|(C) 2015 Quirk Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.(Lucas Books)|
THREEPIO, THREEPIO, WHEREFORE ART THOU, THREEPIO?
Join us, good gentles, for a merry reimagining of Star Wars: Episode I as only Shakespeare could have written it. The entire saga starts here, with a thrilling tale featuring a disguised queen, a young hero, and two fearless knights facing a hidden, vengeful enemy.
’Tis a true Shakespearean drama, filled with sword fights, soliloquies, and doomed romance . . . all in glorious iambic pentameter and coupled with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations. Hold on to your midi-chlorians: The play’s the thing, wherein you’ll catch the rise of Anakin! - From the dust jacket blurb, William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace
Since its premiere on May 25, 1977, the title of George Lucas’s space-fantasy set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” evokes futuristic images of speedy starships, flashing laser swords, and snappy dialogue written in modern American English. For film buffs, Star Wars also stirs memories of the Errol Flynn movies (Captain Blood) and Saturday matinee serials (Flash Gordon) that inspired Lucas to create his blockbuster saga.
William Shakespeare’s name evokes images from an older, less technological age. Say “Shakespeare,” and visions of actors on wooden stages and elegant English nobles wearing expensive clothes made of cotton, furs, lace, satin, silk, and taffeta immediately flash in your mind.
But what would the Star Wars saga look like if the Bard of Avon had written it in his lifetime?
This is the clever conceit behind author Ian Doescher’s delightful William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series.
From 2013 to 2014, the Portland (Oregon) resident adapted Lucas’s Classic Star Wars Trilogy into three Shakespearean-styled plays: Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope, The Empire Striketh Back: Star Wars Part the Fifth, and The Jedi Doth Return: Star Wars Part the Sixth.
Now, Doescher continues the series by tackling the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy.
On April 7, 2015, Quirk Books published William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First, a reimagining of Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999).
As in the first three books of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series, Doescher revisits the plot of Lucas’s “expository” chapter of what is known as the Tragedy of Darth Vader.
In The Phantom of Menace, the once-stable Galactic Republic is showing signs of decay. Powerful commercial interests have corrupted the political process, and a mysterious Sith Lord named Darth Sidious is manipulating events to create a crisis around the taxation of trade routes. Sidious, aided and abetted by the greedy Trade Federation, orders a blockade of the planet Naboo to weaken Chancellor Valorum’s leadership and push him out of power.
Valorum dispatches two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, to negotiate a settlement with the Trade Federation and end the blockade. But Sidious orders his Neimoidian minions, Nute Gunray and Rune Haako, to kill the Jedi, invade Naboo with an army of droids, and force young Queen Amidala to sign a treaty with the Trade Federation.
Unless you’ve been stranded on the ice planet of Hoth without Holo-Net access, you know the rest of the story. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan escape to Naboo, meet Jar Jar Binks, and snatch the queen from the invading battle droids’ grasp. After they run the Trade Federation’s blockade aboard a Naboo starship, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, the queen, and her retinue of bodyguards and handmaidens end up on Tatooine.
ACT 2, SCENE 1
Aboard the Trade Federation battleship.
SIDIOUS My patience runneth out, so tell me true:
Hath Amidala signed the treaty yet?
NUTE My lord, with trepidation I report:
The queen hath disappeared. There was one ship
From small Naboo escap’d our stout blockade.
SIDIOUS That treaty shall be sign’d! I will it so.
NUTE But ‘tis impossible to find the ship.
It lies beyond our range of scope or measure
Enter DARTH MAUL on beam with DARTH SIDIOUS on beam.
SIDIOUS For thy weak instruments, perhaps, but not,
I tell thee truly, for a Sith.
Behold my Sith apprentice: Darth Maul he.
Your lost ship shall be swiftly found by him.
(Exeunt Darth Sidious and Darth Maul from beam.)
Meanwhile, Lord Sidious, intent on capturing Amidala and forcing her to sign the treaty, sends his fierce minion, Darth Maul, to find her.
On Tatooine, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Jar Jar, an astromech droid designated R2-D2, and Queen Amidala (disguised as a humble servant girl) encounter Watto, a junk dealer, and his two slaves, Shmi Skywalker and her 9-year-old son, Anakin.
Although Amidala and her Jedi protectors don’t know it, their meeting with Anakin Skywalker will forever change not only their destiny, but that of the entire galaxy.
As in his previous William Shakespeare’s Star Wars mashups, Doescher presents George Lucas’s Star Wars - Episode I as if it had been written for the 17th Century theater.
The author sticks to the dramatic conventions of Shakespeare’s era. Divided into five acts, The Phantom of Menace (a reference to the Bard’s The Merchant of Venice) is written in iambic pentameter. Most of the dialogue (including asides and soliloquies) is done in this style, except for Yoda’s. To give the ancient Jedi Master a unique voice, Doescher writes his lines as haikus.
Doescher, a long-time fan of the works of George Lucas and William Shakespeare, accomplishes a seemingly impossible feat. In the Phantom of Menace, he adds depth to Episode I’s characters, especially its most controversial - Jar Jar Binks.
In Lucas’s movie, Jar Jar Binks is simply a goofy, clumsy character who accidentally becomes a hero. He is in The Phantom Menace mainly for comic relief in a story that is otherwise heavy on politics and Sith conspiracies.
Doescher, however, reimagines Jar Jar Binks not as a cartoonish fool, but as a shrewd manipulator. In The Phantom of Menace, “Jar Jar was exiled not because he nearly destroyed the Gungan city, but because of his radical ideas.” Having observed the ways of the humans on Naboo, Jar Jar is aware that the Jedi will see him as uncouth and silly when he performs his “silly Gungan” act.
ANAKIN How all occasions do inform toward me
To spur my action here. The Jedi comes --
Of all the junk shops in all towns in all
Of Tatooine, he walketh into mine.
Star Wars fans who are not impressed with The Phantom Menace’s depiction of Anakin Skywalker may reassess their opinion of the boy destined to become Darth Vader after reading The Phantom of Menace.
Although Doescher doesn’t tinker as much with Anakin’s basic traits (his willingness to help others, his desire to become a Jedi, and his love for Padme and his mother) as he does with Jar Jar, he gives the boy depth and complex shadings that make him more appealing and interesting.
Quirk Books once again gives readers a nicely designed hardcover volume that looks like a well-loved and often-read book. The dust jacket features Nicolas Delort’s woodcut portrait of Queen Amidala in Elizabethan regalia. Delort, who also provides 20 delightful illustrations for the play, surrounds the queen with images of her Naboo Royal Cruiser, a Trade Federation battleship, Anakin’s podracer, and Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi dueling with Darth Maul.
As a literary work, William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace is a well-written, highly-enjoyable tribute to the works of George Lucas and the greatest dramatist/poet in English literature.
Like its Star Wars Trilogy stablemates, William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace is a parody, full of humorous dialogue that begs to be read out loud. Doescher packs his play with references and homages to Star Wars, many of Shakespeare’s plays, including Much Ado About Nothing), and even films such as Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca. Witty and stylish, The Phantom of Menace is neither campy nor silly.
- Hardcover: 176 pages
- Publisher: Quirk Books (April 7, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594748063
- ISBN-13: 978-1594748066
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches