Saturday, May 21, 2005

Acting Style Star Wars Prequel Trilogy

America has been so over exposed to traditional Hollywood-style method acting and other "realistic acting" styles, we've come to consider any other form of acting as bad. Also, movies that fall outside the traditional Hollywood way of making movies tend to be either jeered or at least under appreciated. The Star Wars prequel Trilogy stands somewhere in the middle. The style of these movies today is considered very Hollywood in the action, filming techniques, etc. However, when the first Star Wars movie was released, it was anything but Hollywood. Hollywood has since adopted the original Star Wars style for its own science-fiction films. Before this point, the classic style of the old 1930's films had long vanished, and there wasn't enough interest in making sci-fi's to create a new genre in Hollywood. So, even though the original Star Wars movies were groundbreaking, the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy films today are very Hollywoodish by today's standards; except for its acting style.

There are several forms of acting. Each is used to tell a story for which it is best suited. "Realistic acting" (Method Acting, and also variations of Stanislavski Acting), have dominated Hollywood since the 1950's.  In particular, Method Acting best tells strong emotional character driven stories. Unfortunately, such styles are used for almost every movie these days. These acting styles do not fit many types of stories. But, us Americans are so accustomed to them, we are adverse to any other acting styles.
There's a quote from George Lucas about the acting style of the Prequel Trilogy: "It's not deliberately camp. I made the film[s] in a 1930s style. It's based on a Saturday matinee serial from the 1930s, so the acting style is very 30s, very theatrical, very old-fashioned. Method acting came in the 1950s and is very predominant today. I prefer to use the old style. People take it different ways, depending on their sophistication."[001]
Taken in context of filmmaking, without regard for American prejudice, the acting in the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy is very good. The formal acting style (derived from theatrical or stage acting) is used very effectively. It allows the story to be told through a balance between dialog, plot, and character development, rather than being over-driven by character development (as is the case for many Hollywood movies of any genre).

I too used to have a prejudice in favor of "realistic acting". However, the Prequel Trilogy has opened my mind to other forms, not just of acting, but filmmaking in general. I now understand Non-hollywood films and can enjoy them as much as I enjoy Hollywood films. I don't believe I'm alone. I think the Prequel Trilogy is, in part, responsible for the growth of the independent film industry since the 1990's. Thank you George Lucas.

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