Friday, June 17, 1977
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Friday, June 17, 1977 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Five
by CHRISTOPHER POTTER
The brief but narcotic wait has ended - the cinematic Pied
Piper has hit town at last. Its lure is universal, as the throngs
of grinning representatives of all ethnicities and ages milling
through the southwest corner of Briarwood Center will attest.
The name of this month-old legend is Star Wars, and although
barely into national circulation, the film has burgeoned into the
epic American phenomenon (Farrah who?).
Its formula is simple and irresistable: For two mystic hours,
all us collective Walter Mittys cap be lasered out of our under-
achieved realities into the farthest, deepest corners of the cos-
ms where sorcery reigns, shades of gray cease to exist and
Idi Amin would surely get his. But Pied Pipers usually turn
out to be quirky types at best, sometimes plunging their dis-
ciples into abysses terrifying to contemplate, despite the very
best of intentions.
I'm afraid of Star Wars.
IS DOMESTIC FILM an art or a business? In sixty years of
cinema the question has never been effectively resolved, and if
the struggle is ever to be resolved on the side of art, the quali-
ties of innovation, maturity, and above all courage are needed
now more than ever before. Imitation has become virtually the
name of the game of late, as economic strictures wither the
gambler's instinct and seduce the Hollywood moneymen into
milkng a proven winner again and again and again.
I fear for the future of film in this country, and it would
be starkly ironic if Star Wars, one of the most glorious acieve-
ments in recent American cinema, should turn out to be the
necessary stake for the celtloid philistines to drive through the
heart of film originality for years to come.
If I knock Star Wars, even indirectly, I feel like I'm knock-
ing Christmas: I think that in its purest terms it is probably
the most entertaining film ever made, one which will be as
eagerly awaited annually by future generations of kids huddled
around their 4-D projection screens as the once-a-year Wizard
of Oz is today.
Star Wars' advance publicity placed so much emphasis on
its being an un-intellectualized space opera of the Buck Rogers
ilk that I fearfully anticipated the eventual emergence of a
Wagnerianly pompous, cliche-ridden antique, or even worse, an
exercise in high-budget intergalactic camp. (Remember Flesh
SUCH FEARS proved blessedly inaccurate. By director-writer
George Lucas' own definition, Star Wars isn't sci-fi, it's pure
fairy tale, a multi-media realization of childhood fantasies, main-
tained and cherished in a world too often consigned to the brutes,
the technocrats and the gray flannel suit. To spin his magic
Lucas shamelessly and lovingly dips into the cowboy and world
war flying ace genres, and pays reverent tribute to his logical
predecessors from Oz, in any number of ways. And it all won-
It's hardly neccessary to re-suinmarize a plot which has
become immortal in a matter of weeks: Forces of evil have
gained sway over much of "a far away galaxy." Pitted against
the heavies are a motley but saintly collection of space arche-
types including an idealistic teenager, a cynical daredevil space
jockey and his 8-foot "Wookie" (read Cowardly Lion) partner,
and a wise hermit-wizard whose knowledge and use of the ages
old, almost-forgotten "life force" ultimately provides the key
to destruction of the bad guys. Best and brightest, of course,
are the robots Threepi and Artoo Detoo, a Mutt and Jeff combo
that seems destined to squeek and waddle into the ranks of the
most mythical of comic offbeats.
STAR WAR'S technical virtuosity is sizzling and breathless
- at least as good as anything Stanley Kubrick managed in 2001.
But where Kubrick often seemed content to simply sit back and
glory in technology for its own sake, Lukas has slgaped and
orchestrated his effects into a whirling dervish of a movie, triv
ing with a white-heat intensity that never lets up for a mo-
ment, pulsating rhythmatically like the fantastic ships which
soar through Lucas' and our universe.
In structure and pace, Star Wars is the closest thing to a
perfect film I've ever seen, yet it never loses its unpompous,
unassuming verve and good humor. Never for a second do you
feel Lucas shouting "Look, what a great director I am" - he's
simply tellinga story. Perfectly.
And yet ... and yet. Intermingled with all the unanimous
praise for this film, one finds an underlying current: "At last!
A good entertaining film with no sex! No bloody violence! A
film for the whole family!" True enough, and qualities I'm not
about to knock. But will they be at the expense of everything
else? - '
Economically, Star Wars is the magnum opus; within a year
it will have outgrossed Jaws, a feat previously unthinkable. It
will of course inspire a dozen or so interior sci-fi spin-offs, but
what of its effect on mainstream movies? The controlling money-
men may be aesthetic zombies, but they're also economic sharp-
i's: If a "family" film like Star Wars makes millions, mightn't
For Love of Benji do just as well? And a sequel, and another
one after that? In a world of Disneyna, will we ever see another
Last Tango in Paris? Maturity be damned - it's a loser.
