Thursday, January 06, 2011

Irvin Kershner Now One With The Force

On November 27 / 2010 the world of film lost one of the most influencial and lesse known directors of our time.  Irvin Kershner, known to the geek community the world over as the director of one of the most influencial science fiction films ever and arguably (but not by me) the best STAR WARS film THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.  Although George Lucas will forever be hailed as the creator of STAR WARS and he has some pretty fucking cool ideas (I mean, who the fuck wouldn't want a light saber?) I think it can generally be agreed that he's pretty shitty at actually directing movies.  I won't deny old George his own achievements and the undeniable influence he's had on the collective consciousness of humanity but I don't think his vision would have come to (the same level of) fruition without the involvement of Mr. Kershner.  I don't know what magical combination of events lead to te awesomeness that is EMPIRE but it is undeniable that Irvin Kershner was a big part of that magic.  He helped create one of the most seminal pieces of science fiction of the 20th century, but to me that's not his legacy.  Or at least, not all of it.

To me Irvin Kershner's career is the ultimate embodiment of kharmic redistribution.  He directed one of the most iconic movies of his (or any) generation, but then he also directed one of the shittiest.  The same man who directed the superb and influential THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK also directed ROBOCOP 2, one of the worst movies I've ever had the displeasure of watching.  He also directed NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, easily of the worst Bond movies ever, and definitely one of the worst movies ever. I mean ROBOCOP 2 and NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN aren't at the very bottom of the barrel, but they're pretty fucking close.  This is not a bad thing, though.  His amazing success and subsequent failures make Irvin Kershner's career and life almost mythic.  It's as if, like Achilleus, Kershner was given a choice by the gods themselves: Make a lifetime of mediocre movies with moderate financial success but be lost in the deserts of history, or make one of the most important movies of your generation and be cursed to make some of the shittiest and have your name live forever amongst nerds around the world.

Irvin Kershner was lucky.  I would consider myself lucky if I only produced one game-changing cultural work and then produce nothing but garbage in comparison.  Because the thing is even though he directed ROBOCOP 2, when I hear the name Irvin Kershner I think EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.  Kharma is a funny thing.  I always wondered if Neil Young was right about it being better to burn out than to fade away.  Irvin Kershner was one of the lucky few: he was able to do both.  May the Force be with you, Irvin Kershner.


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