Saturday, November 21, 2009

In Praise of Lando Calrissian

I tried watching The Empire Strikes Back for what was probably the eleventy-first time last weekend. Alas, Lucasfilm pulled some predictably asinine tomfoolery and the non-digitized version does not conform to the dimensions of my laptop. I have had no trouble with other DVDs, they all fit my computer automatically, as does the "Special Edition" version of Empire and the other Star Wars films.

Screw it. I've seen these movies seriously probably a hundred times since the pan-n'-scan, VHS, taped-off-HBO version, well-worn and kept in my parents library alongside favorites like Cosmos and Ken Burns Civil War.

When I was a kid I wanted to be Lando. I'd like to think nowadays that it was because my nascently literary mind recognized him as the closest thing to a morally ambiguous character (it's that same moral ambiguity that makes the previously mentioned Nancy Botwin such a win in my book) in the whole of Star Wars. Lando's a good guy. He's responsible for a whole city, and when you're responsible for those people, sometimes you have to make a deal with the devil, and sometimes that blows up in your face.

Really, though, I think it was the cape. There's that scene in Empire where Lando gets in to a scuffle with Han Solo and his cape comes off, revealing that at no time (unlike in Jedi) was it ever attached. That's right, America. Lando Calrissian saunters through Cloud City wearing a cape attached to his shoulders through the sheer virtue of his own awesomeness. THAT'S why I wanted to grow up to be Lando.

All the other kids, they wanted to be Han Solo or Boba Fett, and while I can't fault Solo (guy has his own ride and it is sweet) Fett dies like a chump in Jedi, and his biggest proponents can't explain to me the decision-making process that leads your salty badass to dress in pastels. Pastels. Who is it that orders his supercommando uniform from Mandalore Ltd., complete with rocket backpack, and gets ocean green highlights? Who? I ask you.

Give me Lando. Give me a guy who can fly the hero's ship if he has to, who owns the best real-estate in the galaxy (seriously, how unlikely is it to find an earth-liveable sweet spot on a gas giant, complete with shining white city?) who has to weigh his responsibility to hundreds of thousands of people against his responsibility to his friend, who makes a deal with the devil only to be redeemed, who Rocks. The. Cape.

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