Films play an important role in defining the similarities and differences between various societies. With increased globalization, the cultural divide between various societies can be well brought out through film and literary presentations.
With advancements in technology, modern films have effectively represented the leaps in technology behind making the outer space happen. This paper seeks to provide an opinion on the portrayal of otherworld spaces through analysis and comparison of the films Watchmen directed by Zack Snyder and Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope directed by George Lucas. Greater emphasis is given to how the otherworld has been differently covered in the two films through exposing the similarities and differences. Notably much importance would be given to how film directors have artistically used the otherworld in the films to bring out the main themes.
The incorporation of otherworldly spaces in George Lucas’ Star Wars and Zack Snyder’s Watchmen has helped make the films more believable and memorable. There are two ways in which the otherworld space can be created in a film. This can be through character and characterization with regard to vocals and submission or through the geographical setting. Character and characterization would play an important role in defining the otherworld space because of the perception of characters with regard to their surroundings. Submissions and confessions made by characters would be graded with reference to what is considered as realist and that which could be seen as mystical. Use of both approaches would indicate that both Lucas and Snyder have literally created the otherworldly spaces within their films to help bolster the themes and make these two films believable.
The otherworld is well presented in the film Watchmen through the comparison of the human person with other non-human beings. The film is directed under the setting of both the Earth and the Mars. At the beginning of the film, the viewer is introduced to “Minutemen” uniformed crime fighters that have been supported by the US government top help fight increasing crime as a result of the activities of costumed fighters. It is under these circumstances that Dr.
Manhattan gains popularity within government circles and helps Richard Nixon get another term in office (Moore and Gibbons). However, the threat posed by Soviet Union as regards to nuclear war is imminent, resulting into outlawing of armed groups and by extension the “Minutemen”. It is this banning of outlawed groups that Dr. Manhattan and others in their group run into suspicion of each other as the crackdown continues. “Star Wars,” on the other hand is an epic space opera film.
This film had its script developed and directed by George Lucas. Unlike “Watchmen,” “Star Wars” takes a paradigm shift in terms of its setting. Much of its setting is based on imaginary places. This ranges from various planets including planet of Alderaan and the galaxy. The film begins where the galaxy is in a civil war and constantly spies into the Rebel Alliance which has plans to destroy an entire planet. In the film, the rebel alliance is presented as thieves who have stolen plans to the Galactic Empire’s Death Star.
Move of the unveilings in the film rotates around the struggle to regain this plan and prevent destroying the whole planet (Reynolds, Jenssen, and Chasemore 143). By the end of the fighting, the Death Star space station is brought back from the rebel fighters. The most notable differences between “Watchmen” and “Star Wars” comes with the extent to which the otherworldly spaces are covered in these films. In “Watchmen,” there is very limited coverage of the otherworldly space. For this film, the otherworldly space is brought out through the desire by Dr. Manhattan to run away from the challenges he and Jupiter were facing.
Even though this otherworldly space is well illuminated; it does not cover a large part of the film. From all the characters and the characterization covered in the film, it is only Dr. Manhattan and Jupiter who opt to get into the planet Mars. On the other hand, “Star Wars” is more or less a mythical film with most of its scenes, character and characterization casted on imaginary world.
Virtually every other scene in this film is based or acted on the otherworldly space. The otherworld spaces in “Star Wars” have dominated the film that one would at times be in a difficult position to associate the scenes with realism except for individual takes on scenes. Furthermore, the comic book writer Alan Moore of “Watchmen” has been very effective in bringing out the otherworld as is represented by planet Mars. The documentaries on Discovery and National Geographic channels about planet Mars nowadays are outstanding and for Alan Moore to write about planet Mars in the 80’s was phenomenal.
In the first encounter, Moore has brought out the ordinary scenes in which different groups fight each other on planet Mars. From its adaptation into the scenes in the film by Snyder, one would clearly enjoy the experience of the otherworld. Moore’s decision to take the viewers into planet Mars is what creates the difference and yet keeps the viewers in agreement that such an event can also take place in the real world. However, Mars is not part of the earth and moving into the planet Mars may not be as easy as it could be as it was depicted in the film. Although an acknowledgement must be made that the planet Mars exists in the minds of many due to Moore’s powerful writing.
The “Star Wars” films have proven to audiences that George Lucas as a person who is well versed in utilizing fiction to create a perception of reality, albeit, for the moment we would be watching the film. While watching the Star Wars, one would no doubt discover that they are in the otherworld and yet believe in all that is happening making the interactions between various characters from the planet, the Alderaan, and the galaxy is not an easy task. However, Lucas has made this possible through provision of insightful scenes. The otherworldly in the film is grounded in “space opera”.
In this film, the human feeling of yearning, of almost anticipatory anxiety is well demonstrated through the strange aliens, colored light sabers and the flashy lasers. On the other hand, Moore presents a direct change in space between planet Earth and planet Mars. Both “Watchmen” and “Star Wars” have conceptualized the otherworld through the peculiarity of the events covered in various scenes. In “Star Wars,” the space is so conspicuous that it may even be difficult to have it fitting into the film frame. Lucas presets the protagonist, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is presented gazing up at the night sky of Tatooine.
Forget about Tatooine being an imaginary location created by Lucas, Skywalker wonders ‘what awaits him? Where will he go next? When does his life really begin? ” This internal monologue has successfully helped in creating the otherworld effect as the viewer is made to think about the hereafter. The same can be said of the film Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan has to think about humanity and how it relates to the two spaces, the earth and the planet Mars. The comparison given by Dr. Manhattan of these two planets (Mars and Earth) tends to create the otherworld space within the film.
At first, Dr. Manhattan confesses that he is ‘no longer interested in humanity’ when asked to help save that earth. However, after soul searching, he makes a decision to get back on earth. Both Lucas and Moore have not built up their own concept of geographical setting. Instead, they have chosen to operate in such a big universe with various options for take.
For Lucas, his universe was not built as he goes ahead thrusting his characters and characterization into various locations, citing the galaxy, the planet and the Alderaan. None of these names are linked to any of the modern day planets. On the other hand, the Watchmen takes the same approach acknowledging with regard to the planet Mars. This could be explained through use of names of planets including the Earth, Mars and Jupiter.
In this case, the otherworldly space is portrayed through Dr. Manhattan’s inability to survive in Mars and his decision to return to the planet Earth, together with Jupiter. The citation of New York City and the choice of Manhattan, which refers mainly to the Central Business District in New York, have helped in portrayal the unveilings of the film as being real. Otherworldly space can be an important tool through which film directors can effectively pass across their main messages.
Otherworldly spaces help in creating a connection between the real and the abstract world. In Watchmen, Snyder has used this tool to connect between the abstract and the real world from Alan Moore’s effective writing, thereby, making the story believable. On the other hand, Lucas has incorporated the otherworldly spaces in an artistic manner to make Star Wars sound real and become memorable even when it is all but fictional.
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