William Shakespeare’s Star Wars
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher. July 2013. Quirk Books, 174p. $14.95 ISBN:1594746370.
“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. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying…pretty much everything.
Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations—William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.” — Publisher’s Description
For starters, I was almost literally born and raised on Star Wars — I’m only one year older than the franchise. That brings with it certain biases, including the fact that I hold the original trilogy in my heart with a special reverence for all the happy memories, both as a child, and as an adult, that it brings me. I also know all three movies in their original forms by heart (and yes, Han will always have shot first!). Seeing that this unique take on the series had me very excited, and I was far from disappointed.
I admit, that when I first got the book, I was skeptical at how it would play out. It was either going to be a truly groundbreaking new approach to popular literature and film, or it was going to be an absolute joke. Fortunately, I think Shakespeare himself would be proud of the results. Staying true to the original script, Doescher places a very bard-like spin to it that allows anyone even remotely familiar with the film and the story to follow along with no difficulty. When you have lines like: “But unto Tosche Station would I go, And there obtain some pow’r converters. Fie!“, I think you know where we are in the film! And I agree, Luke sounds whiny here too!
The writing style is exactly as you would expect from a William Shakespeare five act play. In fact, it is written as a script, only lacking some stage direction, but containing all the description and scene setting you would expect from any script. Inner dialogues are spoken aloud, and actions explained in the same way. While we can see these on screen, simple gestures and actions are either written in as direction, or described by the players. As it reads, there would be no doubt that any acting company could easily put on a production of this work.
Granted, there is a little bit of cheek, and some subtle nods to both Shakespeare and Star Wars fans alike, but they are hidden almost like Easter eggs throughout the text. For example, this couplet, a favorite tool of the Bard’s, gives a tip of the hat to the “Han shot first” fans: “I pray thee, sir, forgive me for the mess/And whether I shot first, I’ll not confess.- Han Solo”. There are even points in the book where we see action or have a look at some inner dialogues that we don’t see in the film, for instance a Hamlet-like soliloquy by Luke, lamenting the death of the Stormtrooper whose uniform he has stolen on the Death Star: “[Luke, holding stormtrooper helmet.] Alas, poor stormtrooper, I knew ye not, Yet have I ta’en both uniform and life From thee. What manner of a man wert thou?” Even something as simple as “Once more unto the trench, dear friends, once more!” during the penultimate battle gives a little grin when you get both references.
I simply cannot sing the praises of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars enough. Perfect for fans of both Star Wars and Shakespeare, it will have you coming back again and again, just like the original. I personally have recommended this to patrons who enjoy the films, but have poo-pooed plays and Shakespeare both. Everyone has loved it so far! I just can’t wait to see the stage production!
If you enjoy William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, fear not, the rest of the trilogy has also been given a similar treatment and you will want to find William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back, and William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return
Five of Five Stars
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