Is there a Four Cultures take on that movie everyone except me seems to have seen? If so, please let me know your thoughts by commenting on this post.
For inspiration you could look at what the anthropology website Savage Minds had to say about it, or you could read about the four cultures of science fiction and a cultural theory interpretation of Star Wars.
And maybe I’ll get round to seeing it, although for truly amazing 3d effects I find it cost-effective to hold my hand at arm’s length in front of my face and turn it slowly. Call me old fashioned. I’m holding out for 5d cinema.
As I write this on the train home, my neighbour is watching Star Wars: A New Hope on his portable DVD player. The bleeps and moans of R2D2 and Chewbacca come through clearly on his earphones. Thirty two years after its release, the movie and its myth-making are evidently still going strong. But what is it that gives this particular story its staying power?
I think it works partly because it recognises the existence of the Four Cultures and the endless conflicts and settlements between them.
Here’s how it works:
As a genre, sci-fi is par excellence concerned with culture. What would it be like to visit an alien world? How would its inhabitants operate, and how would they differ from us?
In a way it’s a kind of theoretical anthropology. Think of Ursula Le Guin’s inquiry into a culture of hermaphrodites in The Left Hand of Darkness, or of Iain M. Banks’s series of novels in which he explores the political permutations of a culture that has abolished scarcity – a culture provocatively named ‘the Culture’. Continue reading