Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope
Author: Ian Doescher
Published By: Quirk Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I'm one of those rare breed of students who enjoyed William Shakespeare's works since they were introduced to me in junior high school. I worked my way through most of the tragedies and comedies written by the man and even acted out one of the sword fight scenes for a school presentation. I am also an avid Star Wars fan. When I saw William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope, I cocked my head in that confused puppy sort of way. Then I opened up the book and read a couple of pages and found myself laughing in the middle of the bookstore. I knew I had to have this book.
Author Ian Doescher was born just forty-five days after Star Wars: A New Hope hit the theaters and an avid fan of Shakespeare since the eighth grade. Realizing that George Lucas' film contained characters and relationships similar to those in Star Wars, Doescher set out to combine the two. Thus, we have the book that places Star Wars: A New Hope in a Shakespearian light, complete with moments of chorus narration between scenes and acts, soliloquies and asides by Darth Vader, Tarkin, Ben Kenobi, Han Solo, R2-D2 (yes, we learn he can speak Basic though he never lets anyone else in the play know) and C-3PO.
And then there is that flowery Elizabethan speech that simply cracks me up. Just picture C-3PO saying, "Pray, R2-D2, where art thou?" or "Forsooth, how did we get into this mess?" or Princess Leia's famous line now Shakespeare-ized: "O help me Obi-Wan Kenobi , help. Thou art my only hope." Darth Vader becomes a mix of villain and tragic hero as Ian Doescher offers glimpses into his psyche using what we now know about his past. And who won't laugh as Vader Force grips Admiral Motti's throat saying, "I find thy lack of faith disturbing."
Doescher does a good job turning the original science fiction tale into something worthy of a Shakespearian stage. He has help along the way in the form of art by Nicolas Delort, who allows us a glimpse as to the costumes the various characters would be wearing if A New Hope were ever actually transformed into a Shakespearian play. It must not have been easy to write this book, what with all the technical sci-fi jargon in the dialogue, but the author does a credible job, eliciting quite a few chuckles from me along the way at his cleverness. Especially toward the end. Those who enjoyed this book may note a clue at the end hinting at a possible sequel.
If you loathe Shakespeare, this book will only frustrate you, but if you enjoy his works and are a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, you are going to have a lot of fun with Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope, especially when you notice the moments in which the author sneaks in moments from actual Shakespeare works, comparing certain Star Wars characters to those in Shakespeare's tragedies. For fans of both genre, this book is quite a different and original change of pace. Bravo, Mr. Doescher!