Monday, August 5, 2013

Star Trek v. Wars

I have long loved Star Trek. In fact, I wore a Star Trek uniform for my 4th grade school pictures (TNG is the best, by the way). Recently, my wife and I have been going through the Star Wars films again (I own them all :) ), and I was reminded how much I really love Star Wars, as well. I saw a comment elsewhere that we have to remember that many people are fans of both Trek and Wars (but Trek is better).

It's been getting me thinking about the true differences between the two, not just the surface difference of more action in Wars than Trek. For some reason, it just recently hit me that the titles really reflect a lot of the fundamental difference (duh :) ). Trek really is about exploration and the journey of development. Wars is about... war. So it makes sense the latter has more action while the former is more focused on science. I think this is why Trek is such an enduring deeper interest for me. I'm not interested in the elements of exploration and development than just action and adventure.

In watching the special features for Episodes 1-III of Star Wars, it's so clear how visual George Lucas is. It makes a lot of sense why the Wars films have so much action. He actually explicitly stated that some scenes are all about visual storytelling, not the dialogue. In contrast, Ben Burtt (the sound designer for both the Wars films and the JJ Trek) talked about how his first exposure to TOS was just hearing audio recordings of the first several episodes. Because the dialogue, descriptions, and sounds were so good, he could visualize everything that was going on. Others often commented in reinvigorating Trek recently that Trek battles were more like "submarine warfare"--slow and dialogue-driven. That's what Abrams has been trying to change a bit. While I like traditional Trek, I really appreciate the revamped Trek, as well.

In some of the special features of the 2009 Star Trek film, JJ Abrams and others commented that Trek is about our future, while Wars is "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." Roddenberry had an exceedingly positive view of humanity, and Trek is all abut optimism and building hope for developing a strong future for us. Wars is more a great saga about something that might have been.

I think these elements together really help to explain why Trek can actually become a way of life for some people (if you aren't familiar with this, watch either of the Trekkies documentaries--fascinating). I haven't heard of Star Wars fans taking things to that level. Trek has inspired scientists and encouraged real-life growth and development.

For me, Star Wars is a lot of fun, but it doesn't necessarily leave me with deep, lasting impacts. I love the moral and ethical dilemmas posed regularly in Star Trek. I find so much more to dialogue with, especially when applying spiritual values. There's definitely some of this in Wars (particularly the Jedi philosophy and traditions), but it just doesn't feel as rich to me. I think it's for this reason that Trek seems better in a serialized TV format, allowing for a slower pace, while Wars is more appropriate for the big screen. Both have done well in both arenas, but we'll see how it goes as JJ becomes a sci-fi uber-god, having a major hand in bringing back both franchises!

I'll always enjoys Wars and will definitely see the new ones in theaters (heck, I did a midnight showing for Episode III), but Trek will always have my heart. Who's with me?! ;)

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