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A comment on stilted acting/dialog in Star Wars Movies

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A comment on stilted acting/dialog in Star Wars Movies

Old 05-29-05, 08:03 AM
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A comment on stilted acting/dialog in Star Wars Movies

I'm a fan of the Star Wars movies. Yes, all of 'em. To me each film stands on it's own merit. My favorite is probably The Empire Strikes Back, although Revenge if the Sith is closing in on it.

I've read many reviews and outright criticisms of the films (obviously more recently Revenge of the Sith). I'm not posting this to defend the films. Of course there are shortcomings in all 6 of the films (plot holes, ewoks, pop-culture forced humor, and needless-to-say, Jar-jar). However one ever-resonant criticism seems to be regarding the stilted acting & dialog.

I may be way off here, but I don't think George Lucas ever intended the audience to believe that what they were watching was reality (or even potential reality). This stuff is fantasy, folks! The acting and dialoge are "over-the-top" to say the least, and I'll bet it's intended to be that way. It's like watching a play. The lines are delivered. The often satirized catch phrases, "May the force be with you", "forever will it dominate your destiny", "search your feelings"; these are phrases that even the casual viewer will recognize as Star Wars jargon. This stuff is gold in that it's become it's own pop-culture.

There are plenty of things to criticize about these films, but everytime I hear a critic comment on the stilted acting/dialog, I can't help but think that he/she simply doesn't "get it".
Old 05-29-05, 09:29 AM
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No, we get it. Bad dialogue and acting should never be intended in any film, unless you're making a spoof movie. This is biggest negative for me in all 6 films...
Old 05-29-05, 09:47 AM
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to be honest I've never thought the acting and dialogue was really all that bad (maybee Jake Loyd) . I wasn't until AOTC came out that I even heard (or remember hearing) the term "wooden" acting used by a couple critics. Then suddenly "wooden" became the 'in' cathphrase for wannabe armchair critics everywhere.
Old 05-29-05, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Cinema
No, we get it. Bad dialogue and acting should never be intended in any film, unless you're making a spoof movie. This is biggest negative for me in all 6 films...
(I'm not flaming, in fact, your point is well taken) But, I propose that the purposeful (dare I say, forced) dialogue and melodramatic, line-delivered, acting is a style that is intended for this series.
Old 05-29-05, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by cactusoly
I wasn't until AOTC came out that I even heard (or remember hearing) the term "wooden" acting used by a couple critics. Then suddenly "wooden" became the 'in' cathphrase for wannabe armchair critics everywhere.
The term "wooden", with regards to performance, was used long before AOTC. I just think that AOTC made the term more popular since the film was a great example of a cast with wooden performances.
Old 05-29-05, 10:40 AM
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What a silly theory. Just deal with the fact that Lucas can't direct actors worth a crap. If your theory were true, then ALL the acting would be "wooden". And it isn't.
Old 05-29-05, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
...If your theory were true, then ALL the acting would be "wooden". And it isn't.
I respectfully disagree. It seems to me that all of the acting (in all 6 films) follows the same style...even with McDiramid & Ford.
Old 05-29-05, 10:49 AM
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If stilted &/or wooden acting were intended for these roles than Ewan McGregor failed horribly.

Lines such as "May the force be with you", "search your feelings" are fine. Not bad dialogue at all. But a line, like say, "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo" makes me cringe.

I'm more inclined to go with the "Lucas can't direct actors worth a crap" theory.
Old 05-29-05, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Amel
If stilted &/or wooden acting were intended for these roles than Ewan McGregor failed horribly.

"Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo" makes me cringe.

I'm more inclined to go with the "Lucas can't direct actors worth a crap".
what actually makes this bad dialogue anyway
Old 05-29-05, 12:59 PM
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This theory would make sense if it weren't that only some actors in the films are actually "wooden." But Ewan, Ian, and quite a few others give fine performances, not based in reality, theatrical, but hardly stilted, whereas our biggest offenders Natalie and Hayden were on the other side of the spectrum. Now neither were awful enough to ruin the films, and Hayden did pretty well in RoTS, but I think we're just trying to explain away a fault many of us see, when really it's exactly what it seems to be...wooden acting.
Old 05-29-05, 01:15 PM
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I used to think the OT was all bad acting, but seeing them again after the prequels, it seems much better. I think it's possible I imagined it to be worse because of the unrealistic settings. OT was in a real environment with sets and props, while the prequels look completely artificial, so I can easily notice that their performances are not as 'real' to me since it isnt to them.

