William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third by Ian Doescher (2015)
William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third
by Ian Doescher
Quirk Books, 2015
Ian Doescher’s adaptation of Star Wars’ episodes IV through VI into the Victorian language of William Shakespeare was a brilliant idea, and the execution was tremendous. When it came to the prequels, however, Doescher suffered from inferior source materials. Episodes I and II simply did not match the originals in quality, and the adaptations, while there were some clever twists, were not as enjoyable as the first three. Fortunately, The Revenge of the Sith was a return to form for Lucas and, subsequently, for Doescher.
William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge follows the events of the movie, replacing modern language with that of Shakespeare’s day and utilizing such devices as narration from “Rumor.” Doescher continues to employ rhyming quatrains for the lovers, Padme and Anakin, though the rhymes are imperfect as Anakin’s path to the dark side separates him from Padme’s love. Mention must be made of Nicolas Delort’s illustrations throughout the series, a perfect mixture of the futuristic looks of Star Wars with a touch of traditional English garb and culture.
Doescher has brought to fruition a fantastic idea, and this reviewer hopes he is able to continue this series with the new Star Wars films that begin releasing later this year.
William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh
by Ian Doescher
Quirk Books, 2015
A parody is only as good as its source material. When Ian Doescher’s first installment of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series was released two years ago, it was hailed as brilliant—and it was. Equally as fun were The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return. Then came The Phantom of Menace this April, and while Doescher did his best to shoehorn that mess of a story into the Shakespearean style, it fell flat. Unfortunately, he was not able to rebound with The Clone Army Attacketh, through no fault of his own. While he does employ some interesting literary devices in the work—Jango Fett speaking in prose, Anakin and Padme speaking in rhyming quatrains—the story itself is lacking.
The sixth installment, Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge, is due out in September. That film was the best of the prequels, and hopefully Doescher’s Elizabethan treatment will prove to be stellar as well.
Much like the movie it was based on, Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace is the weak link in this series of books. It would be difficult for anyone to dress up George Lucas’ greatest misstep, but Doescher does his best and remains true to the filmmaker’s vision, Jar Jar Binks and all. Doescher does some interesting things with the characters, such as giving Jar Jar more intelligence than most would. When speaking in asides to the audience, Binks speaks Shakespearean English, fully in iambic pentameter just as the other characters; when conversing with the other characters, however, the last syllable drops off. Conversely, the other Gunguns receive the full ten syllables, even with their native dialect.
There are other deviations from the iambic pentameter with other characters: Yoda speaks in haiku, while Valorum tacks on an eleventh syllable at the end of his lines. Another quirk with the language includes the two-headed podrace commentator, who uses the pronoun “we” instead of “I.” Qui-Gon Jinn has a Julius Caesar moment during his final battle with Darth Maul, and tribute is paid to Samuel L. Jackson’s long career in Hollywood in several stanzas.
One of my favorite parts of William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace is the conversation Doescher inserted between two unnamed Jedi in Act IV, Scene 5, foretelling the regression of technology and Jedi skills that would be seen in Verily, A New Hope. A weak explanation, but a nod to the lack of consistency between Lucas’ original trilogy and the prequels.
William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace is a step back for the series, but Doescher should be able to right the ship with the next installment (scheduled for a July release) as he will have better source material from which to work. Still, for the completist, this tale is necessary as it tells the innocent beginnings of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars saga.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set
by Ian Doescher
Quirk Books, 2014
The greatest story in modern cinema, retold in the style of the greatest playwright of all-time, Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy is a treat for fans of the galactic tale and the Bard alike. Ian Doescher channels the language of Shakespeare in this retelling, a brilliant parody that reads like a serious play, almost entirely in iambic pentameter. There are exceptions to the style, such as Boba Fett (prose), Yoda (haiku), and the Ewoks (short AABA lines). Han and Leia emulate Romeo and Juliet, speaking in rhyming couplets to each other in private, while the chorus is granted rhymes and occasional sonnets.
The reader is sure to encounter some surprises, as R2-D2 is revealed to have a witty command of the English language, though he reserves that for asides, speaking in beeps when other characters can hear. Doescher lifts themes and rewords famous lines and even soliloquies, such as Darth Vader’s appropriation of Hamlet in portions of The Jedi Doth Return. Doescher also provides insight into the mind of the Wampa in The Empire Striketh Back and the Rancor in The Jedi Doth Return, allowing them to speak (or sing, in the case of the Rancor) to the audience.
Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy is a fantastic and entertaining way to relive the story of Luke, Han, Leia and the rest of the Rebellion in their battles against the Empire. Highly recommended for Star Wars fans.
William Shakespeare’s Foorsooth, The Phantom Menace. is scheduled for an April 2015 release.