Recently, I’ve been listening to several Star Wars audiobooks. For one, they have excellent narrators, awesome special effects, and music! But also because if I choose to read it instead, I probably would skip it to read something else. Star Wars books can be hit or miss for me, but it’s much more enjoyable to listen to it than read it.
Thus, I finally decided to dive down the rabbit hole of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher. I found a three-in-one audiobook of Verily, a New Hope, The Empire Striketh Back, and The Jedi Doth Return. And it was amazing.
Basically, Ian Doescher took the Star Wars movie scripts and wrote them as if they are a Shakespeare play instead, complete with Shakespearean dialogue, iambic pentameter lines, and stage directions.
I think the audiobooks only amplified how incredible these books are. Plus, Shakespeare should be heard, not read. The same goes for William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. If you have a chance to pick these books up, go with the audiobooks (or reading them out loud in your own dramatic voices works too).
First, they are full cast, which means there are different narrators for the various characters, who do do an excellent job of bringing the Shakespearean dialogue to life. Second, the audiobooks include music and sound effects and a hilarious opening and ending that mimics stepping into the Globe Theater for a show. I pretty much almost crashed my car while listening because I was laughing so hard.
In addition, Ian Doescher is a brilliant genius! The idea of Shakespeare Star Wars is so bizarre it works. Seriously. R2D2 has these asides that share his (sarcastic) thoughts during certain moments, Lando has dramatic soliloquies, and even Jabba’s Huttese is in iambic pentameter. And the carbonate scene in Empire? So Dramatic. You think the movie version is dramatic, the drama in this version is tenfold. I love it.
I had a blast hearing Han speak in Shakespearean or listening to Luke say “Fie!” about literally everything. Ian Doescher explains in his author notes that Star Wars and Shakespeare plays have a lot of similarities when it comes to story structure. Whether it’s the use of the hero’s journey or has the structure of a tragedy, the two mesh together so well these adaptations basically wrote themselves.
But I also love how he expands upon the language of Shakespeare to give his work its own quirks. Yoda speaks in haiku, Boba Fett speaks in prose, and the Ewoks’ language is a mix of words and gibberish with a specific rhythm pattern. It’s so cool. He also includes famous lines from Shakespeare but with a twist, such as “Once more unto the trench, my friends!” and “[Exit, pursued by Wampa.]” I don’t think if I’ve ever had so much fun listening to Shakespeare before.
Unfortunately, only the first three (Episodes IV-VI) have been adapted into audiobooks. (Come on, Disney and Quirk Books!) Ian Doescher has written adaptations for the other Star Wars movies, including The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. I suppose you’ll just have to gather your friends for a dramatic reading of those titles instead.
I’ll be honest, I was a bit skeptical that these books could really do justice to Shakespeare and Star Wars, but they do. If anything, they make for a good laugh and an enjoyable audiobook experience. Highly recommended for anybody who enjoys Star Wars and Shakespeare.