Meaning, anything they say is taken out of context because it looks 'faker' than in the originals.

The acting may be just as good for all 6, but, for example, one scene with CGI Yoda makes me roll my eyes more, than a scene with puppet Yoda, and it has nothing to do with the actors or with Frank Oz's performance.

Last edited by uhftv; 05-29-05 at 01:17 PM.
Old 05-29-05, 01:24 PM
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Flash Gordon, people.
Old 05-29-05, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Amel
If stilted &/or wooden acting were intended for these roles than Ewan McGregor failed horribly.

Lines such as "May the force be with you", "search your feelings" are fine. Not bad dialogue at all. But a line, like say, "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo" makes me cringe.

I'm more inclined to go with the "Lucas can't direct actors worth a crap" theory.
If I try to think of cringe-worthy moments from all of the movies, they all come from TPM, especially the scene where Queen Amidala is addressing her council, and says "We muzzzz do something..." AAAUUUGGGHHH!!!! The word is "must", fer fuck's sake! Ever heard of a second take, Lucas? Who do you think you are, Ed Wood?

rant over
Old 05-29-05, 02:52 PM
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Lucas has always said the dialog is supposed to be over the top, its a space opera, or he compares it to music, lines and phrases used over and over again. There have been a few bad lines, but people have got carried away with cutting up this part of the franchise. What exactly is wrong with "hold me like you did on Naboo" Have you guys ever had a girlfriend? Women talk like this.

As fas as "wooden" acting. its not even close to being accurate. People who want to blame blue screen always fall back on this, little do they know they have said this about scenes done on set. You have every right not to like Natalie and Hayden in these films, but to call them wooden is crazy, if anything they are over acting in some scenes. Natalie was wooden in Phantom Menace as the queen, and of course that was intended, and made sense. Can you honestly complain about that in Sith. She is so emotional through out.
Old 05-29-05, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by shaggy
Lucas has always said the dialog is supposed to be over the top, its a space opera, or he compares it to music, lines and phrases used over and over again. There have been a few bad lines, but people have got carried away with cutting up this part of the franchise. What exactly is wrong with "hold me like you did on Naboo" Have you guys ever had a girlfriend? Women talk like this.

As fas as "wooden" acting. its not even close to being accurate. People who want to blame blue screen always fall back on this, little do they know they have said this about scenes done on set. You have every right not to like Natalie and Hayden in these films, but to call them wooden is crazy, if anything they are over acting in some scenes. Natalie was wooden in Phantom Menace as the queen, and of course that was intended, and made sense. Can you honestly complain about that in Sith. She is so emotional through out.
Portman has her moments, but there are times when it seems like she's just reading off a cue card. Her vocal inflections don't seem to match the lines, and it comes off very flat. Actually, a lot of her lines sound like she's still doing Amidala. She improved in RoTS, but some of the lines didn't come off well. I think many of us saw that.
Old 05-29-05, 03:28 PM
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Terrence Stamp complained that he was looking forward to working with Nathalie Portman. He showed up on set that day and was informed that Miss Portman would not be in that day. He acted his scene with a ping pong ball on a stick, so he could get the eye contact right for when they composited her later. That alone shows you the problem with the acting. Everyone was more concerned about hitting their marks so the blue screen work would fit. There was no thought for the dynamic of how actors interact with each other. I have a tape of the orginal Star Wars auditions. It's interesting to watch how the actors would do the audition scene and completely change their performance based upon how the other actor was doing his lines. One actor would read the line low key, the other actor would read back low key. Next take he would read excited and the other actor followed suit. When you don't have another actor to feed back from you can't atune your performance. Also, when he WOULD have both actors on the set at the same time, he would sometimes take an actor from one take and composite him with an actor from another take. It was less work than getting all the actors to have a good take at the same time. This mix and match filmmaking destroys any chance at having anything resembling cohesion between actors. Compare to Star Wars, where the actors actually seemed to have some chemistry. Luke overacts (he jumps 3 feet anytime anyone mentions his dad or the rebellion) but fits in well with Han. He barely has any moments with Leia, but she does well enough with Han. Han, gives up in Jedi, though, and looks constipated the whole film. That was due more to not having the interesting repartee with Leia like in the previous films.

