Yoda! The Little Green Man Gets Dissected
Antonio Hernández, O.M.D.
has been brewing, and I simply must comment. I must also take part
because I was one of the first reviewers of "Attack of the
Clones", and I received some interesting feedback on that review,
which is right here at Hackwriters.
Im sorry; I cannot sit idly by, watching the horror continue.
So Ive done my homework, and I offer you these thoughts:
An interesting morning for me consists of reading various webpages about
Master Jedi Yoda, whom I adore. Ive read pages about how the original
foam muppet was made, how the silicone muppet from Episode I was rather
lackluster, and how sorely the muppet was missed (by some) in Episode
II. There are even comparison studies of the mechanisms of the original
Yoda muppets face and Episode Is puppet. Mostly, I read nauseating,
drooling coos of joy over the horrid CGI Yoda in "Attack of the Clowns"
oh, Im sorry, "Attack of the Clones"). One thing
I read that deeply impressed me was a description of Yoda I had never
read nor heard before: "everyones favorite alien." I agree!
One does not foul up an original. George Lucas has gone techno-crazy,
and Im gratified to know that people actually involved in the original
films agree with me. They dislike the CGI Yoda in Episode II as much as
fans dislike Jar-Jar Binks. There is a reason for this, and I will get
straight to the point: Yoda is a puppet-- specifically, a muppet-- not
a CGI character. A devoted die-hard fan wrote that Yoda "was born
a muppet and he will die a muppet." Truer words were never written.
That eminent genius Frank Oz is the one who, along with Stuart Freeborn
(Yodas designer), gave Yoda life. Lucas did not, nor did he even
direct the original Yoda action, and thats precisely why the CGI
Yoda in Episode II is so repulsive. Its like watching the Jackie
Chan cartoon. My feelings are twice as sharp because the Yoda muppet was
partially based on my martial arts teacher-- honest, even if Lucas never
Here is the meat of the problem: CONTEXT. The modern, ugly Yoda is completely
out of context. Yoda was deliberately designed as a muppet, its
no coincidence. Lucas went to Jim Henson for just such a character, and
Henson delivered. Hensons work is as sacrosanct as Lucas,
and Lucas has no right to try erasing that muppet magic. Few fans of "Star
Wars" are old enough to remember the pioneering work Henson did with
puppetry: Lucas wanted a Henson puppet in his movie, a bit like "having
Jim Henson in the movie" without having him in the movie. Its
that simple. Lucas consistently shows a proclivity for biting the hands
that feed him; that too is simple to see.
Lucas and his people were not satisfied with their asinine mutilation
of Yodas face in Episode I. No, they had to go all-out and turn
him into a ridiculous, 21st century cousin of Hong Kong Phooey. Let me
admit that the effort to knock some age off Yoda is understandable. I
was once a forensic reconstruction artist, so I know that if you were
to compare Yoda to Albert Einstein or J. Edgar Hoover (Yoda resembles
both of them), youd see that having a bunch of different muppets
makes sense. Look at photos of the two men at different ages: they are
like completely "different models" of the same concept. We all
are, even in different photos at the same age.
Yet a character concept, real or created, has an essence that must not,
cannot, be changed. We first saw the muppet Yoda, seemingly half-crazy
from hiding away on a swamp planet after watching his Jedi Knights and
masters get killed. He was stiff, aged, sometimes awkward, and half-toothless.
He also had a muppets reality about him, that feeling of true sentience,
those bright shining eyes and palpable character, Frank Ozs life
melding with Yoda. Thats why he was the character he was, and thats
why we loved him. What better master can there be?
Then in Episode I, we saw
"something". Something "like"
Yoda, but NOT Yoda. It was frightening, like the statues of Einstein at
Madame Tussauds. This master is centuries old, and powerful; would
a few decades of suffering have that much impact on him? No! So why does
he look like a stoned Arnold Schwarzenegger in Episode I? Then, since
Lucas cares nothing for his fans, we wonder why he worked so hard to make
the cartoon Yoda of Episode II look like a muppet? Its because Lucas
does not care about Yoda, an offense worse than dissing his fans. Lucas
actually embodies one of his films main characters: soulless technology.
For a moment, in fact for thousands of moments, I pine for Jim Henson.
We all have, but I cried a little bit more for him when I saw Episode
II. Henson could have given Lucas what he wanted in Yodas highly-touted
fight scene-- and could have done it so much better than Lucas ultimately
did. Instead of an ineffective green Pikachu, we would have seen the real
Yoda in action. And Im not lightly using the word "real"
here. Yoda was real -- and is real no more. What surprises me most is
that the great and powerful Oz would waste his time voicing this pathetic
cartoon. If you are a person who can find no other wrong than to say Yoda
sounds like Grover, then get a life.
He was SUPPOSED to sound like Grover, dummies! It was a part of his character
image. Now we know the other ugly truth: our own love for the true Master
Yoda is gone.
Hopefully Yoda will not be gone altogether. It has been rumored that Lucas
plans to go back to "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return
of the Jedi" so that he can erase the Yoda muppet and replace him
with a CGI monstrosity.
Death to the idea! Monkeying with the original Yoda in any way would be
even more of an insult than what Lucas has done already, not to mention
a desecration of Jim Hensons memory and Frank Ozs hard work.
Without Henson, without Oz, without Freeborn, without muppets, Lucas could
not have had a Master Yoda; he would have ended up with Jedi Master Furr
One would think that George Lucas could be more grateful, and more artful.
My last hope-- I will not wait for a *new hope*-- is that Lucas wont
screw us as roughly with Episode III. He should at least offer us some
proper muppet shots of Yoda, who will hopefully fight again and redeem
the ridiculous Episode II fight scene. Master Jedi Yoda, one of the greatest
fictional film characters ever created, deserves better treatment than
Lucas has given him. If I may say so, Lucas deserves to have his hide
tanned until its green.
© Master E.A. Hernandez October 2003
Revenge of the Sith
WARS Attack of the Giggles
In Black Berets
sleek, lean, mean defense machine'
Nation under Scrutiny
Jefferson, for example, wrote a great deal about God, yet he was an atheist.
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