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 Post subject: William Shakepeare's Star Wars Verily, A New Hope
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 6:31 pm 
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Location: Dallas, TX, USA
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O Obi-wan, Obi-wan! wherefore art thou Obi-wan?

Within the vast universe of the Star Wars merchandise, we sometimes run across an item that is so quirky, so unusual, so unexpected, that the impulse to hit the "Add to Cart" button is irresistible. Such was the case when I saw online the product listing for this book, "William Shakespeare's Star Wars, Verily, A New Hope" by Ian Doescher (2013).

What at first may see frivolous and silly (this from someone who recently bought 2 Darth Vader plush pillows), this book actually adds surprising depth and dimension to the original story. Written like a Shakespearean play, it is structured into Acts and Scenes and makes ample use of soliloquy (in which the actor speaks directly to the audience) to let us know what he/she/it is thinking.

For example, we get to know what R2D2 is thinking (in English, not beeps), and the strategy and dedication to his mission and the Rebel cause:

"My noble purpose I'll accomplish yet -
To take to Obi-Wan the princess' news,
To take my Master Luke away from here,
And, in the end, perhaps more vital still -
To make connection twixt the two good men.
A foolish thing this flight may seem to thee,
And yet more fine than foolish shall it be."

And there is ample use of tongue-in-cheek humor such as two pages worth of conversation between the two stormtroopers guarding the Millennium Falcon after it has arrived at the Death Star, and Luke as he regards for the first time the holographic visage of Princess Leia:

"I wonder who she is.
Whoever she may be, whatever is
Her cause, I shall unto her pleas respond.
Not e'en were she my sister could I know
A duty of more weight than I feel now...."

Contrasting the humor are some very poignant passages, in particular the thoughts of Obi-wan in the moments before he is struck down by Vader. What we see in the movie as simply a wry half-smile belies the noble reasons for Obi-wan's self-sacrifice conveyed in the book, which I will not reveal here.

The illustrations are scant but apropos, and appear a hybrid of a Rembrandt engraving crossed with subjects drawn in a style reminiscent of Alfred E. Neuman from a Mad Magazine comic.

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The Shakespearean diction is interrupted at times when a line is used verbatim from the original script, or when it reduces to Yoda-speak, but on the whole it is true to the classic old form. And the writer's embellishment of the original story is done in a respectful way that pays homage to the original saga while at the same time extending our insight into characters in a manner that is consistent with it.

The book itself is beautifully done. The tan-colored textured pages and scuffed, aged look of the outside of the book yielding a convincing look of antiquity.

For fans of the Original Trilogy and in particular of the original story, this is a fun, clever book to add to your collection. And retailing for US $14.95, it is a real bargain.

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