I’m trying something new here – not sure if it’ll stick, which is why I’m trying it here and not immediately launching a new blog.
I had the idea, partially inspired by this thread on Twitter examining Empire Strikes Back shot-by-shot, to take a single shot from a movie and analyze it / write something about it. This took me on a fun trail trying to figure out just how do people get still images from movies, anyway? It led me to https://www.film-grab.com which is a fantastic resource, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.
With that, here’s a scene from the first act of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
What’s going on in this shot?
Interpreting it in a strict sense, Luke Skywalker is playing with a model spaceship while cleaning up a pair of droids.
In story terms, that’s pretty much the same answer. This particular shot isn’t doing a lot, plot-wise.
What does it say about the characters?
About the droids, nothing. C-3P0 is kind of just standing there in the oil bath, and R2-D2 is…watching? He’s not doing a lot either, probably stewing about his mission being delayed. I think that it says a lot about Luke Skywalker, on the other hand.
In this shot, Luke is pretty clearly playing around with a model ship while he does his chores. I almost hate to admit it, but this is pretty much on the level of watching TV / movies while I’m folding the laundry. Almost. I think it’s probably closer to playing with toys when I was supposed to be cleaning my room when I was younger.
In this shot, we can see that Luke has no interest in the day-to-day life of the moisture farm. I wouldn’t say he’s dreaming of adventure in space, exactly, but you can definitely see that his mind is in that spaceship in his hand, flying around with his friends. (On a side note, it’s almost too bad that the podracing in The Phantom Menace wasn’t a little closer in nature to the T-16’s Luke flies.)
He has no sense of who he is in the larger galaxy at this point – if you put Luke as he is right here in the cockpit of the X-Wing at the end of the movie, there’s no doubt in my mind he’d be one of the casualties in the battle, and Yavin IV would be toast.
What do you see in this shot? Anything I missed?