My aim for the series I Am Your Father was to use gestures, facial expressions and camera angles to evoke some of The Empire Strikes Back’s iconic imagery in a modern day setting. I have tried to draw a parallel between my images and the film scene by featuring my dad and I in the roles. I feel this echoing of the father and son relationship makes the images more legitimate than if the roles had been played by two actors.
I have chosen the “I am your father” scene as it is one of the most famous in the entire Star Wars series; it very clearly contrasts the vulnerability of the Luke Skywalker character with the domineering Darth Vader by using a combination of high and low angles. Similarly, in each of my images, he is pictured further away from the camera, in wider shots than those of Vader, who commands the screen for most of his screen time, with an upright stature and strong posture. This sense of vulnerability is also amplified by the open void of the empty Plymouth Sound in the background.
I used everyday clothes and a modern environment to show that even without the trappings of science fiction, the expressions, gestures and angles still convey much of the same message. The iconography of the Star Wars films has become so ingrained in the public consciousness that I think even if I showed somebody just one of these images, they would still recognise it from the film. Both my dad and I encountered Star Wars at an early age; my dad was aged 7 when he saw it during its original theatrical release – “the most influential movie for me when I was growing up”; I was aged 3 when he took me to see the re-releases in 1997. It was fun to re-enact the sequence; it was almost second nature to us, as we are so familiar with the scene. However, for the shots which feature Luke, it was tricky to settle on the correct angle of the camera (positioned on a tripod) and the arrangement of the scene, all whilst starring in it myself, but we got there in the end!
The location used at the end of the Mount Batten breakwater had many similarities with the setting of the scene in the film, such as the metalwork and the steps, because it was very isolated, windy and atmospheric; I think my images have conveyed this well, although by adhering strictly to the film sequence, you don’t get to see much of Mount Batten itself. The array of small lights adorning the walls in the film scene are represented by the street lights and buildings along the Plymouth Hoe and the Barbican, deliberately out of focus to create a bokeh effect similar to one used in the scene.
I am very happy with the final outcome, especially with how the images match up with the original stills. My only criticism would be that the images could possibly have been more effective if they were more suggestive of the original scene, rather than being close imitations. Although the images are very striking, they are not very subtle, especially the way the wooden sticks are positioned!
Look at the images in my earlier blog post.