GO, of course, to Star Wars; but afterwards resolve, perhaps,
to visit one of your neighborhood art theaters as well. Cinematic
versatility just could be at stake.
All aboard for art!
By SUSAN BARRY
The Artrain, a six-car mobile exhibition of
art and artists, has pulled into Ann Arbor and
set up its month-long residence on State Street
next to Ferry Field. Open to the public Wednes-
day through Sunday from 12 to 3 p.m. and con-
tinuing through July 31, the exhibit intends to
portray "an expression of the creative Ameri-
Created in 1971 with a grant from the National
Endowment for the Arts, the Artrain has trav-
eled twenty states, stopping in large cities with
museum resources as well as "towns so small
that the train could hardly fit in the road," ac-
cording to artist-in-residence Martha Gelarden.
Although there are exhibits coordinated to
correspond to the historical growth and achieve-
ments of larger cities - several large prints of
Ann Arbor give an impression of the town- as a
series of merchant enterprises built around a rail-
road stop - the major focus is on small towns
that have no access to cultural influences. An Ar-
train pamphlet, The Caboose claims that the
Artrain has stimulated the foundation of several
art centers in rural areas.
Each car has its own individual focus as well.
"Artrain intends to ask more questions than it
answers," claims its explanatory slide show. And
several of the modern as well as older paintings
seems to he addressing themselves to that very
One car in particular sets up a series of con-
trasts between the old and the new that poses
some interesting parallels. An old barber pole
and shaving bowl, as well as a vintage razor
from 1840 sit next to a shiny new Norelco. An
antique stone pitcher is placed next to a can of
Rolling Rock. And most impressive was an old
embroidery sample next to a pair of ornately
and intricately patterned embroidered blue jeans,
complete with patches and faded to a comfort-
Most of the art is on loan from such local
institutions as the Detroit Itistorical Museum and
the Institute of Arts, as well as some Ann Arbor
sources, and artifacts from the Henry Ford Mu-
seum add much local color to the exhibits.
But the artists who present their crafts have
been culled from various stops throughout the
country. Gelarden is a native of Indianapolis
and gives demonstrations of watercolor painting
as well as performing for local mime troupes
as a clown.
In short, the Artrain fuses local culture with
historical and national influences to produce an
interesting view of contemporary society
through various art forms. Tlse timing of the ar-
rival of the Artrain in Ann Arbor is not coinci-
dental to the timing of the annual Art Fair, as
buses from the fair to the train will be in oper-
ation in July. Hopefully one will complement
the other and lead to a culturally enriching ex-
A Recourds inBriefl
By TIM YAGI.E ming, without playing anything
ear - startling.
When lead vocalist David By- "Seasong" and "The Link",
ron left Uriah Heep a short a piano solo, are soft, soothing
while ago, many rock fans sounds. "Seasong" offers a long
didn't think he would leave rock guitar-keyboard jam near the
music for good - and they end to perk up the ears.
were right. Complaints about the LP
Along with good friend and include occasionally unclear and
drummer Geoff Brittont, Byron unimaginative vocals and drum-
formed a group comprised of mer Britton's overextended use
himself, Britton, guitarist Clem of his snare drum and high hat
Clempson - who has played -beating the same beat on
with Colosseum, Humble Pie, almost every tune and using the
and was approached by Byron, highhat for a rat-tat-tat as if
,. -rrra nju ss i t 7r piuii . 1 .
ROME GP - American movie
stars have taken the lion's share
of the David of Donatello
awards, Italy's top movie
Dustin Hoffman, who starred
in the film "Marathon Man"
and Sylvester Stallone of
"Rocky" were named best for-
A jury of Italian movie cri-
tics and writers also named
Faye. Dunaway best actress for
her role in "Network."
Jody Foster, who played its
the film "Taxi Driver," was
given a special award as the
leading promising actress.
just after completing
tour with Steve Marriott's All-
Stars - keyboardist Damon
Butcher, and bassist Willie
Bath. They call themselves
Rough Diamond and have just
released a fairly good debut al-
bum, entitled simply Rough'
Diamond (Island ILPS 9490).
They are not just another be-
ginning hard rock band either,
like those who come out and
blast you with scorching, heavy
metal rock such as Kiss or An-
gel. Rock Diamond plays rock
music but they approach it dif-
ferently. the group somehow ie-
minds me of the Doobie Bro-
thers. It is light rock, especial-
lv the song "Lock & Key",
which has a slow beat and a
settling sound. The band offers
something fo everyone.
"ROCK N' ROLL" is a rock
tune that lacks spunk. It breez-
es along with Clempson's heavy
lead guitar and hard drum-
that was his only cymbal.
Rough Diamond may not set-
tle on one kind of music to play
for the future, and many peo-
ple who listen to this album
may not want them to, bit their
fauture looks like a cquestion
mark. 'his suort of variety may
be a new wave for many rock
listeners and they may not like
it, but, in any case, Rough Dia-
mond should he around for a
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