotic police - the fact that the population can be remotely controlled on a whim draws upon this theme. For POD, the evil scientist, Dr Bloodory, is equipped with a mechanical arm, adorned with specialist implements that allow him to carry out his spurious work. His own right arm was lost during a particularly risky experiment... but true to his principles, the doctor did not let such an injury hinder him, and in fact ensured that the outcome benefitted him even more.
Most of the Star Wars films have a reference to "1138", and POD is no exception : aptly found in the mind-control scene, the evil scientist Bloodory orders King Oxus to carry out "command eleven... command thirty-eight". With his mind pacified and not under his own control, Oxus is forced to oblige.
In addition, we also incorporated the suffix "4EB" from the short film that Lucas made as a student that was a precursor to the full-length feature, THX1138:4EB. In POD it can be found in the technical name for Mon Mothma's secure comm channel to Barrola the Hutt.
Finally, of course, we have 'cast' Robert Duvall to play King Oxus, and Duvall was the eponymous character THX1138 in Lucas' groundbreaking feature.
Artwork for Plague of Doom has continued, and we will be unveiling new illustrations for the Jedi next month....
In official production news, has been revealing artwork for the forthcoming clone wars series (Yoda and Threepio), as well as highlights from an interview with Lucas himself at ShoWest in Las Vegas regarding the latest on the new animated series. He describes a "Band of Brothers" of Jedi and clones whom we will get to know as we closely follow them on their adventures set between episodes II and III. has scooped some live-action series rumours from '' suggesting that we should think "Deadwood meets The Sopranos", namely following a crime syndicate in a lawless wild west setting, a dark and more mature production than the existing films and animated series.
The media forum, 'Entertainment Weekly', was also present at Vegas, and in their comprehensive write-up on the animation, live-action, and 3D conversion projects, Lucas confirms a commitment to 100 hour-long live-action episodes and admits to a slow process on the technical developments required to efficiently and successfully convert Star Wars to a three dimensional presentation. Once again, Lucas verified that although Emperor Palpatine is in charge there "won't be any Skywalkers" and that "after episode III everyone's either dead or in hiding".
Speaking for myself, although I am very much looking forward to more Star Wars in whatever medium, the thought that there won't be any Jedi, no hum and sizzle of lightsabres, possibly no Luke and Leia, no Organas and Lars, no Obi-Wan, Yoda and Vader, albeit in cameo stories, fills me with anxiety. Without such iconic items and characters, would this production simply become more Sci-Fi than Star Wars... ?
Discuss this news in the forum here !
Nathaniel Reed, 25th March 2008
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