A Very Short Introduction to Intertextuality

Intertextuality—besides being an excellent Scrabble word—is a useful tool for thinking about literature and storytelling.

Intertextuality is when one literary work refers to or places itself in the context of another work. While different thinkers have used the term in different ways, it is often used to refer to cases in which the meaning of the later work is shaped by or depends upon knowledge of the first.

To make things a little more concrete, take the example of Arthurian legend. The early literary versions of King Arthur’s tales come from several different authors across several centuries, each of whom took certain basic ideas about a legendary king and his family and followers, and added in new characters, told new stories, or shifted the tales to new settings. Each of these literary works was engaged in intertextuality, drawing on a set of characters, stories, and ideas that their audience already knew while adding something new and different to the mix.

Or, to take it a step further, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is intertextual with the whole lot. The movie features such staple characters of Arthurian legend as King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, and Sir Gawain, and references to Camelot and the Holy Grail. Even though Monty Python’s take on the Arthurian legendarium goes in a very different direction than the traditional tales, it explicitly places itself in relationship to them. You don’t exactly have to know Arthurian legend in order to appreciate Holy Grail, but many of the jokes are built around subverting or parodying standard parts of the mythology.

By contrast, although Star Wars also makes use of Arthurian ideas—a farm boy who discovers his secret destiny, a magical sword, a wise mentor who disappears partway through the story—it is not intertextual with Arthurian legend in the same way that Holy Grail is. Star Wars does not have characters named Arthur or Lancelot. There is no planet Camelot. Even though Star Wars invokes some Arthurian themes, it does not use them to reproduce or comment on the Arthurian legends themselves: Luke does not become king, assemble a round table of Jedi knights, or go in search of a mystical cup.

We live in a great age of intertextuality, an age of cinematic universes, boundless fan fiction, and knowing parodies. It’s a useful idea to have at hand for thinking and talking about the stories in the world around us.

Images: Still from Monty Python and the Holy Grail via IMDb. Still from Star Wars IV: A New Hope via IMDb.

Story Time is an occasional feature all about stories and story-telling. Whether it’s on the page or on the screen, this is about how stories work and what makes us love the ones we love.

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An Improved Kenobi-Vader Fight for Star Wars A New Hope

Under the moniker FXitinPost, visual effects artist Christopher Clements made an unofficial, improved scene for Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and seamlessly inserted it into the movie. The resulting six-minute clip is all about the final confrontation between Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader, and definitely worth a watch:

Star Wars SC 38 Reimagined by FXitinPost on YouTube

I don’t know whether they had any skill or not, but if Alec Guinness and David Prowse were not competent sword fighers, it’s understandable the scene looks like it does. I have to confess, though, that the clunkiness of the fight has been long bugging me; it also stands out since Lucas retroactively changed so many other scenes. Clements’ version is much more in line with Jedi abilities and includes many intriguing creative choices on how to use the space on the Death Star. Kudos!

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.

Disney Princess Cosplayers Wearing Mandalorian Armor

Ooh—I knew cosplayers were an ingenious group, but this is awesome: cosplayers portray Disney princesses in Boba Fett -like armor:

Tumblr Queens-of-Cosplay Boba Fett Pocahontas

Oh my goodness, the leaf detailing on the Pocahontas / Fett helmet! And the detailing in general—love it!

Tumblr Queens-of-Cosplay Boba Fett Elsa Tinkerbell

The photography is credited to Jonathan York who posts his photos as York In A Box. I haven’t been to confirm it, since Facebook has been glitching for me for some reason. It would’ve been great to read more about the setup and the individual cosplayers’ thoughts.

(I did some searching elsewhere, too, but my google fu fails me for the moment. If you can find a different link, please share!)

Found via Queens-of-Cosplay on Tumblr.

Images by Jonathan York / York In A Box via Tumblr.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

First Trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The name and the first trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX were released last week, and both are tantalizing! Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker again seems to revolve around Rey:

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Teaser by Star Wars on YouTube

Oh my goodness, her leap over the speeding fighter looks incredible! (Even if I can’t quite understand the decision to run with an extended lightsaber in your hand… Is anyone else reminded of running with scissors?) I’m also looking forward to seeing Poe and Finn questing, er, fighting the Empire together—I always appreciated the ease with which they became and remain buddies.

