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Topic: Star Wars -- Fantasy or Scifi?

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Subject: Star Wars -- Fantasy or Scifi?
Date Posted: 5/9/2009 9:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2009
Posts: 360
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(I just posted this same subject over in the Fantasy forum too)

I have gone back and forth on this subject with myself, so I am wondering what do you all classify it as?

On one hand, it has all the mystical, martial art'yness, swords, etc of a classic fantasy.

On the other hand, it has HUGE technological engines of death capable of wiping out entire planets. Spaceships, hyperspace, blackholes, etc, etc.

I've gone with fantasy myself overall I guess. Mainly because of the fantastical element of the Force.

Do any of you go with Scifi? If so, why?

Bowden P. (Trey) - ,
Date Posted: 5/14/2009 5:38 PM ET
Member Since: 9/26/2006
Posts: 32
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Fantasy. From the force to the space opera to the fact the first movie stole from a Japanese samurai movie called Hidden Fortress. Its got all the fantasy tropes with technological trappings.

Date Posted: 5/14/2009 9:32 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2009
Posts: 360
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Yeah, Lucas stole his stuff :-)  I've got Hidden Fortress on my "To See when I can find it" list.

and since I've gotten more replies over in the Fantasy section, it seems most people think of it as fantasy too.

however, wouldn't the fact that you call it "space opera" make you lean towards the Scifi side?

Last Edited on: 5/14/09 9:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/15/2009 2:21 PM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2009
Posts: 624
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I asked a friend this several months ago and this was his reply:


Short answer: both. Its also a western and a post-WWII war film a la Midway.

Sci-fi is one of those things that tends to merge with other genres. I guess you could call Star Trek or Buck Rodgers straight up sci-fi, but then there's Serenity which is a sci-fi/western, there's the new Battlestar Galactica that was more of a political drama than traditional sci-fi, and there's The Twilight Zone which was mostly social commentary by putting it in a different setting (that's the biggest strength of sci-fi, really). There's also a whole subset of sci-fi that merges with horror: the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers or John Carpenter's The Thing are great examples of that. Alien is the prototypical body-horror sci-fi. In fact, it played a significant role in popularizing graphic violence in horror movies and action.

But back to the original question, the trouble here is that sci fi and fantasy are really similar concepts. Sci-fi really is a kind of fantasy, its just a fantasy with

technology or at least scientific explanations for fantastic things. Star Wars takes it a step farther by implementing a lot of traditional fantasy aspects. The plot is heavily taken from classic stories of the making of heroes. A lot of the elements like lightsabers and the Force are obviously fantasy conventions retooled into sci fi. Of course, Han Solo is a cowboy retooled for sci fi as well. There are plenty of examples of things like that.

So what I'm getting at is that I see Star Wars as the modern myth. It takes classic mythological (fantasy) tropes and reworks them into a sci fi setting to make it more approachable for a modern audience. On top of that, it doesn't really tap very much into classic sci fi questions that normally deal with the nature of technology. Most of the time, the tech is just a given, it's just there, like swords in Tolkien or ships in Pirates. It's part of the setting. Star Wars doesn't really pose questions about its tech (there is the exception of Vader becoming a cyborg, but even then its not dwelled upon like it might be in a classic sci fi film). So really, I'd say that Star Wars is a fantasy for the 20th century, using elements from all over popular culture, and dressed in sci fi clothing.

Paul H. (PaulH) - ,
Date Posted: 5/16/2009 6:19 PM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
Posts: 146
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Sarah, that's one of the best essays on the subject I've read in a long time.  I agree wholeheartedly that it's a modern fantasy myth,and  just happens to be set in a futuristic SF world (or galaxy, as the case may be).  Now if Lucas actually spent time explaining the science, and discussing the morality of their advancement, its effect on society, etc., then it would be science fiction.

But then it wouldn't be Star Wars, would it?

Date Posted: 6/13/2009 7:30 PM ET
Member Since: 9/27/2008
Posts: 370
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Star Wars is an entity unto itself that defies all conventional forms of identification.  ;)