Now, are the actors as bad as in, say, a John Waters film? No, but they are indeed "wooden". I don't need a critic to give me a buzzword. I know wooden when I see it. Does this ruin the films for me? No, not really. I saw Star Wars when I was young enough to forgive them. No one is asking for Meryl Streep in these films, but I might have different feelings for them if the acting had even been on par with even LOTR .
Old 05-29-05, 05:23 PM
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I never complained about SW acting until ROTS. there were some padme/anakin scenes that truly make me cringe while watching them
Old 05-30-05, 01:07 AM
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Originally Posted by cactusoly
what actually makes this bad dialogue anyway
After she said it, I said to myself, "I cant' believe she just said that." And to be fair, that whole scene is pretty cringe-inducing to me, but that line and the "beautiful" lines just really stand out as horrible. Maybe a different delivery would help. After seeing just about all of Portman's movies, I have a hard time believing that she could be this bad.
Old 05-30-05, 01:41 AM
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Best dialogue ever

Anakin: You are so beautiful!
Padme: Only because I'm so in love with you.
Anakin: No, because I'm so in love with you.
Old 05-30-05, 02:19 AM
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The thing with the original trilogy is that the actors actually know how to act there, this isn't nostalgia clouding the mind, rewatch them and see for yourself.
Old 05-30-05, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by caligulathegod
Han, gives up in Jedi, though, and looks constipated the whole film.

Awesome (and so true)!


Let's face it...as others has stated in this thread, the group in the OT could act. Decent actors can pull off shitty lines and make them sound less cheesy and acting against ping-pong balls does not help. People bitch up and down about Mark Hamill but he was always believable in his role. He was whiney in both SW and ESB without being irritating and you really felt sympathy for him when he finds out Darth Vader is his father.
Old 05-30-05, 11:00 AM
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The acting has always been pretty weak in the Star Wars films. A grand tradition that was started when Lucas cast a couple kids and a stage carpenter as the leads in his first film.
Old 05-31-05, 03:56 AM
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Anakin: You are so beautiful!
Padme: Only because I'm so in love with you.
Anakin: No, because I'm so in love with you.
I guess i will never understand people's problem with "romantic" dialogue like this in Star Wars. How long has it been since some of you were young and in love? I guarantee that at some point in time, nearly every one of the people rolling their eyes at this dialogue (and yes I was one of them too) said something nearly as corny and stupid to a woman once.

Think back to when you were a teenager and "in love." The world seemed against you, everybody was against you, nobody understood you like she did. When I think back to some of the godawful stuff I probably said in my teenage years, some of the crappy poetry I wrote and some of the corny-ass romantic crap I wrote in letters, I cringe. Some are a lot worse than this exchange above.

And hell, that was me after I had some experience with women from time to time. Anakin was taken as a young boy and trained as a jedi with basically no chance to have a real relationship. Hell, when he fell in love with someone for the first time I'm not surprised at the clunky, corny confessions of love he spoke, but that he didn't do so in epic poem format. Love makes us do and say stupid, strange things. I think that some of us have forgotten that.

Then again, that's not to say there isn't other examples of clunky, stilted dialogue and acting throughout the series. Just defending the "hopeless romantic" in Anakin.
Old 05-31-05, 09:27 AM
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I just think that GL has problems writing dialogue that is supposed to contain emotion. Instead of writing a pieces that exudes emotion and requires any sort of range from the actors, the dialogue describes the emotion they are feeling.

BTW, I agree with Badger1997 that some of the lines (especially the "sand" line from AOTC) strike me as Anakin failing horribly to act suave. As for the "Love has blinded you" lines in ROTS, I totally buy them because again, Anakin is trying to be suave and Padme is mocking him.
Old 05-31-05, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by caligulathegod
Han, gives up in Jedi, though, and looks constipated the whole film.
Well, the man was still thawing out.

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