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[personal profile] krpalmer
I got around to watching a DVD I had bought of American Graffiti, and can therefore now say that I've seen all of the theatrical movies that George Lucas has directed. Having it round out the list, though, perhaps affected how I viewed it, as did a comment in "The Making of Star Wars" that THX 1138, American Graffiti, and Star Wars form a "first trilogy" expressing themes of "stepping out into a larger world." One of my first thoughts along those lines was that the way some early shots were framed, with one character to the side of the frame, looked familiar to what I had seen in THX 1138. It's possible, though, that I soon found myself drawing a contrast between the characters of American Graffiti and Luke Skywalker: chasing girls (in one way or another) seemed an important part of their stories, but for him it was all sublimated into "rescuing Princess Leia," quite perhaps because he's more of a "fairy tale" or "mythic" figure (take your pick)... although I soon began to wonder if the Anakin Skywalker of Attack of the Clones would somehow fit in with them better. That thought may well have formed when Steve was trying to convince Laurie that he could date other women while off at college, and my reaction was "awkwardness is natural, you complainers!"... although, of course, it's a position somehow diametric to Anakin's.

One thought not that long afterwards was perhaps even a little more controversial, that Terry "the Toad," as a struggling and comedic yet perservering figure, was also familiar, and in recognising that I felt that much better about things I was already fine with. In seeing resonances with The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones (somehow, I can now see the night-time skyscape of Coruscant as the ultimate elaboration of the night-time "cruising" of American Graffiti's nostalgic 1962 instead of simply "an homage to Blade Runner"), though, perhaps I'm wondering a little about the connection suggested in "The Making of Star Wars." Curt does leave town after being uncertain at the beginning, just as THX escapes and Luke leaves home, and yet to me his story seems one of four equal stories (and the one most separate from the other three) being told in one movie, not the central story. Too, perhaps, while Steve starts the movie ready to leave and then winds up staying, to me the connection of that to him breaking up then making up with Laurie began to make it seem less the "failure of nerve" I had imagined beforehand.

There may be no "central plot" in American Graffiti beyond "the important last night of summer" (although I'd certainly say that things happen in the movie), but one possibly more interesting thought along the same lines that I had is that the movie's possible "villains" become less threatening over time. I did wonder, though, if the character of Bob Falfa becomes something a bit other than just "Milner's antagonist" now because he's played by Harrison Ford.

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