Source: Quirk Books
Hardcover, 176 pgs
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William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace by Ian Doescher is just what it espouses to be, a Shakespearean rendition of Star Wars. Doescher has clearly studied enough Shakespeare and is creative enough to pull this off, and as an avid reader and lover of Shakespeare and Star Wars, this one was a perfect fit. In fact, I was chuckling to myself as I heard the movie version of Jar Jar Binks in my head speaking in near iambic pentameter. It was hilarious. If I could see this one filmed, I would. There are people who hate Jar Jar, and there are people like me who just adore him. What I loved about Doescher’s rendition of him is that there is more to the character than appears outwardly to the other characters. The re-imagining of this polarizing character was fascinating, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next – even though I know the story.
Amidala: “A youth is no more frail than older folk,
No less intelligent, no less sublime.
Our steps are newer, yet we are no jewel
To be protected and encas’d by them.” (pg. 20)
Anakin: “Why do we worship at the shrine of change?
Hath change e’er put a meal upon our board?
Is change betoken to something positive?
Or may it be that change for changing’s sake
But changes good to evil, bad to worse?” (pg. 99)
This rendition can be read for its homage to Shakespeare and Star Wars, and it can be read for its humor, but it also is multi-layered with meaning. What does it mean to accept change so easily, and does it mean that youth is unequal to older people with experience? Doescher also speaks of the hidden commentary in Star Wars about perception and the “locals” of Naboo, in that the Jedi believe them to be primitive and less worldly. Fans of the movie franchise and its many incarnations have debated many things like these, as they have been debated in the study of Shakespeare and other literature, why not do it in a modern and fun mash-up like William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace by Ian Doescher.
Ian Doescher is a Portland native, and lives in Portland with his spouse and two children. He has a B.A. in Music from Yale University, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary. He is currently the Director of Nonprofit Marketing at Pivot Group LLC, a full service marketing, research and web agency in Portland, Oregon.