Superman 1.15: Journey Across the Gulf of Space!

Well, if little Kal-El thought he could stretch out and relax during the journey from there to here, then he was mistaken; his dad has prepared a three-year-long audiobook for him to listen to on the trip. We see the boy traveling through clouds of space plankton in his star bubble, and above the sound of a passing scherzo, we hear extracts from Jor-Audible.

The first fragment that we hear is “… which Einstein called his theory of relativity.” I don’t know if that’s chapter one or not; I would hope they’d ease the kid in a bit before jumping straight to Einstein. This is a weird belief that science-fiction writers have, that you can learn things more efficiently if you’re being brainwashed by a computer, because education is basically a data download, and actual engagement with the material just gets in the way.

So I want to take a look at what kind of schooling is going on here, and try, for at least a couple minutes, not to talk about Beppo.

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Superman 1.14: Music from the Hearts of Space

All right, here’s the situation: we are currently three weeks in on this new format that I’ve invented for myself, where I try to comment on every element of Superman: The Movie that I can think of, and today is one of those “face the music” posts, both literally and figuratively. At some point, I have to write about John Williams’ orchestral score, because it’s an important part of the movie and people who like movie scores are entirely obsessed with it, but I don’t know much about music and I am utterly hopeless on the subject.

I mean, I have this booklet that came with the Superman: The Music box set, and here’s what it says about the score during the “space capsule flying across the galaxy” sequence:

“Scherzo for the starship’s three-year journey. A swirling woodwind line suggests the speed at which the spacecraft is traveling while high-register violins sing a lofty melody exclusive to this cue; statements of the Fanfare are overlaid skillfully.”

My issue, obviously, is that I don’t know what scherzo means; I even went and read the Wikipedia article on scherzo, and I still don’t know what scherzo means.

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Superman 1.13: … Except for Star Wars

A planet explodes into fragments, and boils away into the void. A tiny space capsule streaks across the stars, heading for a crash landing on a seemingly unimportant planet. An orphan with a destiny grows up on a farm, unaware that he’s the latest in a line of noble heroes.

With a blend of space opera, high-stakes action, romance, danger and comic relief on an epic scale, Superman: The Movie was the biggest, most exciting cinema spectacle of its time… except for Star Wars, which did the same stuff but bigger, better, and eighteen months earlier.

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Superman 1.12: Glass Houses

Everything is crystals, for some reason, so it’s honestly difficult to tell how much of this is the computer and how much is interior design. The way that you activate it is to take one of the crystals, and put it into one of the glass tubes, and then you take it out again, and put it down in a big stack of identical crystals. Every once in a while, one of the crystals turns green, if that helps. You know, they say that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, but there’s still such a thing as a user interface.

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Superman 1.10: Crazy Little Thing Called Love

So Plan B, as I understand it, was to get everybody in the science council to sign off on constructing a fleet of massive space arks, which would carry the entire population of Krypton to a planet that’s not scheduled to blow up within the next thirty days.

I imagine that Plan C was for Jor-El to just take his own wife and baby in a family-sized rocket ride to elsewhere, but then the stupid science council said that would create a climate of fear and panic, so he had to promise that he and Lara wouldn’t leave the planet.

They’re currently working on Plan D, which is to at least get the kid somewhere with a supply of passing motorists and farm families, and even that’s getting the science council all worked up, so they’re going to have to work fast. Meanwhile, Lara is advocating for some unspecified Plan E. It would have been easier if they could have stuck with Plan A, which was for the planet just not to blow up in the first place.

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Superman 1.8: See You Later

And in the other corner: General Zod and his Kryptonian dance crew, appearing temporarily in their standing-room-only farewell stadium show.

Now, I think it’s fair to say that there were mistakes on both sides. Yes, Non is a mindless aberration whose only means of expression are wanton violence and destruction. True, the woman Ursa’s perversions and unreasoning hatred of all mankind have threatened even the children of the planet Krypton. Admittedly, General Zod — once trusted by this council, charged with maintaining the defense of the planet Krypton itself — was chief architect of this intended revolution and author of this insidious plot to establish a new order amongst us, with himself as absolute ruler.

I think the important thing is that we come together as a bipartisan coalition, put the past behind us, and start working on the issues that really matter to the average Kryptonian.

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Superman 1.7: Jor-El and the Magic Wand

“This is no fantasy!” Jor-El declares. “No careless product of wild imagination.” He’s talking to a huge screen, showing a projection of oversized, grim faces surveying the scene. “No, my good friends,” the speaker assures them, stepping into the frame. “These indictments —”

At that moment, the long, thin lucite rod that he’s holding goes BLINGG!! and lights up at the end. And he looks at it, clearly saying to himself, so what the hell is this thing supposed to be?

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Superman 1.6: We Built This City

Tracking across the limitless void, we zero in on a mighty red sun, which soon fills our view. An ancient blue planet orbits this commanding star, home to a noble civilization of powerful beings who live in a domed city carved into the mountains of pure white crystalline rock. As the music builds to a fanfare so emphatic you’d think the orchestra would explode, the camera lingers on this frozen, glittering landscape.

So here’s my question: If Krypton is so great, why is it all indoors?

I mean, I’m not an expert on civilizations that are a million years more advanced than our own, but I’m pretty sure that good planets have furniture; from what I can see, everybody on Krypton just stands around and glows.

You can tell that Krypton is a terrible planet because it blows up fifteen minutes after we get there, which is the exact thing that planets aren’t supposed to do. You had one job.

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