Mailbag – Phantom Menace Edition

Dr. J. received a couple of missives regarding his post last week regarding The Phantom Menace in 3D. The first is from none other than Merlin, himself. You can read him at Merlin’s Musings. And you should check in daily. We do…

He writes:

Dear Dr. J, 

It is with much trepidation and trembling that I write in to offer a possible correction. 

I ask that you excuse all the lighting rods currently in my office. My heart is still occasionally arrythmic from your last, ahem, demonstration of the power of the dark side. 

Now, where was I? Ah, yes. 

You mention that SW:TPM was filmed on 35mm back in 1999. 

That is not my recollection. 

I can’t find the articles now, but I have distinct memories of Lucas using all-digital cameras for all the prequel movies. In fact, there was only one screen that showed the movie where I lived at the time, because it was all the theatre could afford to upgrade to the digital projection equipment. I’m pretty sure that it was actually never released on standard film at all, but remained a 100% digital movie. 

There’s also the fact that northward of 90% of the movie was full-on digital, whether scenery or other CGI effects. 


— Merlin  

Dr. J. was getting ready to strike him down, so that he could become more powerful than you could possibly imagine, and he wrote back.

Well, it appears that I was wrong

“Though it boasts over 2,000 visual effects shots featuring digital animation, environments and compositing, Episode I was captured and released on film.”

Feeling merciful, we shall move on…

Operative JA also wrote in: 

Operative JA

Interesting that you bring this up. Yes, Dr. J. spelled Pidgin wrong. He was tired, and it was late.

But Dr. J. also found this paper, some guy wrote for his linguistics class and published on his blog.  The author’s thesis is that when you look at the script (or in Dr. J.’s case, the novelization), Jar Jar makes sense and doesn’t come across as a total buffoon. That is because Gungan Basic (the Pidgin dialect that Jar Jar speaks) has rules.

The problem is that Ahmed Best, the actor who portrayed Jar Jar ad libed, and his consequent breaking of the rules made it even more painful for us to put up with him on screen than George Lucas’s direction was already doing for the character. George should have realized he was f-ing up and make him stick to the dialogue as written.

Our language centers are very finicky things and we can call shenanigans on jibberish. This is why Klingonese, and Tolkien’s Elven resonate with their fan bases, and also why we loathe Esperanto.

Despite being synthetic, each of them work as languages. Even Gungan Basic was crafted to work, but an ignorant actor and inattentive director messed it up.

About Dr. J.

Dr. J. was born the son of a New Atlantean sharecropper who cornered the market on notoriously delicious seaweed Himanthalia elongata (popularly known as Thongweed). With his newly minted seaweed fortune, Mr. J. the Elder sent his son to attend the Academy of Sorcery, Alchemy and Surgery where the good doctor apprenticed with the finest sorcerer surgeons in New Atlantis. Dr. J.'s areas of expertise grew to include bleeding, cutting for stone, trephination, medical divination with outstanding spatial and temporal resolution, cybernetic sorcery and medicinal alchemy. When King Orin of Atlantis fell ill with the Ick, Dr. J. stepped in with an elixir he devised from a combination of minerals, herbs and saps. Curing the king, Dr. J. gained significant notoriety which afforded him the luxury of time to devote himself to his side hobbies which include porpoise racing, the study of supply-side economics, cooking and raising his lovely merchildren alongside his lovely bride the archconservative Mrs. Dr. J.