sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2015-12-23 04:23 am

It's an older code, sir, but it checks out

Tonight I had vague thoughts of writing about Die Hard (1988), which [ profile] rushthatspeaks and I saw earlier this evening at the Brattle, and I really need to get Chicago Calling (1951) out of my brain because it upset me, but at the moment I am just going to marvel that Admiral Piett fandom has finally gone mainstream. I realized in 2006 that it wasn't just me, but I hadn't realized it was also The Atlantic. I think it's the shadows under Kenneth Colley's eyes. The character as written is part of a plot device, a demonstration of the power and cruelty of Darth Vader. He gets maybe thirty lines of dialogue across two movies; he doesn't have to be anyone. Imperial officers don't have a great track record for personality. He might be as ruthless as Tarkin's cohort in the first movie or as stupidly arrogant as his late superior, a true believer or an opportunist or just wallpaper. Colley's tight face and wary eyes make him sympathetic. He doesn't have to say anything to look slightly haunted even before his promotion, like someone who isn't sure if today's agenda includes Force-choking or not; he only gets sharper-faced and more sleepless as he goes. "So goes life in the Empire: There's plenty of upward mobility, but job turnover is high, and workplace safety truly abysmal." It doesn't matter that we never see him do anything other than behave with the expected efficiency regarding his duties and his crew and an understandably petrified politeness around Vader, he complicates the dystopia just by not being faceless. (And not dying, even when he expects to—moments after he assured Vader its hyperdrive was deactivated, the Millennium Falcon streaks into stars and the expression on Colley's face as his spooky commander sweeps out of the room isn't so much the expected relief as blank bafflement at still breathing.) I note that even The Atlantic wants to give him more time in the story: "It's fun to imagine a strange Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-like saga playing out in the background as Piett manages the vast civil service of a galactic dictatorship while fielding orders from Vader and his Emperor." I am basically delighted.

In honor of the occasion, please enjoy [ profile] cucumberseed's "The Love Song of Admiral Piett." It's still the best film criticism/T.S. Eliot parody I know. Character actors forever.

kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2015-12-23 03:22 pm (UTC)(link)
//is sad there's no love for Michael Pennington

[identity profile] 2015-12-23 01:01 pm (UTC)(link)
I suppose in a way he's the Empire's Wedge Antilles (as a friend of mine always says, Wedge is the only pilot who can paint two Death Stars on the side of his X-wing.)

Semi-related: I suspect it's because Lucas was making it all up as he went, but I'd forgotten until I rewatched it that at the start of A New Hope, the senior officers all seem to regard Vader as some old duffer who is humoured solely because he's a friend of the Emperor; which doesn't seem like an opinion that could long survive Vader's actual presence, one wonders where the Emperor's been hiding him all these years.

[identity profile] 2015-12-23 10:38 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, there are RL examples of things being erased from the public memory, and if the Emperor's decided that "the Jedi died out centuries ago and it was all nonsense anyway," Is a useful Big Lie, I expect he could make it happen with a combination of regular propaganda and Sith mind control.

[identity profile] 2015-12-23 01:14 pm (UTC)(link)
As Piet manages the vast civil service of a galactic dictatorship

It really does seem as though the Empire is in two parts: the Emperor and Vader, dark lords of the Sith, and everybody else, a military/bureaucratic machine who don't believe any if it. I don't know whether the Emperor decided at some point that it would serve his purposes to eliminate any memory of the Jedi, or whether he made an alliance of political necessity with the military/bureaucratic types. If the latter, they may well be doing all the real work of running the Empire, and everything we see in the movies is just a side issue, although I usually hate "what if we're missing the whole point" theories about well-known stories.
Edited 2015-12-23 13:15 (UTC)

[identity profile] 2015-12-23 11:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Not just to keep the general public from hoping for a return of the Jedi; also to make sure any kid with latent Force abilities either doesn't notice, or thinks them self a freak and does everything they can to suppress their powers.

I think it might be accomplished through a mix of propaganda and intimidation -- if everyone Living under the Empire quickly realizes that if they want their career/life to continue, they'd better keep their mouths shut about the Jedi, even if they knew several personally back in the days of the Republic -- the next generation is never going to have even heard of the Jedi, except maybe as improbable stories told by their crazy uncle J'bud that time he got drunk at a family wedding and other adults were too distracted to shut him up; but who believes anything Uncle J'bud says?

I don't recall the Rebels mentioning the Jedi either way, but with no practicing Jedi in their ranks (I don't think Luke talked openly about the Force after Obi-Wan's death), they've no reason to.
Edited 2015-12-24 00:02 (UTC)

[identity profile] 2015-12-23 01:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Colley played Jesus (only seen from behind) in Life of Brian- and was a member of Ken Russell's repertory company- turning up in Mahler, The Music Lovers, The Devils etc...

One of those actors one is always happy to see.

[identity profile] 2015-12-23 03:05 pm (UTC)(link)
As always, thank you for the link!

I can't wait to see what you make of Kylo Ren.
drwex: (Default)

[personal profile] drwex 2015-12-23 03:57 pm (UTC)(link)
OMG, the Rosencrantz & Guidenstern idea is brilliant. Thank you for sharing that.
drwex: (Default)

[personal profile] drwex 2015-12-23 03:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Oops, hit Post too soon. My own take on the character is that he is an homage to Catch-22.
drwex: (Default)

[personal profile] drwex 2015-12-23 09:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Catch-22 (the book particularly, I don't remember the movie all that well) fronts the idea that life in the military is futile, contradictory, and doomed. That you'll be bombarded by rules and constrained by the whims of those who enforce the rules. Piett I see as the epitome of the downtrodden rules-follower - nominally he's in charge but in fact he's just a cog of the Empire. And he knows that no matter what he does sooner or later he's frelled.
drwex: (Default)

[personal profile] drwex 2015-12-23 11:08 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh gods, yes. I hadn't thought of it that way but I think you're right.