For some Star Wars devotees or Shakespeare nerds, you probably don’t have to read this entire article. All I have to ask is, “Do you wonder what Star Wars would have been like if Shakespeare wrote it?” and you’ll be off to Barnes and Noble faster than you can say womp rat.
Author Ian Doescher picked up the quill to give Episode IV: A New Hope a Shakespearean spin in a book that’s a lot of fun for readers of all nerdy persuasions and ages. Self-described as a “weirdo who likes writing in iambic pentameter,” Doescher does a marvelous job of crafting a full play with lines inspired by the movie. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars gives Shakespeare newbies (or those who have always been daunted by the Bard) plenty of familiar lines from the films to help them feel like they can get this Shakespeare stuff after all.
So tell me, else thou diest quick: where shall
We find transmissions thou didst intercept?
What hast thou done, say, with those plans?
As entertaining as it is to see some of our favorite scenes from Star Wars written in verse, it’s the soliloquies and asides from our beloved characters that really struck me. Doescher finally gives a voice to R2D2, who expresses his annoyance with the “pompous” C3PO and is fully aware of his importance in the galaxy. (Seriously, for all his beeps and boops, R2-D2 is one of the few characters that plays a major part in all six films. The Rebellion would never have succeeded without him. But I digress.)
There’s something extraordinary about giving Obi-Wan Kenobi a chance to wrestle with the right way to tell Luke about his father, Luke rousing the pilots about to take on the Death Star with a stirring speech, and Han Solo wrestling with the decision to take the money and leave or help his new friends.
Even with the somewhat gimmicky nature of the play, these soliloquies breathe new life into Star Wars characters by revealing motivations that have always remained behind the scenes. If nothing else, their reflections are food for thought about what doubts and decisions the characters would have faced, even if we never saw it happen.
And what a wonderful way to spark a conversation with your young lit lovers about the significance of both The Bard and Star Wars. Mature themes are addressed in both, but both are equally playful and immature at times. It’s never too early to introduce the classics to kids, and this book does it well.
Shakespeare nerds will find plenty of nods to beloved plays like Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Richard III, Julius Caesar and more, mixing some of Shakespeare’s famous quotes with some of Star Wars fans’ favorite lines.
– What light through yonder flashing sensor breaks?
– It marks the loss of yon deflector shield.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars masterfully blends its two namesakes in moments I never would have expected. I loved Leia’s melancholy song upon the destruction of Alderaan, which immediately brought two things to mind that have never existed in my thoughts at the same time: the “hey nonny nonny” verses from Much Ado About Nothing and Princess Leia singing in the Star Wars Holiday Special.
Once you’ve seen Leia sing for Life Day, you can never un-see it. Sorry.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is a slim volume that is chock full of, yes, Shakespeare and Star Wars. It’s a perfect gift for fans of either, and even more fun if you’re a fan of both. If you have a young reader in your family — say, a teen who is struggling with Shakespeare in a high school lit class — hand them this book to show them that they can understand iambic pentameter after all.
All images © Quirk Books.