J.J. Abrams’s work has been bit of a hit or miss for me in the past, so at the moment I’m cautiously optimistic about Rise. It will, however, be remarkable to see the end of the nine-movie Skywalker story arc begun when I was a toddler.

A nostalgic tidbit: A New Hope was one of the first stories I remember reacting to and realizing that I really, really liked the stuff with space and robots and dragons and elves and whatnot. Ever since then, around the age of 11 or 12 or so, I’ve considered myself a science fiction and fantasy geek.

And now I kinda want to make myself a sleeveless, hooded tunic like what Rey is wearing underneath her wrap. It’s a really neat design. 🙂

December 20, 2019, seems so far, far away.

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Large LED-Lit DIY Death Star Wall Art

This Star Wars wall art project is older, but a stunner nevertheless: Melissa DIYed an LED-illuminated Death Star for under $16.

320 Sycamore Melissa DIY Death Star w LED Lights

Wow; nicely done. Apparently Pottery Barn Kids used to list still sells a similar art piece for $299, except that one is stretched canvas while Melissa used particle board and an inexpensive engineer print.

Impressive; most impressive (done in my best Darth Vader imitation). Head to her site for the tutorial. Thanks for sharing, Melissa!

Found via Knock Off Decor.

Image by Melissa at 320 Sycamore.

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds

A Lego Porg

Wow – there’s now an official Lego porg.

LEGO Porg Oct 2018

“Features authentic detailing, an opening mouth and flapping wings.

“Also includes a display stand with decorative fact plaque and an extra porg mini build.

“Porg without stand stands over 7” (19cm) high.

“Display stand measures approx. 2” (6cm) high and 1” (3cm) deep, and over 4” (11cm) wide.

“Relive fun porg adventures from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Otherwise it sounds fine and dandy, but does anyone else get an odd vibe from “fun porg adventures”—like being roasted by Chewbacca?!? The marketing department didn’t quite succeed with this particular copy.

Other than that, this almost makes me wish I’d kept my old Legos. Almost—it’s a little too specialized to use inventively in other builds.

Found via File 770.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Quotes: I’m Okay with Living in a House Where a Random “Han Solo” is a Thing That Happens

I love geeks and nerds, and being a geek / nerd. Sometimes it occurs to me, though, how terribly odd it must look like seen from the outside. Exhibit 6,430: the exchange below that Erik and I had last weekend:

Me: *mumbling to myself, trying to remember a detail from Star Wars*

Me: Han Solo

Erik: … I don’t know what that’s about, but I’m okay with living in a house where a random “Han Solo” is a thing that happens.

I’m okay with my life choices. 😀

Some things are just too silly not to share!

DIY Star Wars Marquee

Ashley DIYed a really cool Star Wars marquee. It even lights up!

Handmade with Ashley diy_marquee_star_wars

The base is a handmade wooden sign stenciled, painted, and varnished.

Handmade with Ashley diy_star_wars_marquee_sign_wall_art_knockoff_tutorial-25

Wow. I don’t think I’d have the patience! Full props for such a meticulous job!

See the full tutorial at Handmade with Ashley.

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.

 

Faves from a List of Upcoming Female-Lead Action Movies

Jordan Crucchiola at Vulture listed and tracked every upcoming female-lead Hollywood action movie. It’s divided into sections so that it’s easy to see what’s in development, in production, and postproduction (or coming soon).

IMDB Widows Photo

It’s an impressive list. (I wish its scope were wider, though—gimme other genre subtypes, too, and productions from around the world, please?)

Below are a few of the ones that most tickle my fancy, with first a short description by Crucchiola and then my impressions.

 

The Aeronauts (preproduction)

  • “Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones star as a researcher and pilot team that goes on a science mission in a hot-air balloon. They ascend higher than anyone ever has, and have to fight for survival in the thinning atmosphere.”
  • Apparently set in the mid-1800s, this sounds like a non-mystery precursor to Murdoch Mysteries. I like Felicity Jones a lot, but am dubious of Amazon productions (mostly since I haven’t seen any so far, so take this with a bucket of salt).

