Book Review: William Shakespeare's Star Wars
SYNOPSIS: May the verse be with you! Inspired by one of the greatest creative minds in the English language—and William Shakespeare—here is an officially licensed retelling of George Lucas’s epic STAR WARS in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter, William Shakespeare’s STAR WARS will astound and edify learners and masters alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.
REVIEW: First off, let me say May the Fourth be with you! Secondly, yes, this is a real book and yes, it is amazing. I am a complete and total sucker for kitschy things like this and when they involve STAR WARS, all the better. This slim paperback takes the original STAR WARS and completely translates it into the classic Shakespearean language of Hamlet, Macbeth, and all the rest of the required high school reading many of you probably despised. I have always loved Shakespeare but realize that for many readers the book can come across as impenetrable due to the flowery and archaic word choices. Well, thanks to Ian Doescher, high school English teachers across the globe may now have a way to get kids into classic literature.
The book takes the entirety of EPISODE IV, here subtitled VERILY, A NEW HOPE, and retells the story scene for scene with the 1977 film. The addition here is of a Chorus who explain the actions of the characters. The chorus offers the biggest difference from the film, imagining almost a narrator explaining the events on screen. STAR WARS has never needed a narrator to convey the cinematic story, but I could visualize a group of actors dressed in Jedi robes delivering these lines. Here is a sample from the scene where Luke is attacked by the Sand People.
With sudden viciousness the Tuskens come,
They knock young Luke and cause the droid to fall.
They seek to take a harshly pillag'd sum,
Till frighten'd by a false krayt dragon call.
See what I mean? SHAKESPEARE'S STAR WARS is full of these asides from the Chorus that give detail on the action taking place. But, even some of the classic scenes benefit from this new/old take on George Lucas' word choice. Here is the famous exchange between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Death Star.
VADER: For certain, I have waited, Obi-Wan,
And now at last we meet together here:
Our destinies once and for all fulfill'd.
The circle of our lives is now complete--
A student was I when I left thee last,
But now I am the Master over thee.
OBI-WAN: Thou art a Master, Darth, I know 'tis true,
But only evil hast thou Master'd yet.
Awesome. Some of you probably read the iambic pentameter and think it just sounds like every role is played by Yoda. There is a lot more complexity to the form and rhythym of Shakespeare's plays that adds something to the words. Doescher chose something quite challenging when he decided to translate STAR WARS in this way.
I look forward to seeing every one of the STAR WARS movies given the Shakespeare treatment. It would be especially amazing if someone were to mount a production of this version of the story. While every STAR WARS fan has imagined their own unique take on the story, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S STAR WARS is by far one of the most distinctly original and reverent takes I have had the pleasure of experiencing. May the verse be with thee!
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S STAR WARS will hit shelves on July 2, 2013.