May 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
I don’t think George Lucas ever saw Wicked.
I don’t think he ever read the book by Gregory Maguire, on which the musical is based.
I know the man reads. Well, I know he’s read at least one book about heroic mythology by Joseph Campbell. Erm, I know he probably knows someone who could sum it up for him. But he probably reads.
The nice thing about a musical, though, is you don’t have to read anything. You just sit back, watch, and listen, right?
If Lucas watched Wicked, he might get a clue about how best to handle a villain’s back story and at the same time help flesh out the mystical universe created in previous works. If you know the story of Wicked, keep reading. If you don’t, if you wish to remain unspoiled, then stop right here. If you don’t, and you don’t care about spoilers, let’s keep on trucking. The wimps have had time to slip away through the exits by now.
Rather than burden us with convoluted trade disputes and bizarre immaculate conceptions a la The Phantom Menace, Wicked treats us to the story of Elphaba, born of a tryst between a married woman and a traveling salesman who persuades her to drink a strange green elixir. The musical then goes on to tell the story of Oz’s civil rights problems and weaves a dark tale about the origins of the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow. It’s The Empire Strikes Back of fairy tales, except we’re rooting for the (apparent) villain.
In the end, we find out that the Wicked Witch of the West is actually the daughter of that scam artist Oz himself.
Wouldn’t it have been great in the prequels to have a scene when Palpatine makes a diplomatic visit to Tatooine (maybe it’s Hug a Hutt Week in the Senate) and he hits it off with a nice slave lady in the cantina? They dance along with the Bith band, get drunk, and end up sleeping together. Years later, Anakin shows up at Li’l Sith Academy with big dreams of serving the Emperor someday.
We’d have to work on making him different, like Elphaba’s green skin, so let’s go with: Hugely asthmatic. He lives in a plastic bubble with flashing lights and a special respirator, so he’s a ten-year-old kid with the voice of James Earl Jones.
Really, the plot sells itself, I think.
In the end, unlike the Star Wars prequels, Wicked actually builds up the legend of the witch and lets the character retain massive amounts of dignity that were sadly ripped away from Darth Vader at the end of Revenge of the Sith.