A Black Widow stand-alone movie (screenwriter attached)

  • “It was announced earlier this year [2018] that Kevin Feige and Marvel had hired a writer for a Black Widow stand-alone screenplay.”
  • High time!

Captain Marvel (postproduction; U.S. release March 08, 2019)

  • “Marvel’s first female-lead superhero movie stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, an extremely powerful figure in the comics canon. We don’t know much—except that it’s set in the 1990s […].”
  • Again, high time! (According to Wikipedia, Captain Marvel has been in development since 2013.) I know extremely little of the character, but liked Brie Larson in Kong: Skull Island and Community.

Cleopatra Jones (in development)

  • “Details about the new film are not yet known, but in the 1973 original, Cleopatra Jones was a James Bond-type who worked as a special agent for the U.S. government and dealt with drug-related crimes.”
  • A reboot, although nothing I’ve heard of before. Hm. Maybe?

Enola Holmes (just announced at the start of the year)

  • “[A]daptation of Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes Mysteries novel series. Enola is the baby sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, and wouldn’t you know it, a crack sleuth in her own right.”
  • Yes, please! Even more so, since Millie Bobby Brown (who outshone everyone else in Stranger Things) is set to star in and produce.

The Killer (in development)

  • “An assassin with a strict moral code can no longer abide the amoral ways of her employer, and so seeks to get out of the game.”
  • This might be amazing: John Woo is set to direct a reboot with Lupita Nyong’o in the head role.

Star Wars Episode IX (preproduction but definitely happening; U.S. release December 20, 2019)

  • “Star Wars remains an ensemble-powered saga, but this trilogy has always been about Rey’s journey.”
  • Yay! I’m just so sad we can’t have Carrie Fisher in it!

Widows (postproduction; U.S. release November 16, 2018)

  • “Brace yourself for this screen adaptation of a British mini-series from 1983, in which four widowed women plan to finish a heist job their dead husbands failed to complete.”
  • Ocean’s 8 was a great heist movie with a fantastic spread of women of all sorts (except the law-abiding type, heh heh) so this might be good, too.
  • Of the female cast, I recognize only Viola Davis (who’s awesome!); of the male, Collin Farrell (a meh performance in the 2012 Total Recall reboot and a suitably psycho Bullseye in the 2003 Daredevil), Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi in Black Panther), and Liam Neeson (who’s a turnoff for me, but perhaps he’s only got a small supporting role).

Wonder Woman 2 (in development)

  • “The timeline will reportedly move into the ’80s for the Wonder sequel, with the Cold War and USSR factoring in. Jenkins has also teased another love story.”
  • Am I the only one who’s noticed an uptick in movies where Russia (in one of its embodiments) is a bad guy? But: puh-leeeease stop writing forced love interests in movies! Love is great, but we don’t have to have an example of romantic love in every. single. story. Some stories work better without it, or with other types of love than the romantic variety.

 

Image: photo from the movie Widows from Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation via IMBD

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Trailers for Solo: A Star Wars Story

Another Star Wars franchise singleton movie is about to hit the big screen: Solo: A Star Wars Story opens May 25, 2018. Here’s the first trailer (from February):

Solo: A Star Wars Story Official Trailer by Star Wars

And the second (from April):

Solo: A Star Wars Story Official Trailer by Star Wars

I’m not entirely sure what to think on the basis of the trailers. Alden Ehrenreich sure ain’t got Harrison Ford’s charisma, but perhaps that’s because we are only seeing very short snippets. It’s also impossible to tell how big of a part Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian will have; I hope the writers are not only using him for a quick and dirty “this is how Han got the ship now bye” scene. Emilia Clarke’s Qi’Ra seems both competent and charming. And I believe this is the second time my fellow Finn Joonas Suotamo gets to portray Chewbacca on his own (without coaching by Peter Mayhew).

Solo: A Star Wars Story | “190 Years Old” Clip by Star Wars

Yay, Joonas!

Like with Rogue One, the special effects and directing look stunning, so at least there’ll be that. Here’s hoping the writing will also work.

Two more weeks!

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