Review: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, by Ian Doescher

May the verse be with you! 

Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ‘Tis a tale told by fretful Droids, full of faithful Wookies and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying…pretty much everything. 

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for. 

Do you like Shakespeare, but find yourself disappointed by the lack of dramatic space battles? Do you revel in Star Wars, but feel the word “prithee” wasn’t used enough? Well then, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is for you.

It’s pretty much what it sounds like: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, but in the style of one of Shakespeare’s plays. At the same time, it’s not a line-for-line translation; soliliquies and monologues are added, expanding the script considerably (Luke’s two-lines in the later-third of the film, “It’s not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they’re not much bigger than two metres”, is thirty-eight lines long, and invokes Luke’s dead family and Leia’s dead planet), and many characters have little asides added to their dialogue that expands on it, filling in their thoughts and relating little stories they had heard that relate to the situation at hand, something Shakespeare was fond of doing. Characters’ motivations are expanded upon and explained. A chorus comes in to fill in parts of the story where there’s no dialogue to render, and relate the opening crawl as well. Because of this, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is not just the same as the movie.

Of course, it’s not actually all that different from the movie, either. Despite the expanded dialogue, you’re still getting the same story: restless farmboy leaves his planet with a couple of droids and a weird old guy to rescue his sister and save his galaxy from his father. Besides little things, like Luke reflecting on a story Beru told him before deciding to use the promise of a reward to convince Han to save Leia, nothing really new gets added to the story. It’s essentially a novelisation, except in iambic pentameter.

Nevertheless, it’s worth a read. The text includes references to the original Star Wars, including the Han Shot First controversy, shout-outs to Shakespeare, and references Star Trek at one point. Doescher’s translation was done very well, and the format, language and style make it similar to a real Shakespeare play and a fun read. 

And Darth Vader says “prithee”. Twice.

So, is it something different from the norm? Yes. Does it expand on the movie and show us more about the Star Wars universe? Well, not really. Is it fun reading? Oh hell yes. Definitely pick this up; maybe put on a performance for your friends or school (and invite me; or, at least, send me a video of it. I’d love to see it). It’s worth your time to read.

And Darth Vader says “prithee”.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

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