Legless in Legoland

I’ve become mildly obsessed by this image:


How do you get a Lego figure to look traumatised by the death of the woman it loves, and the supposed deaths of its newborn children, and the loss of its legs, and third degree burns over all of its body?

And what kind of a culture is it that even tries?

(Of course, as Richard Pilbeam – who brought the image to my attention in the first place – remarked, the Lego figure does a better job than Hayden Christensen.)

It strikes me that, the more Lego tries to cope with reconstructing scenes from movies – especially from movies like the Star Wars  prequels or the later Harry Potter  movies, that are self-consciously ‘dark’ – the more it has to bring in elements of painful ‘realism’, i.e. scars on Anakin’s face… but the addition of such features to the Lego aesthetic has an unfortunate effect… it starts to make it look like they’re taking the piss, South Park  style, by representing things like serious injuries in crude, cartoon form.

This is particularly evident in the way the figure above simply has no Lego legs provided.  Is there any child who ever played with Lego who didn’t, at some point, hold up a Lego torso/head combination without the legs attached and scream, on behalf of the figure, something along the lines of “AAAARGH!  WHERE ARE MY LEGS????”, thus causing themselves wild hilarity?  I know I did.  (I hope I’m not telling you things about myself that I shouldn’t… but, to be honest, I write a blog that tries to subject Doctor Who to Marxist analysis, so, realistically, what have I got to lose in terms of being taken seriously?)  The thing is that this exact same strategy – the leaving off of the legs – is now being deliberately employed by Lego to depict horrific mutilation.

Partly this is to do with the fact that a generation who grew up watching Star Wars  are now writing and filming stories… and, in common with the fan mindset everywhere, they want to do the same kinds of stories, but better… more serious, more ‘dark’, etc.  This is a double edged blade.  It gave birth to the good and bad of the Virgin New Adventures, the good and bad of 2005+ Who, the good and bad of modern SF/fantasy fiction and film making.  The apotheosis of the bad may be the awkward attempts to do ‘realist’ but bloodless and politically illiterate depictions of urban terrorism in the Nolan Batman films, with the urban terrorist opposed by a moralist ninja in a ‘realistic’ bat outfit.  One side effect of this is that, increasingly, SF/Fantasy tries to be ‘serious’ and often tries to do this using what we might call The Gatiss Manoeuver, i.e. it tries to bring in pain and suffering.

Of course, there is a big dose of knowing, sly-winking, in-on-the-joke irony inherent in the whole Lego Star Wars / Harry Potter / Pirates of the Caribbean  thing, the toys and computer games and film-recreations.…

Continue Reading