The Jedi Lounge: Interview with Traci Degerman

Today is Monday so it’s time for a new interview at the Jedi Lounge, today it’s with Traci Degerman (@StarWarsBrat)

1. Which Star Wars movie did you see first?
A New Hope, on it’s opening weekend in 1977. I was eight years old.

2. What Star Wars means to you?
For me, Star Wars mirrors the struggle between the forces of good and evil in real life. It’s about a few dedicated, selfless people trying to make their world (galaxy) a better place, in the face of outright opposition from self-serving, power-hungry individuals and entities, and passive obstruction from an apathetic public.

3. What’s your favorite part of the Star Wars saga and why? (it can be one of the six movies or even one of the tv shows)
The Clone Wars television series is my favorite part of the saga to date. There are so many positive messages in its stories, its characters have diversified and enriched the universe, and its animation is visually stunning and makes you forget that it isn’t real.

4. If you wanted a subtitle for the Star Wars movies what would it be for you?
I’d never thought about that before. Not sure it’s necessary.

5. How important do you think it was to have the Prequels telling this story of the rise and fall of Anakin, the fall of the Republic … and why do you think it was important to tell this story? For you, how does it connect to the First trilogy?
It wouldn’t be a saga without the Prequels. Anakin’s story needed to be told, and I think those films did it fairly well. That said, however, this is another reason I’m glad for The Clone Wars, which allowed us to see the full depth of Anakin’s character and personality. He comes across as rather shallow in the films.

6. What do you think of Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman’s performances in the Prequel trilogy for their respective roles?
They weren’t great, but I don’t think it’s entirely their fault. I remember reading somewhere that George didn’t actually direct them in their scenes; he just kind sat back and watched them unfold. Such a hand-off approach worked with the experienced actors like Ewan, Liam, Samuel and Ian, but I really think that the younger two – particularly Hayden – needed some coaching. For me, though, the performances don’t detract or distract from the story, which is what matters.

7. Do you think starting the Star Wars story with Anakin as a boy was a good choice and why?
I think that was the right approach, and I don’t understand why some people – even non-Prequel haters – are so negative about The Phantom Menace. The kid was a good enough actor, and it was important to see Anakin’s life as a slave.

8. What’s your view on the use of CGI, Practical Effects and how they fit into a story? Do you think the special effects were at the service of the story in the Prequel movies?
I’m a very visually oriented person, and I love the richness and complexity that CGI brings to the overall experience of Star Wars. The battle scenes wouldn’t be nearly as exciting without them. There’s a breathtaking quality to the Prequels and The Clone Wars that is absent in the OT. When it comes to Star Wars, I’m not at all nostalgic for the pre-CGI days.

9. What’s your favorite aspect of the story in the Prequels and why?
The intrigue surrounding the creation of the Clone army, and how the Jedi were so quick to reverse themselves in their opposition and accept the Clones’ help when their existence was threatened. They really aren’t so principled and righteous under certain circumstances.

10. Do you think it was important to tell the story of The Clone Wars and do you think animation was the right medium to tell it?
As far as I’m concerned, Star Wars loses some of it’s epic quality without The Clone Wars. Its intertwining subplots and political machinations provide the context for the war and reveal how the Empire came to be. The style of animation was perfect for its stories; the show wouldn’t have had the same impact with typical cartoonish-looking characters and scenery. It was very dark and gritty and real….as much if not more so than it might have been as a live-action series. I hope The Clone Wars isn’t the last Star Wars production we see in that style of animation. Disney needs to get over its insistence on cutesy, big-eyed characters and bright colors in its animation. It’ll be a disservice to the franchise and its fans if they don’t.

11. What impact did The Clone Wars leave on the six movies for you? How did it change your way of watching the six movies?
Actually, because of The Clone Wars, I rarely watch the six films anymore, except to satisfy the occasional impulse. That series fulfilled all my needs as a Star Wars fan.

12. What’s your favorite aspect of the story in The Clone Wars and why?
My favorite aspect of The Clone Wars’ story is the same as that for Star Wars as a whole: the drive to help others and do one’s part to make the world better for everyone. Star Wars (and my maternal grandmother) essentially raised me to become a public servant, and The Clone Wars highlights and portrays such people in a positive light in nearly every episode. If you think about it, all of the heroes and most of the villains are civil servants, associated with government in some regard, which is awesome. People don’t think about government nearly enough, which is why politicians can get away with so much!

13. George Lucas said about the six movies “It’s ONE movie and it’s meant to be seen I through VI.” Do you agree with this statement and why?
I agree, although too late for my youngest nephews. I once subscribed to the notion that the films should be seen in the order they were released, but I tried that with my nephews – 8 at the time, as I was when I first saw ANH – and they were so bored with the OT films that they weren’t interested in watching the PT. I’ll have to try again when after TFA comes out, and all their classmates are raving about Star Wars…

14. How do you feel concerning the promoting of The Force Awakens in a kind of Prequel hate atmosphere (I’m especially making reference to what happened on SDCC this year)?
I thought it was an extremely bad PR move by Lucasfilm (and Ms Kennedy in particular), and I’m glad they’ve seemingly abandoned that marketing approach. But that’s what happens when a small group of highly outspoken malcontents dominates the public discourse (look what’s happened to the US government, because of this phenomenon). I remember the backlash against the PT…criticizing it became the trendy thing to do, and some in the entertainment media are under the mistaken impression that it still is. It just shows that no one should remain silent if you like something, because the critics are never reticent to voice their opinions. I regret not supporting The Clone Wars before it was cancelled; Disney may not have been so quick to discard the series had its many fans been more outspoken.

15. Final question: What is your level of anticipation for the upcoming Star Wars movie – The Force Awakens?
I’m more excited about TFA now than I was when I first heard that it was being made, and much more so since we’ve been shown that it does, in fact, feature a lot of Prequel-esque themes and battle scenes. I have a feeling that it’s going to be epic, and that I’m going to be in tears (in a good way) at the end of it. 🙂

May the Force be with you and see you next Monday for another interview!

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