Prequel

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A prequel is a literary, dramatic, or cinematic work whose story precedes that of a previous work, [1] [2] by focusing on events that occur before the original narrative. [3] A prequel is a work that forms part of a backstory to the preceding work.

A backstory, background story, back-story, or background is a set of events invented for a plot, presented as preceding and leading up to that plot. It is a literary device of a narrative history all chronologically earlier than the narrative of primary interest.

Contents

All "prequels" are, by definition, essentially sequels in that they "expand on a previous or preceding work." [4] The term is a 20th-century neologism that is a portmanteau of the prefix "pre-" (from Latin prae, "before") and "sequel". [1] [2]

A sequel is a literature, film, theatre, television, music or video game that continues the story of, or expands upon, some earlier work. In the common context of a narrative work of fiction, a sequel portrays events set in the same fictional universe as an earlier work, usually chronologically following the events of that work.

A neologism describes a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not yet been fully accepted into mainstream language. Neologisms are often driven by changes in culture and technology, and may be directly attributable to a specific person, publication, period, or event. In the process of language formation, neologisms are more mature than protologisms.

A portmanteau or portmanteau word is a linguistic blend of words, in which parts of multiple words or their phones (sounds) are combined into a new word, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog, or motel, from motor and hotel. In linguistics, a portmanteau is defined as a single morph that represents two or more morphemes.

Like other sequels, prequels may or may not concern the same plot as the work from which they are derived. Often, they explain the background which led to the events in the original, but sometimes the connections are not as explicit. Sometimes, prequels play on the audience's knowledge of what will happen next, using deliberate references to create dramatic irony.

History

Though the word "prequel" is of recent origin, works fitting this concept existed long before. The Cypria , presupposing hearers' acquaintance with the events of the Homeric epic, confined itself to what preceded the Iliad , and thus formed a kind of introduction.

The Cypria is a lost epic poem of ancient Greek literature, which has been attributed to Stasinus and was quite well known in classical antiquity and fixed in a received text, but which subsequently was lost to view. It was part of the Epic Cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic hexameter verse. The story of the Cypria comes chronologically at the beginning of the Epic Cycle, and is followed by that of the Iliad; the composition of the two was apparently in the reverse order. The poem comprised eleven books of verse in epic dactylic hexameters.

<i>Iliad</i> Epic poem attributed to Homer

The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word "prequel" first appeared in print in 1958 in an article by Anthony Boucher in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction , used to describe James Blish's 1956 story They Shall Have Stars, which expanded on the story introduced in his earlier 1955 work, Earthman Come Home. The term came into general usage in the 1970s and 1980s. [2]

<i>Oxford English Dictionary</i> Premier historical dictionary of the English language

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press. It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as describing usage in its many variations throughout the world. The second edition, comprising 21,728 pages in 20 volumes, was published in 1989.

Anthony Boucher Editor, novelist, short story writer

Anthony Boucher was an American author, critic, and editor, who wrote several classic mystery novels, short stories, science fiction, and radio dramas. Between 1942 and 1947 he acted as reviewer of mostly mystery fiction for the San Francisco Chronicle. In addition to "Anthony Boucher", White also employed the pseudonym "H. H. Holmes", which was the pseudonym of a late-19th-century American serial killer; Boucher would also write light verse and sign it "Herman W. Mudgett".

<i>The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction</i> digest magazine

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is a U.S. fantasy and science fiction magazine first published in 1949 by Fantasy House, a subsidiary of Lawrence Spivak's Mercury Press. Editors Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas had approached Spivak in the mid-1940s about creating a fantasy companion to Spivak's existing mystery title, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. The first issue was titled The Magazine of Fantasy, but the decision was quickly made to include science fiction as well as fantasy, and the title was changed correspondingly with the second issue. F&SF was quite different in presentation from the existing science fiction magazines of the day, most of which were in pulp format: it had no interior illustrations, no letter column, and text in a single column format, which in the opinion of science fiction historian Mike Ashley "set F&SF apart, giving it the air and authority of a superior magazine".

Butch and Sundance: The Early Days (1979) may have introduced the term "prequel" into the mainstream. [5] The term has since been popularized by the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999-2005). [6] [ unreliable source? ]

<i>Butch and Sundance: The Early Days</i> 1979 Western film directed by Richard Lester

Butch and Sundance: The Early Days is a 1979 Western film and prequel of sorts to the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It stars Tom Berenger as Butch Cassidy and William Katt as the Sundance Kid.

Usage

Rather than being a concept distinct from that of a sequel, a prequel still adheres to the general principle of serialization, defined only by its internal chronology and publication order. For example, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) is a prequel to Return of the Jedi (1983) but is only a predecessor rather than a prequel of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) because of the release order. Likewise, 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a prequel to 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark, in that it is set in 1935, one year before the first film.

