The bard’s take on a galaxy far, far away

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'William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope' by Ian Doescher, book cover
‘William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope’ by Ian Doescher, book cover

The first “Star Wars” was a landmark in filmmaking, pushing the boundaries of what could be done with special effects back in the late ‘70s. When adapting to another medium, then, the most obvious choice is classical theater —Wait, what?!

Yes, “Star Wars” has been adapted into books, video games, comics, trading cards, board games, Legos and action figures. And now fans will get to experience the story of “Star Wars: A New Hope” the way it was always meant to be experienced: the original Shakespearean text.

The story shouldn’t have to be explained, as the film is ingrained deeply into American culture. It’s the most iconic form of the hero’s journey: a boy with great, hidden strength overcomes his own weaknesses to become the hero the world needs him to be.

It’s a trope as old as Homer and “The Odyssey,” and in that regard, it fits the Shakespearean style well. If not for the X-Wings and droids, it would have felt like a lost play from the bard himself.

But it wouldn’t be special if it were just “A New Hope” written in ye olde English, so many sly references and in-jokes have been inserted, both for “Star Wars” fans and for classical theater connoisseurs. Lines like “All the world’s a star” or “What light through yonder flashing sensor breaks” are easy for casual readers to pick up and enjoy, but the book is filled with other references to make even the most seasoned thespians grin from ear to ear.

And that’s to say nothing of seeing all of the iconic “Star Wars” scenes and moments reenacted in classical form. To see Obi-Wan’s Jedi mind trick and the infamous “Han shot first” fiasco performed in this context is a beautiful sight to see.

Of course, the book also contains classical sketches of, say, Jabba the Hutt in Elizabethian drab, and these are also a joy for fans to witness.

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The appeal is somewhat limited to those who are “Star Wars” fans, Shakespeare fans or both, because some references may fly by those who aren’t vested in either.

But for those who are deeply invested in either fanbase, a must read, this is.

Title: “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope”
Author: Ian Doescher
Rating: 4/5

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