This article is part of The Daly Planet Presents: The Twelve Days Of Christmas Movies, a daily series leading up to Christmas Eve 2015. To see all other entries click here.
Since the death of The Author on May 19, 1999, critical analysis everywhere has become unshackled by the corrupted intent of content producers, foisting upon us an infinite intellectual renaissance not seen since the early 1700s. What better way to celebrate this advance in the human condition than by analysis of the greatest Christmas movie ever made, The Star Wars Holiday Special?
What makes The Star Wars Holiday Special (TSWHS, henceforth) so great, and so essential a piece of American cinema, is that it is abundantly clear that no Intent ever existed behind its creation. In this way, it becomes a tabula rasa for meaning itself—a cornucopia of subtextual crème de la crème—a bourgeois Ubermensch’s shibboleth for Being.
On the surface of the Surface of meanings, TSWHS is about Chewbacca’s family—sans Chewbacca—waiting for Chewbacca to return home so that they may celebrate Life Day. (The novice viewer might misidentify ‘Life Day’ as a poorly concealed nondenominational stand-in for Christmas. On closer inspection, of course, Life Day is simply Easter). Unfortunately, Han Solo and Chewbacca are intercepted by two star destroyers (The Three Wise Men), and are hence late to the celebration. The bulk of the film involves the interactions of Chewie’s family with Art Carney (Art Carney) and a team of Empire Interrogators (Jesus) who descend upon the family in search of Chewie, while Han and Chewie make their way home off-screen.
What elevates this simple plot from mundanity, though, are the various interstitial stories (henceforth, The Parables) intercut with stills of Lumpy’s face (Chewie’s son, also Satan)—all of which are bookended by Wookiee dialogue.
In a stroke of directorial genius, none of the Wookiee dialogue is subtitled. This establishes a symmetrical dialectic between Wookiee versus Wookiee, Viewer versus Wookiee, and Lumpy versus Viewer. These various dialectics are moderated by the act of Viewing, and in so doing, become a vehicle for the advancement of the plot itself. In other words: different characters say things but it is in Wookiee so you do not know what they are saying. And then these characters watch other things happen on screens. You continue to watch.
These Things are, of course, intimately related.
For example, in a long running interstitial occupying the middle third of the film, and in direct visual reference to Quentin Tarantino’s excellent docu-drama Kill Bill Volume 2 (see also, The Animatrix), Lumpy watches an animated featurette detailing a seemingly tangential adventure involving Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, and a dragon-worm on a planet with oceans of Koolaid (see Neon Genesis Evangelion). This achieves a second level dialectic as the viewer (Viewer) views Lumpy (Viewee and Viewer, Satan) viewing (Viewing) the cartoon (Viewee, The Second Parable). Viewer-ship hence Becomes Elevated.
(Interestingly, this featurette contains probably the only scene in the entire film devoid of irony, wherein Han and Luke succumb to a sleeping virus)
Shortly thereafter, and in direct visual reference to Quentin Tarantino’s foundational docu-comedy Inglourious Basterds, Chewie’s family and the encroaching Empire search party all stop and watch a nearly 15-minute musical featurette (The Third Parable) about a man’s attempts at wooing an all too human Bea Arthur (Bea Arthur). Notably, the man consumes liquid by pouring it directly into a hole on top of his head (If only we lived in a world where the act of consumption could be performed so easily (see The Matrix)).
Thirdly, and, although chronologically previous, thematically succeeding the prior two examples, the plot seems to be put on hold so that the yonic father of Chewbacca, Itchy, may view a lengthy erotic holo-musical performed by the Seussian Diahann Carroll.
What do these seemingly disjoint interruptions to the mundanity of Wookiee life share? Only the most primal subtext of all: self awareness. TSWHS knows that it is, at its core, a piece of entertainment. What better way to celebrate Easter than by inclusion of no less than five musical interludes with vanishing relevance to the plot?
Each and every interlude is a nod to cinema itself—a quiet joke—‘You’re watching this on a screen? These characters can watch things on screens too! Look!’ Utterly profound.
Don’t miss this piece of cinema history.
Elevator pitch: You might wonder how a film about Easter can be the greatest Christmas movie ever made. This is but another facet of TSWHS’s Transcendental Quality.
Favorite moment: When the Empire search party is first revealed, the shot lingers as if to ask, “Do you not see the storm troopers? Do you not remember Hoth?” A beautiful homage to that tragic day.