Complications

Sometimes "prequel" describes followups where it is not always possible to apply a label defined solely in terms of intertextuality. [7] In the case of The Godfather Part II , the narrative combines elements of a prequel with those of a more generalized sequel by having two intercut narrative strands, one continuing from the first film (the mafia family story under the leadership of Michael Corleone), and one, completely separate, detailing events that precede it (the story of his father Vito Corleone in his youth). In this sense the film can be regarded as both a "prequel and a sequel" (i.e., both a prior and a continuing story), and is often referred to in this manner. [7]

In the original Planet of the Apes series, even though the latter three films depict world events chronologically prior to those of the first two films, the narrative itself is continuous for the main characters, as three apes from the first two films go back in time. The later installments ( Escape from... , [8] Conquest of... , [9] [10] and Battle for... [11] ) are sometimes called "prequels" in a broad sense of the word, but they are primarily sequels, as defined both broadly (as later installments) and narrowly (as continuation of the previously established storyline). [1]

In recent times the term "prequel" has also been applied to origin-story reboots, such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes , Batman Begins , and Casino Royale . [12] [13] The creators of both Batman Begins and Rise of the Planet of the Apes also stated their intent to dispense with the continuity of the previous films so they would exist as separate pieces of work, with Christopher Nolan—director of Batman Begins—explicitly stating he does not consider it a prequel. [13] [14] Here, "prequel" denotes status as a "franchise-renewing original" that depicts events earlier in the (internally inconsistent) narrative cycle than those of a previous installment. [13] Most reviewers require that a prequel must lead up to the beginning of its original work, [3] which is inconsistent with works that dispense with the narrative of previous work and are not significantly within the same continuity. At times, the term has been used to refer to a work that was released, as well as chronologically set, before any other work. [15] [16] However, that usage conflicts with the fact that a prequel is a type of sequel.

The 2009 film Star Trek features characters from the 1960s TV series Star Trek , but earlier in their careers. However, the film is set in an alternate timeline caused by a Romulan captain from the universe of the original series going back in time and interfering with history. Thus, the film has been described as simultaneously a prequel and a reboot. [17]

See also

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<i>Planet of the Apes</i> science fiction media franchise

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<i>War for the Planet of the Apes</i> 2017 science fiction film directed by Matt Reeves

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<i>Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive</i>

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.). Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster. 1993. pp. 921, 915, 1068, 246.
  2. 1 2 3 "prequel, n.". Oxford English Dictionary (online) (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. March 2012 [March 2007]. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  3. 1 2 Silverblatt, Art (2007). Genre Studies in Mass Media: A Handbook. M. E. Sharpe. p.  211. ISBN   9780765616708. Prequels focus on the action that took place before the original narrative. For instance, in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith the audience learns about how Darth Vader originally became a villain. A prequel assumes that the audience is familiar with the original—the audience must rework the narrative so that they can understand how the prequel leads up to the beginning of the original.
  4. merriam-Webster Dictionary, Entry for sequel
  5. Burgess, Steve (1999-06-26). "Richard Lester: A Hard Day's Life". Lester may also have locked up the dubious distinction of inaugurating the term 'prequel' in 1979 when he directed 'Butch and Sundance: The Early Days.'
  6. Deever, Chris (28 May 2001). "On prequels and The Prequel". TruthInStuff. Archived from the original on 1 January 2004.
  7. 1 2 Jess-Cooke, Carolyn (2009). Film Sequels: Theory and Practice from Hollywood to Bollywood. Edinburgh University Press. p.  6. ISBN   9780748626038.
  8. Dirks, Tim. "Science Fiction Films Part 5". AMC Filmsite. A sequel and prequel to the first two films.
  9. Britt, Ryan; Tor.com. "Who's Your Caesar? Rewatching Conquest of the Planet of the Apes". Macmillan Publishing. Conquest is in a separate category of films as it serves as both a sequel to the previous film and a prequel to the first two films.
  10. Matheou, Demetrios (August 14, 2011), "Ascent of Ape", The Sunday Herald , Washington, D.C., Aficionados of the original series of five films will know that a prequel already exists, namely Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes.
  11. Chappell, Arthur (2011-08-20). Film Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes: After the Tim Burton travesty, the Apes are back in a genuinely fantastic movie. History. Socyberty/Triond. Stunning prequel to the original Planet Of The Apes movie, with some elements of the original franchise sequel / prequel Battle For The Planet Of The Apes.
  12. Associated Press. "With the documentary 'Chimpanzee' opening, a look at 5 prime primate movies". The Statesman. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  13. 1 2 3 Sutton, Paul (2010). "8. Prequel: The "Afterwardsness" of the Sequel". In Jess-Cooke, Carolyn; Verevis, Constantine. Second Takes: Critical Approaches to the Film Sequel. State University of New York Press. pp.  139–152. ISBN   9781438430294.
  14. Keegan, Rebecca (11 August 2011). "'Rise of the Planet of the Apes': 21 nods to classic 'Apes'". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  15. "5 Bollywood movies which are better then their prequels". India Today.
  16. "'Singam 3' will have connection with prequels: Director". 22 June 2015.
  17. Skipper, Ben (September 23, 2014). "Star Trek 3 to Include Spock and Kirk Reunion With William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy". International Business Times.