Monday, February 14, 2011

Musings on Stormtroopers.... Thoughts of a fanboy

Since the first time I saw Episode IV in 1977 I have been a colossal Star Wars Fan. As I have stated before... If there were ever any prequels made... which there were’nt... I would not be a fan. ANH, ESB and ROTJ hold a place in my heart and a permanent hunk of my imagination. Since that day over 30 years ago, I have also been a fan of what I consider to be the #1 best conceived and visualized bad guy foot soldier in all of SciFidom.... The Stormtrooper.

The Zenith, to me, for those white armored servants of the empire, was Star Wars ( or as it is known now to the kids... Star Wars: A New Hope). I could tell the gentle reader about the subtle changes in the armor making process over the movies and that in Star Wars the armor actually had more pieces then the other movies those making it appear more articulate... but I shall refrain. To the Clockwinder it just appeared that the stormtrooper was more real then in the other films of the series.

From that first shoot out at the beginning of the film to the explosion of the Deathstar I buy the fact that these guys are the empires badasses. The Stormtroopers on Tatooine ( Sandtrooper was actually a latter term, the original script and novelization by Lucas referred to them as Stormtroopers) were a incredible work of the costuming art, the dirt and grime, the rank paldrons and backpacks made them so believable. The use of old equipment such as German SMG Magazine pouches and the imaginative use of real world weapons and items, for example those Rank Paldrons were actually Motocross Chest Protectors, gave them a unsurpassed Realism. I will still watch those scenes over and over again, “Look Sir Droids”, “How long have you had these Droids” and “Stop that Ship” are like alert words for me to stop what Im doing and look up at the TV.

To me, the Tatooine Stormtroopers show us what these baddies look like on campaign, covered with dirt, burdened with equipment. They are “Salty”, they are hardened veterans who can spot replacements by the shine of there clean armor.... but thats me :o).

In ANH, the weapons of the Stormtroopers were actual dressed up Sterling l2a3 SMG’s with some of the other heavier weapons being played by MG34’s, MG15’s and Lewis Guns that gave them a real non-plastic look and feel. The Sterlings actually fired blanks and in some scenes you can see the spent casings ejecting from some weapons. This gave them a kick and flash that was a hallmark of ANH and ESB ( After ESB they decided to go to Replica Sterlings and resin casts).

I know its a Fanboy nerdling thing, but it always amazes me how we have lost the ability to replicate the realism of the 1977 film. When I watch the Special edition and I see the added Stormtroopers in the “Look Sir, Droids” scene... I am Appalled by the lack of Artistry. They look like some one took a pant brush and just splotched on some brown paint, their backpacks look like they were made by Kenner and their paldrons out of felt... its like the difference between night and day. It is strange that perhaps the best trooper costuming since ESB has been accomplished by fans and maybe that says a little about the difference between Love and a Job.

In ESB we were introduced to Snowtroopers and it wasnt until Bespin that the ol Stormies showed up in any numbers. In ROTJ with the time and cost saving measures the Stormtrooper didnt seem as “Real” as he had in the past and the sillines of the great Ewok war only compounded the downward slide... but they were still there and still cool, not some CGI generated Piece of bantha crap like Clonetroopers that in 2 movies and numerous cartoons, have never been a 16th as cool as the Stormtrooper.

Here I sit, 45 years old, writing a blog post about fictitious bad guys from a movie over 30 years ago. Yes, I will place my “Loser” crown on my troubled brow and wear it proudly, because even after 3 decades I still enjoy watching those movies and I still think that the Imperial Stormtrooper was the best conceived and executed Baddy in all of Scifi and Fantasydom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Never noticed the shell casing thing, or knew what the weapons were made from. Thanks for the info - I always loved the Stormtroopers and dreamed of a day I could own a suit of their armor. Technically now I guess I could, but the desire isn't quite there anymore (lady Aravan is surely quite happy about that).